Between working at a job where I see a shit-ton of violent crime and reading umpty-billion Internet posts on rape, sometimes I feel a little overprotective. Like I have to be on my guard against men who show any sexual interest, because being attracted to a woman is basically a threat against her. A guy I don't know just up and looked at me? AAUUUGH MACE AND RUN.
But no. Sometimes a "hey there" really is just a "heeyyyyy there." Sometimes it's flattering, even empowering. There really is such a thing as a Friendly Ogle. These are the qualifiers for staring at a strange woman and being uncreepy, the Gentleman's Guide to Ogling:
1) Keep a neutral or happy expression on your face. Scowling and ogling is mega-creepy.
2) If she looks back and "catches" you, be friendly--make eye contact and smile, or even wave or say hi. Then leave it at that (and stop ogling) unless she decides to extend the contact.
3) No touchy. EVER. Even a little, even on somewhere totally neutral. Personally I don't think even tapping someone on the shoulder without their permission is ever okay, but if you are the sort of person who does that, at least don't do it to anyone you're thinking about sexually.
4) Only ogle from a reasonable distance; don't loom. Don't ogle in an elevator or narrow passageway or somewhere else where she's stuck with you.
5) Talk to her like she's people. Guys who say "I'm sorry, I just was noticing that you're very pretty" get laid sometimes that way, or at least get treated nicely; guys who go "whoooo hot mama!" I'm pretty sure do not ever. (I think these guys don't really want or expect the woman to react positively, so I don't really know what the fuck they are thinking, other than "I'd like to make it a little more difficult for her to walk down the fucking street.")
6) Even if she doesn't seem to have noticed you, restrain your ogling time to a reasonable once-over, not an unbreakable Death Stare.
7) If she scowls or curses at you, even if you were being totally nice and nonthreatening, just let it go. She didn't agree to this interaction, so she doesn't owe you politeness. Explaining how you were just paying her a compliment, geez is never helpful. (And I don't think I have to point out that the "you think I was looking at you? don't flatter yourself" denial is all kinds of fucked up.)
So yeah. It's okay to be attracted to women. It's okay to hit on them and even ogle them. If you're respectful and friendly and treat them like people, it's just fine by this Humorless Feminist if you stare at total strangers in the street. You have my permission.
Personally I don't think even tapping someone on the shoulder without their permission is ever okay, but if you are the sort of person who does that, at least don't do it to anyone you're thinking about sexually.ReplyDelete
Seriously? I don't make a habit of grabbing random folks, but a tap on the shoulder or a nudge to the elbow is sometimes necessary.
The rest of the post makes sense to me, though. One of the weird epiphanies I had to have (instead of picking it up at a developmentally appropriate age in the normal course of growing up) was that women sometimes want to be looked at.
Bruno - I really really don't like being touched by strangers. I guess a little nudge isn't a serious offense but I'm not going to go on record in favor of it.ReplyDelete
Yeah, women (at least me and a bunch of the women I know) are really quite flattered when guys think we're hot--it's only a problem when they express that in disrespectful ways.
Guys who say "I'm sorry, I just was noticing that you're very pretty" get laid sometimes that way, or at least get treated nicelyReplyDelete
This for me is the crux of the matter. I can get all giggly and flattered by a comment like this and it will matter not at all what the giver looks like. It's just nice to hear (nicely!) that I look good.
It's the creepy, clearly-not-expecting-an-affirmative-response thing that drives me bat shit. How on earth do you expect me to respond to "Nice belly!" or a smooching sound you make with your lips.
I might even like cat calling (even at the high levels of my neighborhood where it's part of the culture) if it was all polite. That "pardon me, but" goes a looooooong way.
I'm convinced that catcalling and shit like that isn't meant as sincere flattery, it's meant as an exertion of power. "Look at me! I can make you afraid to walk down the street!"ReplyDelete
And yeah, the thing with compliments is that they need to come without any kind of expectation or tacit threat attached. Like Paradox, I can feel flattered by a compliment from ANYONE, so long as it's given with simple generosity. When the compliment has undertones of so-can-we-fuck-now? or I'm-thinking-of-sexually-assaulting-you, not so much.
I've heard it said that aggressive catcalling isn't a message to the woman at all. It's communication among men, sending messages like "I'm in with this group, I like what you like" and "I'm not gay."ReplyDelete
Just like, as far as I can tell, male penis size anxiety is much more about other men than about women, and female clothing anxiety is much more about other women than about men. (What I internalized from high school is "If you don't take a basic level of care with your appearance, other girls will hit you and steal your stuff." Boys hardly seemed to care.)
If I could upvote you I would. I've never thought of it that way.Delete
As a male ogler this shit is super duper useful! Almost as good as the "how to not be creepy" article. They need to teach it in high-school, because some of those points were certainly not obvious to me :)ReplyDelete
Mad props, yo.
Best ogle I ever received was from a total stranger on a London escalator who, as I was yanking up my precarious jeans, said "don't pull it up, darling. You've got a great arse."ReplyDelete
He then merrily went on his way, and I on mine. It put me in a fantastic mood for the rest of the night. So there is definitely something to be said for non-creepy ogling.