When a man stares at your body

You know that self-conscious feeling you get when you realise a male work-colleague or man on the bus is staring at your boobs? Thanks to Dreaming Spires I found this: How objectification silences women – the male glance as a psychological muzzle.

Ed Yong writes about a study by Tamar Saguy that found that women become “more silent if they think that men are focusing on their bodies”:

Saguy’s study is one of the first to provide evidence of the social harms of sexual objectification – the act of treating people as “de-personalised objects of desire instead of as individuals with complex personalities”. It targets women more often than men. It’s apparent in magazine covers showing a woman in a sexually enticing pose, in inappropriate comments about a colleague’s appearance, and in unsolicited looks at body parts.

Yong writes that since men didn’t respond the same way when being checked out, it puts paid to the “false equivalence arguments that are often put forward when discussing gender issues (i.e. “women look at male bodies too”)”.

Some perve staring at your boobs on the bus isn’t such a big deal. Creepy, yes, but a death-glare usually stops it. But if it’s the HR guy in a job interview, for example, or your boss when you’re trying to negotiate a pay rise, then you’re screwed.

12 responses to “When a man stares at your body

  1. I usually find direct confrontation, i.e a loud “What the FUCK are you staring at?” or something similar is usually sufficient. Although, there have been times when that’s made things worse. :S

    • I usually go with an ever so slightly less confrontational “can I help you or do you just want to stare at my boobs?”, but I’m not exactly the shy type. Mind you, I still get that awful feeling of being leered at, that the men whining on Ed Yong’s blog about how it’s our fault we react that way and that it’s a man’s right to objectify women, will never understand. I particularly love those guys saying men shouldn’t be responsible for their actions because SOCIETY has made women react this way. Because, you know, the two aren’t linked. Idiots. For fuck’s sake, how hard is it to not leer at a woman’s boobs when she’s talking to you?

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  3. I have become aggressive and confronted men at parties or bars after I caught them eyeballing me up and down, which have resulted in them calling me “dumb bitch,” they’d walk away in disgust, and I’d laugh it off.

    Good. I’d rather be thought a dumb, loud bitch than give them the silent consent of objectifying me with their filthy eyes.

    f–king perverts.

    • Hi Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist, welcome to the Nipples. Their “dumb bitch” response is so offensive because they clearly see it as their right to perve at you, even when it makes you uncomfortable. That it’s your fault you don’t want to be ogled, rather than seeing that their action is causing the problem. I wonder what it will take for men like that to understand?

  4. The article links to a good definition and distinction between attraction and objectification. Seems to me that this is often the crux of the misunderstanding and theoretic arguments on this subject especially the immediate come back thrown at women – i.e. women do it too! I admit to objectifying men sometimes (e.g. the shirtless acrobatic boys in the Tom Tom Crew!) so I remain mindful of avoiding being too hypocritical. When I analyses it was it that I fancied them (attraction?) or was I objectifying them as strong, masculine sexual stereotypes etc. It’s a quandary!

    Staring is one thing (not saying it’s a good thing mind you!!) but what surprises me, is if a women points put that it makes her uncomfortable or angry that she is then vilified as a dumb bitch, lesbian (meant as an insult weirdly enough), frigid whatever. Men like that need to shave their knuckles and grow up.

  5. Pingback: More on objectification « the news with nipples

  6. I think the final comment you make NWN is the key. Sure at a bar or social event you can make a pointed but lighthearted comment to suggest the dude look you in the eye. But if it *is* your boss or prospective boss you’re subconciously inclined to talk less and there’s not a lot you can do about it. Also there are thousands of situations in which there’s not much you can do about it for pure safety reasons.

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  8. Pingback: The Year of the Leer | the news with nipples

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