Quote of the Day: Staring at women's bodies

Should women take it as a compliment when men catcall them or stare at them? No!

In response to this comment, SRSister Kelderwick replied:

Not sure if “subjugate” is actual transcribed word or a totally clueless yet perfect mis-remembered “objectify”. (Despite shitthatneverhappened.txt)

But okay really dudes. Thought experiment thing time yeah? You are at the gym, running, and your workout clothes are somewhat showy and fairly form-fitting. In the mirror you notice Jane Random Runner inspecting you – awesome, says you. Okay sure, whatever. What if JRR is still staring at you ten minutes later – are you still fine? That’s not intrusive at all? Now pretend her expression isn’t neutral – she’s obviously interested. Doesn’t say a word, just stares at you or takes long glances. The whole time. You are still not affected at all by this? She keeps watching you.

Sure. Now, it isn’t just JRR anymore. Now she has 10 peers all using machines behind you. Some of them don’t look, one of them stares like JRR, some of them take the odd glance. One of them wrinkles her nose in disapproval because she doesn’t find you attractive, or so she whispers to her friend beside her. Thinks she’s being quiet, probably, but maybe not? Wait, was that a camera her friend just slipped away? Hmmm. Oh well.

But now it’s not just JRR and her peers, it’s your female co-workers. Most of them are decent enough folks and don’t bother you. But Gwen does. She leans in too close when you talk, she watches you a bit too long when you wear shorts. Whenever you go to office parties Gwen always corners you and tries to make conversation. She doesn’t take well to rejection. But she’s nice enough most of them time, right? And she’s never, you know, said anything – she is married, after all. Definitely hasn’t done anything either. Well okay there was that one time she put her hand… It doesn’t matter, she was a bit upset that day (home stuff and all that). Besides, you talked to Stephanie and she figures you just over-analyzed the whole thing.

Okay. But now it’s not just JRR and her peers and your female co-workers and Stephanie. Now it’s women on the street. Some of them whistle at you. Some are rather more lewd. Usually you’re too tired or too determined and just ignore them. But if you flip them off and reject them, sometimes they get mad.

They get real mad.

And their friends get mad too.

Now listen, you bunch of shitlord smugfucks who’ve never experienced fucking anything like this, who have no comprehension of the experiences of women who are subjected to this very predominantly male behaviour, get a fuckin’ clue: they are people out there. They have to fuckin’ live a whole life in this context. You, you who felt so stung about getting called out, or vicariously felt so, or were so morally stoked by the thought of such happening that you made it up to circlejerk with your like-minded shitlord friends like a bunch of fucking leeches writhing in a pool of liquid fucking manure, fuck off. Your little sting, that was nothing – one hair pulled out from the arse of an elephant. There is no thing, no habit from women or overbearing cultural narrative and tropes, there is no thing that gives you any fucking perspective on this.

P.S. You, shitlord, do not think this means that gender-flipping situations will be a good tool for analyzing every situation. It is not.

This is actually a very common complaint from men and a prime example of how male privilege works. For us that we have never experienced anything like this in our day-to-day lives, it’s impossible to intuitively comprehend why staring/leering/creeping at random women is not flattering to them. The thought process above is exactly what is meant when one asks us to “Check our Privilege”.


6 thoughts on “Quote of the Day: Staring at women's bodies”

  1. I think an important thing to note when telling these sorts of stories in reverse perspective is to emphasize that not all the women bothering you will be attractive. I think there are people out there who will still think that kind of attention is desirable because they imagine all the women to be bikini models, or at least not hideous. A lot of the people who catcall are not just not to one's personal taste but can also have extremely repulsive personalities and appearances, so its not just "attention", its who you are getting the attention from.

    1. Unfortunately this plays right into the rhetoric of MRAs who insist on claiming that the only reason women react negatively to catcalling and unrequited attention seeking is because the perpetrator is not handsome. I.e. that the only "creeps" are the ugly guys and women are just "shallow bitches" who use the objectification excuse to avoid giving attention to the "betas". It's blatantly wrong and missing the point.

    2. I have had what would be considered very physically attractive men harass me, stalk me, and catcall. I do not find them attractive, however, because their behaviour is disgusting and ugly. The effects are the same.

  2. as a black male, i'm acutely aware of this expectation to not look at women. black men are considered particularly aggressive and intimidating, right? but that expectation reminds me too much of 1950s racial/gender dynamics. Should I look away, or worse, look down, when I see an attractive woman (a white woman???)? historically, power and status has been expressed in who is 'allowed' to look at whom. black people must look down when a white person passes, etc. so, considering this, when I hear women, especially white women, (and I should add, I find it's mostly white women who complain about this, but I could be wrong), i think to myself , "who are YOU –not– to get looked at, we all get looked at. i get 'looked at' (read: profiled and stereotyped) in restaurants, in cars, interviews, walking down the street, when presenting my ideas, on the job, off the job, everywhere. so what makes you, oh miss pretty white lady, so special?"

    now, i understand vulgar catcalls are a different beast all together, but I'd just like to trouble for a second: who's actually showing their privilege here?

    1. The point of equality isn't to push everybody down equally. White women don't deserve to get oggled because black men are profiled. Nobody should get oggled, and nobody should get profiled. I don't care when men look at me; I care when they stare, as if I am something that exists for their entertainment and aesthetic pleasure. And the problem with looking back at a man, any man, who stares at me, is that my eye contact is seen as consent for them to make an obnoxious comment. And then, if I don't respond sweetly, they call me a bitch, a whore, etc.

      There are plenty of feminists of colour out there, and I assure you that women of colour have just as much of a problem with being stared at – except worse, because they're exotified and fetishized. Sexual assault is even more of a problem among women of colour than among white women, and WOC feminists are very outspoken about this problem (read this for an example: http://www.blackwomensblueprint.org/2011/09/23/an….

      When I refuse to look at a black man because he's black, because countless detrimental stereotypes are piled on black men, I show my white privilege. When you think that you have a right to stare at women, who are constantly stared at, stalked, oggled, and harassed, you show your male privilege. Many forms of privilege exist out there.

  3. The comparison doesn't work because I wouldn't have reason to feel physically threatened by women looking at me, catcalling, or whatever. Women simply have more against which to guard when a man is acting in this manner.

    The difference between male and female objectification is the much greater threat of a man literally acting in a way that treats her as an object — by assuming it's for sale or there for the taking if he can get away with it. Not even in the back of my head would I have this worry of a woman.

    It's the same reason why I'm flattered when women stare or flirt with me, but am defensive when a gay man does so. It isn't because he's gay, but because he's a man.

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