So There’s a Woman Dressed All Sexy-Like: Your Role as Observer

There’s a lot of ongoing debate about what, exactly, a woman is looking for when she goes out dressed all sexy-like (which is itself a subjective concept). Men (and women) get ideas about exactly what that woman wants, what she welcomes, how they should behave toward her, what her all-sexy-likeness indicates. And guys, in particular, can come up with a thousand excuses for publicly ogling a woman’s goodies–They’re right there; I can’t help but look. She’s doing it for attention–she wants men to look. If she didn’t want guys to look, she shouldn’t put them out there. They’re so ubiquitous, I hardly notice them anymore, and when I do I generally dismiss them with rolled eyes and an unladylike snort.

There is one excuse that, while common, is sufficiently uncommon to draw my attention: Some girls get their feelings hurt if you don’t look/whistle/comment/shout/grope. Seriously. Seriously? Your personal approval is paramount to them, and you’re doing them a service by sexually harassing them. They pass you by at a bar, ladypillows pushed up to their chin, and when you don’t hazard a pinch they look back at you with a single, crystalline tear rolling down their cheek. Your unsolicited grunt is really your generous way of seeing to their emotional health, you saint, you. (Whether the gentleman offering this service is the same one who wanted custody of our metaphorical dog, I shall not say.)

And so I provided him a list, albeit not a universal or comprehensive one, of things to do when you see a woman dressed all sexy-like.

1. Admire, if it’s your thing. I mean, why not?

2. Don’t stare. It’s rude. And it’s not like the view is going to change from minute to minute–generally, women don’t spontaneously disrobe or hyperinflate their breasts or turn into lizard-people such that you’d miss it if you turned away. The view ten seconds now will be pretty much the same as the view you’re getting now, so it’s safe to look away.

3. Keep your commentary–and your hands–to yourself. Some women truly are into it; many aren’t. Many really aren’t. It’s best to err on the side of not offending anyone.

4. Don’t assume she’s dressing for you. Maybe she’s dressed all sexy-like for the benefit of her boyfriend/girlfriend, and they just happen to be out in public where you can observe it.

5. Don’t assume she’s dressing for you. Maybe she’s dressed all sexy-like for the guy two barstools down from you, who’s taller than you and flashed a Rolex when he reached for his drink. Or maybe it’s for the guy next to you on the other side who’s shorter than you and wearing tight jeans and hipster glasses that you think look stupid. Or maybe it’s for the woman behind the bar. She’s allowed to be picky, and she’s allowed to not pick you. The fact that you’re sitting within sight of her all-sexy-likeness doesn’t mean she’s aiming it at you–just that she’s a shotgun and you’re within the spread.

6. Don’t assume she’s dressing for you–or anyone else, for that matter. Maybe she’s dressed all sexy-like purely for herself, because she likes the way she looks. Maybe looking all sexy-like makes her feel sexy, and that gives her more confidence or a little bit of a personal thrill. And yes, maybe her look is one that is also appealing to the more prurient gaze, but there’s a difference between wanting to look sexy and wanting to actively pursue interaction of a sexual nature. She gets to do either one.

7. Don’t think she owes you anything. Dressing all sexy-like isn’t some contract with the world that a woman will respond positively to all come-ons or welcome all (or any) physical advances. Even if she is dressed all sexy-like expressly so that people will look at her, that doesn’t mean she wants anyone to touch her or even speak to her, and she gets to do that. If you insist on seeing it as a transaction, think of it this way: She gets to dress in a way that makes her feel sexy, and you get to enjoy seeing a woman who’s dressed all sexy-like.

8. Be a nice guy (or girl), not a Nice Guy™. Review #5. Maybe she’s not into short guys, or tall girls, or guys at all, or girls at all, or facial hair, or muscles, or people who open with “Hey, nice tits.” People have their reasons–and you’re eyeing the woman who’s dressed all sexy-like and not the woman in the mom jeans next to her, so it’s not like you’re one to talk. Here’s a clue: If you find yourself saying, “I’m a nice guy, but no one will sleep with me! Women are only into rich/bad/hot guys. Shallow bitches, all of them,” you’re not a nice guy. You’re a Nice Guy™, and that’s why you’re single.

Am I leaving anything out? Moreover, at what point do you know that a male friend is just plain not educable?

146 comments for “So There’s a Woman Dressed All Sexy-Like: Your Role as Observer

  1. October 26, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Nice piece. My biggest bugbear is when some idiot takes it upon himself to interrupt my otherwise perfectly pleasant walk RIGHT PAST HIM to give me some creepy remark about my appearance and when I call them up on it they insist it’s “cultural”. So where they’re from (and this can be anything from two streets to two continents away) (1) women don’t dress that way […so it’s ok to stare and bother a woman who does], (2) this is the normal way to meet women […really, shouting “nice arse” from the window of a dirty truck? that works does it?] and (3) women like it [as you say, they get mortally offended if you don’t commit a full-blown crime]. And then suddenly I’m stuck in some horrid oppression olympics “hey it’s not easy being from (insert name of country, religious group, socio-economic group, etc)”, well good, then you should have some sympathy for another group who get treated like cr*p too – women! And don’t do it. No, it’s not about respecting your culture, it’s about respecting my boundaries… Sigh.

  2. October 26, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    What saddens me is that any of this even needs to be said. I’m glad you did, but sad that it is necessary.

  3. LC
    October 26, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    What andie said.

  4. Aunti Disestablishmentarian
    October 26, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Don’t assume she’s dressed sexy-like. As Caperton mentioned at the beginning of the post, sexy-like is subjective, both for the wearer and the oggler. She may be dressing casually for her, and you are reading into it.

    I am reminded of junior high school girls who wear revealing clubwear to school because they think it is the norm / expected of them / they like it, but they are wearing it without the explicit intent of garnering attention. It’s particularly heartbreaking to see girls and women not yet fully comfortable with their sexuality beaten down by harassing bs.

  5. Steve
    October 26, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    And just because she doesn’t respond negatively to you doesn’t mean she enjoys it. She might just be overly polite. I’ve been around women before who get hit on by strange guys in public and often times they act nice but when the guy goes away they turn to me and say something like, “did you see that creep hitting on me? Gross!”

  6. October 26, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    @ Steve / 5

    Yup, because it’s not uncommon that shutting guy down to his face (even politely) will result in him getting aggressive (or passive-aggressive) in retaliation, so women have learned to play along and hope that it doesn’t escalate. Lose-lose situation, sometimes. It sure as hell makes actual flirting harder.

  7. shfree
    October 26, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Also, maybe she did hear you, and she is ignoring you, so yelling hello at her louder isn’t going to help. And if she is trying to ignore you, let her.

  8. October 27, 2011 at 12:37 am

    “Some girls get their feelings hurt if you don’t look/whistle/comment/shout/grope.”

    I utterly hate this — when a guy makes a comment to/about/within earshot of me, and if I call him on it, I get a response along the lines of “get a sense of humour, most women would be *thrilled* to hear that, what’s wrong with you?” They’re genuinely walking around thinking that their vocal appraisal of women’s asses is some kind of service to the community…

    Also, it’s worrying when “feminist” literature backs up this theory. Ellie Levenson writes an entire section in her book about feminism (I won’t name or link to it because then people might actually buy the horror. NB: it needs a trigger warning and doesn’t have one, in case you Google an excerpt) in which she argues that guys who hang off scaffolding on building sites and yell at women ought to be rewarded for “empowering” and “validating” those women. Ugh.

  9. October 27, 2011 at 1:53 am

    When I talk about Nice Guys ™ I usually try to provide a definition since a lot of people don’t quite get what we’re talking about when we discuss them. Here’s one of my favorite pieces on the subject (written by a guy, no less):
    http://www.heartless-bitches.com/rants/niceguys/coin.shtml

    Heartless Bitches International: I don’t always agree with them, but sometimes they are soooo spot on.

  10. DevilsEyeTooth
    October 27, 2011 at 3:20 am

    For the record, I pride myself on ignoring women who walk into bars in a slinky dresses so as not to offend them with rude attention or comments or causing them to fear me in some anti predatory fashion…

    But once, after sitting in silence for the better part of 45 minutes, this caused the women in question to chuck a shot glass at the side of my head and shout “what do I have to do to get your fucking attention!” before storming out.

    In truth I should be flatted tho, its more attention than I am typically shown by women dressed all sexy like ;)

  11. October 27, 2011 at 3:39 am

    DevilsEyeTooth:

    In truth I should be flatted tho, its more attention than I am typically shown by women dressed all sexy like ;)

    No, you shouldn’t be flattered by rude, violent behaviour. I mean you can if you like, but you shouldn’t feel culturally obligated to do so.

    It sems we hardly ever discuss womens sexual agression and how it impacts the whole situation. For even though it never excuses anything it is interesting how entiteled some women can act when they don’t get the attention they think they deserve.

    This is allso part of the patriachy or kyriarchy if you like I suppose. When some women see their only chance at feeling emporverd coming from getting a certain attention from men, there’s really no suprise if they feel threatened if they they don’t get it when they had every reason to expect it under the usual cultural norms.

  12. igglanova
    October 27, 2011 at 4:08 am

    DevilsEyeTooth: For the record, I pride myself on ignoring women who walk into bars in a slinky dresses so as not to offend them with rude attention or comments or causing them to fear me in some anti predatory fashion…

    If you take this as a matter of pride, you’ve set the bar of ‘decent human being’ awfully low. And you don’t have to ignore women. Just avoid the ol’ leer-and-jeer, and your status as a non-asshole is assured.

    Also, there’s no excuse for beaning someone in the head with solid objects when that person has shown no aggression whatsoever. The hell?

  13. karak
    October 27, 2011 at 5:30 am

    To me, a key between a compliment and a creeper is a compliment has some sense of respect in it–for me as a person, for the work I put into my appearance.

    A good compliment should also be on something I control–don’t talk about my breasts or ass (or even my eyes). Talk about my dress, my shoes, my bag, my nails, because I chose those things much more than I chose my body. It also indicates you’re interested in ME–the girl in the fierce heels with a sense of playful color, not just the girl with the round high tits.

  14. karak
    October 27, 2011 at 5:30 am

    To me, a key between a compliment and a creeper is a compliment has some sense of respect in it–for me as a person, for the work I put into my appearance.

    A good compliment should also be on something I control–don’t talk about my breasts or ass (or even my eyes). Talk about my dress, my shoes, my bag, my nails, because I chose those things much more than I chose my body. It also indicates you’re interested in ME–the girl in the fierce heels with a sense of playful color, not just the girl with the round high tits.

  15. Jonny Pocket Rocket
    October 27, 2011 at 6:20 am

    Can we at least acknowledge that some women wear clothing in public that is designed to beget a certain type of attention? I had my young daughters at a baseball game and ended up changing seats because the gal next to us was literally wearing a see-through shirt. She seemed to be enjoying all the beer-fueled attention.

  16. preying mantis
    October 27, 2011 at 8:19 am

    DevilsEyeTooth:
    But once, after sitting in silence for the better part of 45 minutes, this caused the women in question to chuck a shot glass at the side of my head and shout “what do I have to do to get your fucking attention!” before storming out.

    In truth I should be flatted tho, its more attention than I am typically shown by women dressed all sexy like ;)

    If you want to feel flattered by someone attempting to assault you over attention they felt entitled to but weren’t getting, I guess that’s your prerogative, but don’t expect anyone here to push that on you. Violent entitlement is never a good thing, and a stranger assaulting you and destroying property in what amounts to an unprovoked temper tantrum is a pretty universally worrying event.

  17. October 27, 2011 at 8:19 am

    karak:
    A good compliment should also be on something I control–don’t talk about my breasts or ass (or even my eyes).

    I’ve never known how to respond to “You have beautiful eyes”, because I mean, what, I had any influence over this? I usually go with “Thanks, I grew them myself!”.

  18. October 27, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Good list. I especially like #6. I think a lot of people don’t understand this. I always dress for myself. Putting an outfit together is one of my creative outlets. The way I look is part of who I am. If someone else appreciates what I’ve done for myself, great. As long as they do it politely and/or uncreepily.

  19. midnightsky
    October 27, 2011 at 9:11 am

    So, for the record, you think it’s fine if someone admires a sexy woman, yes? Even though you seem to say it here, I have to ask again, because so many women seem to get offended when they wear revealing clothing and guys happen to look at them and notice how sexy they are. What are they expecting? It’s like carrying around a fish and asking a cat not to take notice. I would be not surprised at all if I were wearing a very revealing outfit and some guy muttered about how hot I was or something. If I saw a guy in a similar situation (for guy clothes, that is), I’d certainly make a comment to my friends. I mean, we’re allowed to appreciate and notice attractive people. I think there is some oversensitivity going on in that department. (Groping is of course bad. Cornering someone and making them feel threatened is bad. But commenting on them? Complimenting them? Looking at them, so long as you’re not hovering with binoculars from teen feet away? Seriously, fellow women, just tell the guy off if he bothers you.)

    And what happens if you want to hit on the girl? Not so you can grab her boobs, but so you can see if she’s open to whatever you’re looking for at the time? (Going for coffee, coming to your place, I dunno.) Are people going to get horribly offended if you flirt with them? You’re making it sound like any advances on a sexy woman makes you a pig.

    Women should be allowed to dress/act how they want, but honestly, men get to do some things they want, too.

  20. Ryan
    October 27, 2011 at 10:06 am

    karak: To me, a key between a compliment and a creeper is a compliment has some sense of respect in it–for me as a person, for the work I put into my appearance.

    Thanks for pointing out that the distinction can be made. The other Friday I was on the way home and taken out of my usual dead-eyed commuter solipsism by the nice weather, happy hour drinks, and lack of an iPod. A few stops before I got off a very well-dressed woman got on and stood across from me at the center pole. I ended up starting a conversation that went:

    Me: “Big date?”
    Her: “Yea, first date actually.”
    Me: “Well they’re in for a treat. You look stunning.”
    Her: (big grin) “Thank you!”

    While she seemed genuinely pleased by the compliment, I’ve never actually commented on the appearance of a stranger like that before, having been made aware of how unwelcome it can be and badly it can come off. I ended up feeling pretty shitty about it, but your comment gives me some hope I didn’t come off like a jackass.

  21. llama
    October 27, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Nothing about context here.

    #9 should be: if you have your female partner with you then don’t do #1

  22. liz
    October 27, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Ryan: Me: “Big date?”
    Her: “Yea, first date actually.”
    Me: “Well they’re in for a treat. You look stunning.”
    Her: (big grin) “Thank you!”

    What I like about this is that a) you acknowledged that she wasn’t dressed up for YOU, random stranger on the subway and b) that you complimented her on her whole gestalt, without making it about you.

  23. saurus
    October 27, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I think the key to compliments is understanding that the most respectful ones from strangers aren’t sexualized. Once it’s sexualized, it can become disgusting, uncomfortable and even threatening.

    Sexualized verbal/body language:

    “hot”, “sexy”, staring at the body, getting too close to the person, preventing the person from continuing on their path/activity, making any reference to sexualized body parts like breasts, butt, legs

    Non-sexualized verbal/body language:

    “beautiful”, “amazing”, “pretty”, making eye contact, keeping a regular distance, only making reference to non-sexualized body parts or no specific body parts at all like hair, face, personal style

    It’s worth noting that some marginalized/devalued bodies actually get a little too much of the latter and a little too much for the former; i.e., fat women being told they have “great hair” or physically disabled women being told they have a “pretty face” or whatever. While I’m definitely, definitely not saying that strangers should start throwing sexualized compliments at people whose bodies are systemically devalued (for obvious reasons, plus people whose bodies are systemically devalued also tend to have their bodies systemically attacked in both sexualized and non-sexualized ways), I do think it’s worth noting that in certain specific contexts, receiving a sexualized compliment feel both amazing and radical. Fat women, for example, can be both beautiful and also jaw-hits-floor salivating “unnnh” hot.

  24. kb
    October 27, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I like all the comments about realizing that it isn’t for you.
    another key issue between a compliment and harassment is the amount of response inspected. To be all magazine quiz about it
    If she just gives you a dirty look and moves on do you?
    a) start yelling at her and calling her a bitch
    b) comment louder
    or c) get on with your day and whatever else brought you to where you are?

    a or b-you’re harassing, not complimenting. A real compliment doesn’t require emotional work (and that’s what it is, even if you phrase it as politeness) from the woman you are complimenting. and yes, woman is intentional because, while exceptions exist obviously, men expecting response from women is far more common.

  25. kb
    October 27, 2011 at 11:25 am

    dammit, inspected should have been expected. no more spell check for me.

  26. October 27, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Ryan: Me: “Big date?”
    Her: “Yea, first date actually.”
    Me: “Well they’re in for a treat. You look stunning.”
    Her: (big grin) “Thank you!”

    It’s also cool that you used a gender-neutral “they”. Can’t speak for the woman in question, but this reads to me as genuine compliment, and not someone trying to make an unwelcome sexual pass disguised as a compliment.

  27. Kristen J.
    October 27, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Eh…I just don’t like compliments about my appearance regardless of the genuineness. I wouldn’t be offended by something like what Ryan said, but they aren’t my cup of tea.

  28. Caperton
    October 27, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Jonny Pocket Rocket

    I did acknowledge that in #6 and #7. It doesn’t change the fact that even if she’s inviting appreciation, she isn’t necessarily inviting interaction. And the safer move is to assume that she isn’t.

    midnightsky

    If you’re looking at a woman and noticing how sexy she is, no one has anything to complain about. It’s what you do about it that requires attention to not be creepy or offensive. Looking? Reasonable. Staring? Kind of creepy. Whispering to your friend, “Holy shit”? Even that’s kind of reasonable. Saying loudly to your friend, “Mm. Now, there’s a piece of ass I could take a bite out of,” and continuing the discussion at length? Offensive. A and C fall under the umbrella of admiring; B and D impose on her, and that’s not fair to her. It’s the difference between the cat noticing the fish and the cat stalking the fish.

    And no one is saying you can’t flirt with a woman. But can you not flirt without an open appraisal of her appearance? Again, there’s a difference between, “I couldn’t help but notice you when you walked in. Can I buy you a drink?” and, “Baby, those tits are just begging for a motorboat. What are your plans for the evening?” Sure, men get to do some things they want, but why should they get to do things that make me feel skeevy?

  29. Tim
    October 27, 2011 at 11:54 am

    GirlPoems:

    … Ellie Levenson writes an entire section in her book about feminism (I won’t name or link to it because then people might actually buy the horror. NB:it needs a trigger warning and doesn’t have one, in case you Google an excerpt) in which she argues that guys who hang off scaffolding on building sites and yell at women ought to be rewarded for “empowering” and “validating” those women.Ugh.

    I actually read something like this in an op-ed once. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the same person; this was a sort of guest submission from a local woman. She was saying that she liked getting catcalls because it was really a “compliment,” etc. My brother and I had been discussing political correctness, campus speech codes and the like and he said see here, this woman likes to be catcalled on the street, why should we try to shut up guys who do that and deprive her of it? Doesn’t that violate her rights? (Seriously, this was years ago and he is not that much of a dick at all and I don’t think would say that now) And I said something like there are people who like to be tied up and hit with whips but if you want to do that you’d better not assume it’s true of any random stranger you see on the street. I think he got the point.

  30. October 27, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I don’t have much else to add, except that sometimes I find myself staring without meaning to. Not often, but sometimes. And at that instant, I think I’m harder on myself than any remark from another person ever would be.

    I’m sure I’ve inadvertently made women uncomfortable before, and I’d apologize, except that doing so would make an awkward situation even more awkward. Usually I just slink into myself and die of shame.

  31. Rob in CT
    October 27, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    What saddens me is that any of this even needs to be said.

    This.

    It’s really not that hard, is it? Nobody I know seems to struggle with it. We’re gonna look. It’s a matter of how long, how obviously, etc. Every once and a while you’ll fail to realize you’re staring. The person’s reaction to this is some level of embarrassment.

    Adding in some sort of huh-huh huh-huh Beavis commentary (intended to be heard by her) takes it to a whole ‘nuther level of creepy.

    Granted, I think we all know one can be clumsy yet sincere. I don’t think that’s what this post is addressing. There’s a difference between being 15 and trying to figure out how to actually speak to the alien goddess sitting next to you in class and being 25 and whistling at random women in the street.

  32. Bagelsan
    October 27, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Usually I just slink into myself and die of shame.

    Well, I suppose dying of shame prevents recidivism? ;p

    Personally I’m somewhat socially anxious, so I usually am very aware of how I present myself or act around other people (I will literally have entire conversations while thinking about how I should time the amount of eye contact I maintain) but even I sometimes accidentally spend too long looking at someone or get caught staring a bit, even just at their cute outfit or hairstyle or the cover of their book.

    I think that’s just a thing that happens in public. Everyone knows the awkward feeling of repeatedly inadvertently meeting a stranger’s eyes! Unless you continue staring or give them an overt once-over after being noticed looking I doubt you’re behaving inappropriately.

  33. Katya
    October 27, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    I really never got why guys act like this is so hard. You see a pretty woman, you appreciate it, you don’t stare. You don’t make sexual comments. If you compliment her, you still don’t make sexual comments. You want to ask her out? Fine, but you still don’t make sexual comments. She indicates she is not interested, for any reason or no reason at all? You leave her alone.

    Yes, some women don’t like compliments, even non-sexual ones, from strangers, but I’ve never known anyone to get *offended* by a sincere and non-sexual compliment. If she’s offended, there’s a good chance that the comment was sexual, or your delivery was creepy, or you didn’t leave her alone after you said it.

  34. October 27, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Well said. I’ve acted both as a jerk (in the distant past) and as a “gentleman” and later realized that the key word here is “acted”. You shouldn’t have to “act” like anyone in order to meet someone. You should be able to be yourself (may sound corny but it’s true!) I think we learn these stupid roles from our guy friends and from the media. I’ve been with guys who shout out car windows at sexy women and it’s very embarrassing! Why would this woman suddenly stop and decide: “Yeah, this random guy is shouting about my ass, he’s the one for ME!”

    Ultimately, guys have to realize that they wouldn’t want this behavior turned on them or their friends, so why subject women to it?

  35. Kristen J.
    October 27, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    XtinaS: I’ve never known how to respond to “You have beautiful eyes”, because I mean, what, I had any influence over this?I usually go with “Thanks, I grew them myself!”.

    I once responded to a dude who said I had nice *tits*, by saying thank you, I inherited them from my grandmother. He replied that I was one sick bitch. Which, I did appreciate as a compliment.

  36. preying mantis
    October 27, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Katya:
    I really never got why guys act like this is so hard.

    Same reason they act like it’s so hard to find the clitoris. Keep the bar a quarter-inch off the floor when it comes to expectations, and you don’t have to do much to clear it.

  37. October 27, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    For the record, I pride myself on ignoring women who walk into bars in a slinky dresses so as not to offend them with rude attention or comments or causing them to fear me in some anti predatory fashion…

    Taking pride in an obtuse refusal to recognize a woman is problematic in its own way, a sort of variant of pedestalization with an added dose of self-congratulation. Women aren’t mechanical traffic lights, they’re human beings with whom communication — even if it’s just mutual recognition of the inappropriateness of further interaction — is possible. Especially when you’re sitting with someone for 45 minutes. It’s not surprising that “I’m ignoring you for your own good” wasn’t taken very well.

    I’ve never known how to respond to “You have beautiful eyes”, because I mean, what, I had any influence over this?I usually go with “Thanks, I grew them myself!”.

    I might use this response as well. I’ve honestly never understood the “beautiful eyes” compliment. Unless they’re bloodshot from lack of sleep or something, eyes all seem the same to me beauty-wise, so being told I have nice eyes feels like being damned with faint praise (like they couldn’t come up with anything else nice to say), even if it wasn’t meant that way.

  38. October 27, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Actually, come to think of it, the best from-a-random-dude compliment I’ve received recently was someone saying my haircut really suited my facial features. *amused*

  39. Caperton
    October 27, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    I don’t know for sure, but I think DevilsEyeTooth was joking. Or maybe I just really hope he was.

  40. Sarah Morehouse
    October 27, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    DevilsEyeTooth:
    But once, after sitting in silence for the better part of 45 minutes, this caused the women in question to chuck a shot glass at the side of my head and shout “what do I have to do to get your fucking attention!” before storming out.

    Silly lady. The answer was very simple. Look at your face, smile, and say “Hi!” She was a pig to throw something at you, and you deserve better than someone who tries passive aggressive tactics until they get frustrated and then shift to purely aggressive!

  41. shfree
    October 27, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    “I’ve never known how to respond to “You have beautiful eyes”, because I mean, what, I had any influence over this?I usually go with “Thanks, I grew them myself!”. ”

    The one time I had this guy use this line on me I was at a party and actually in the middle of chatting up some other guy, so I was REALLY irritated. He actually went around that whole night trying to drunkenly and sleazily hit on just every single woman there, and right about when we decided we were going to lure him into an alley for a serious “talking to”, his friend decided it was best to gather him up and leave.

    Lesson: Sometimes, you might be at a place populated by young, ANGRY anarchofeminists who have had too much to drink, without a responsible friend, and they really, really hate people people interrupting them to hit on them.

  42. ChappelleFan
    October 27, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Dave Chappelle summarized it in a way that many guys can’t. So I quote him here:

    The girl says “Oh uh-uh, wait a minute! Just because I’m dressed this way does not make me a whore!” Which is true. Gentlemen, that is true. Just because they dress a certain way doesn’t mean they are a certain way. Don’t ever forget it. But ladies, you must understand that is fucking confusing. It just is. Now that would be like me, Dave Chappelle, the comedian, walking down the street in a cop uniform. Somebody might run up on me, saying, “Oh, thank God. Officer, help us! Come on. They’re over here. Help us!” “Oh-hoh! Just because I’m dressed this way does not make me a police officer!” See what I mean? All right, ladies, fine. You are not a whore. But you are wearing a whore’s uniform.

  43. LC
    October 27, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Kristen J.: I once responded to a dude who said I had nice *tits*, by saying thank you, I inherited them from my grandmother. He replied that I was one sick bitch. Which, I did appreciate as a compliment.

    That story just made my day.

  44. toritan
    October 27, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    “Ultimately, guys have to realize that they wouldn’t want this behavior turned on them or their friends, so why subject women to it?”

    Except “guys” don’t have to worry about this kind of boorish oggling … because women don’t do it.

  45. DudeBroDoucheTroll
    October 27, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I’ll agree with you on all points except #2:

    > The view ten seconds now will be pretty much the same as the view you’re getting now, so it’s safe to look away.

    Its BIOLOGY. We’re staring because our reptile brains are imagining what its like to have sex with her. You can chastise us and call us rude. We can do our best to avoid staring too long, but we will always. look. back.

    My wife laughs about it. And I try not to get bent out of shape if she checks out a hot guy. This is what realistic, well-adjusted people do.

  46. Wonderkitty
    October 27, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    I definitely have been known to dress for attention, in both “sexy” and non-sexy ways. This doesn’t mean I’m inviting people to invade my personal space or attempt to demean me because of my choice of attire.

    Also has never stopped me from making my displeasure known as strongly as necessary to make someone stop.

    I’d also like to add that I know women who have no respect for other women’s sense of self or privacy and feel free to stare or grope because “we’re all just gals here.”

  47. Xinaji
    October 27, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Speaking as a male with Asperger’s, I’d like to make a comment and ask a question. First: I don’t look at women at all, unless I am looking through them at something else or unless I am directly addressed or I have legitimate business, because I grew up terrified of being percieved as sexually aggressive. At age 33, however, I’ve had one long distance relationship, period, and no sexual contact since I was 18 and traveled to Cape Town to spend a summer with her. I _assume_ that my reflexive personal policy of deferential avoidance meets with general approval. I definitely do not harass. Now for my question: I’m starting to feel very alone and unsupported, as my parents and sister have moved away. I doubt I experience loneliness the way you neurotypicals do, but it’s grown very painful of late. I cannot read body language, and I have no useful experience with real life social contact initiation. Can any of you advise me? Do I come across as “creepy?” I am entirely at a loss, but the problem weighs on my mind. Is there any help to be had? I can tolerate the emotional discomfort, day to day, and I won’t suicide or lose my sanity; that is not in my nature. It just seems a very bleak future to contemplate.

  48. Dallas Jon
    October 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    With respect to compliments on a woman’s (that is a stranger) appearance , I would pretty much say if you wouldn’t say it to your mom then you shouldn’t say it. However, for those that are uncomfortable with compliments, if you receive one that is honest and not rude, the appropriate response is thank you. Most guys find approaching women intimidating, so take it for what it is intended, and then tell your lady friends about the fantastic complement that you received that one time. On the other hand ladies, let me be the first apologize for all of the douches out there, unfortunately, there a quite a few.

    Cheers!

  49. Politicalguineapig
    October 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I usually get ‘nice eyes” too, which always gets a ‘thank you.”
    I like my eyes :D Although one guy told me once that my eyes reminded him of his daughter’s. Didn’t know how to respond to that.
    Another response I get is ‘have I seen you here before?’ which acts as a really nice icebreaker. My dopplegangers and I get around a lot, apparently.

  50. Jadey
    October 27, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    DudeBroDoucheTroll: Its BIOLOGY. We’re staring because our reptile brains are imagining what its like to have sex with her. You can chastise us and call us rude. We can do our best to avoid staring too long, but we will always. look. back.

    Except humans are not slaves to stereotyped instinctive behaviour the way that many animals are – we are quite capable, if motivated, to control our instinctual, reflexive responses. It’s one of the neat things about being human.

  51. DevilsEyeTooth
    October 27, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I don’t know for sure, but I think DevilsEyeTooth was joking. Or maybe I just really hope he was.

    Heh sadly I assure you I was not joking, the bar the incident occurred at is a frequent hangout of mine and the staff there (both male and female) still heckle me about it ;)

    Stentor:Taking pride in an obtuse refusal to recognize a woman is problematic in its own way, a sort of variant of pedestalization with an added dose of self-congratulation. Women aren’t mechanical traffic lights, they’re human beings with whom communication — even if it’s just mutual recognition of the inappropriateness of further interaction — is possible. Especially when you’re sitting with someone for 45 minutes. It’s not surprising that “I’m ignoring you for your own good” wasn’t taken very well.

    She was not sitting “with” me, she simply walked in and sat next to me. I have often been told, some women consider the mere act of approach, even for simple conversation to be threatening. As such, if a women is a complete stranger to me I have no other conversation topic available to me than her appearance; and seeing as how reducing somebody to their physical appearance is objectifying, I typically opt for silence so as to be relatively sure I am not causing offense.

    It is most certainly not “for her own good”, as I would consider that to be ethically presumptuous.

  52. Kristen J.
    October 27, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Dallas Jon: However, for those that are uncomfortable with compliments, if you receive one that is honest and not rude, the appropriate response is thank you.

    You know there was something I wrote recently about social expectations of gratitude…If I could just remember where I came out on that issue…

  53. Kristen J.
    October 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    DevilsEyeTooth: As such, if a women is a complete stranger to me I have no other conversation topic available to me than her appearance

    Topics of conversation not involving physical appearances:

    1) What are you drinking;
    2) This drink is delicious;
    3) This [thing on tv] is boring/fascinating/long/short/even/a blow out;
    4) Did you see [event] last week;
    5) Did you hear about Theo Epstein;
    6) Dear god did the Red Sox suck this year;
    7) Do you know of a good [restaurant/coffeehouse/craft store] around here…

    There is almost infinite variety in the number of random things you can talk about with a stranger that do not involve her appearance.

  54. igglanova
    October 27, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Saying leering is part of ‘biology’ is only true in the most trivial sense, because all individual thoughts and actions are biological phenomena. It also reveals that you don’t know what on Earth you’re talking about. I think the word you’re looking for is ‘innate.’ But either way, the idea that men are somehow hard-wired to leer at people in a way that women aren’t is not supported by science.

  55. karak
    October 27, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    @Comrade Kevin

    Honestly, human interaction means you ARE going to make someone uncomfortable at some point. The goal is recognizing when you have, and trying to avoid situations where you will, and taking responsibility when you do.

    So, if you realize you’ve been looking at one woman too long, and she’s kind of looking back/looking awkward, the proper response is simply to allow the lightbulb moment to be expressed on your face, turn away slightly, and engage in something/someone else. Much like the way you communicate “my bad” when you cut someone off in traffic.

    @Xinaji–

    I am not trying to be cruel, but many people with Asperbergers can come across as “creepy” because you have trouble understanding very small social and body language cues. Rapists CAN read these cues and ignore them.

    If you are trying to be social, I’d avoid bars, because those are environments were people are drinking (and have very different reads) and it’s an environment where women are on high alert for creepiness and it’s hard to communicate.

    If I were you, I’d find a hobby/environment (like a cafe, a book club, computer club, volunteer position, writer’s group) and meet people through there. Be honest, explain to people, “I can be awkward, so if I’m being awkward, please tell me!” If someone tells you you’re violating a rule, apologize and step back.

    Also keep in mind you’re looking for FRIENDS, and HOPE for someone who might be more than a friend, if it works out. Many times I’ve seen people hone in on women, desperate for a girlfriend, and that communicates, “I don’t care about your personality and desires. I don’t care about who you are, I will take any woman.” Which is insulting to the woman and insulting to you.

    Alternatively, you might want to sign up for a dating site, like okcupid. I know many people who have met excellent partners over that site, and that way you can be up-front.

    “Hello, I’m Xinaji, and I have Asperbergers. I also love cats, think mohitos are delicious, and I’m looking for a woman who likes to talk late in the night about classic cinema!”

    And, lastly, there is no need for shame. If you are genuinely doing your best to be thoughtful and kind in your interactions, you take criticism to heart, then you’re doing the best you can. Like I told Kevin, you ARE going to make someone uncomfortable. That happens in ALL human interactions. The key is being a good person when it does happen, acknowledge it, apologize for it, and strive to do better next time.

  56. Sam
    October 27, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I think that’s a pretty useful list, even as flirting advice, two things though:

    a) some women *do* want male attention, and they are seriously disappointed/hurt when they don’t get it. And that definitely includes very attractive and successful and even feminist women. Even to the extent of asking “would you sleep with me?” – which in the recent case I am referring to was not code for “sleep with me”, but for “do you honestly find me sexy? Because the guy I like doesn’t seem to see me. Actually, they hardly ever seem to notice me.” And, having been on both sides of the female attention threshold, I can definitely see why that is the case. Hardly anything is as identity-reaffirming as wanted (sexual/ised) attention.

    b) don’t always frame things as *DON’TS” if at all possible (see what I just did? ;)) It will, I believe, often cause unnessessary defensiveness and thus, I reckon, be not as helpful as framing the same content as advice about how to “DO” express admiration, look seductively, etc. – of course, this is more complicated, no doubt, but also, I believe, more useful.

  57. DevilsEyeTooth
    October 27, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Kristen J.: 5) Did you hear about Theo Epstein;

    LOL honestly had no idea who that was till I googled him (not a baseball person at ANY lvl over here :/)

    I guess I have just never overcome the stigma of being told “your only talking to her to get in her pants”. I have always been told by a plethora of women that it’s impolite to only speak to a women “because you think shes hot”; but until a mutually interesting conversation topic has presented itself, I find myself lacking other reasons to start a conversation in the first place.

    I have herd from women often the stance of “If your going to start a conversation with a mundane topic then your only trying to talk to her because you find her attractive, and should really come up with something better to talk about or just don’t bother”

  58. karak
    October 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    @Sam

    …you do understand we’re talking about men who verbally attack and terrorize women for the crime of being in public, right? You do understand that catcalls are based in fear, in control, and power, right? I think it’s fair to say, “DON’T ATTACK STRANGERS” without fear of hurting someone’s feelings or making them “resistant”. They’re already going to be resistant to the idea of treating women as people.

  59. October 27, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Kristen J.: Topics of conversation not involving physical appearances:

    1) What are you drinking;
    2) This drink is delicious;
    3) This [thing on tv] is boring/fascinating/long/short/even/a blow out;
    4) Did you see [event] last week;
    5) Did you hear about Theo Epstein;
    6) Dear god did the Red Sox suck this year;
    7) Do you know of a good [restaurant/coffeehouse/craft store] around here…

    There is almost infinite variety in the number of random things you can talk about with a stranger that do not involve her appearance.

    Topics about appearance don’t necessarily have to be sexual in nature. Like complimenting someone’s earrings, if they have really cool and interesting earrings, shouldn’t come off as creepy. Complimenting a woman’s necklace if its right in the middle of her cleavage is creepy. Similarly if a woman has a really interesting tattoo on her arm, a compliment would not be creepy, but should said tattoo on her breast, then I wouldn’t immediately mention it.

  60. Kristen J.
    October 27, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    DevilsEyeTooth: mundane topic

    MUNDANE!!! Are you saying my precious Red Sox are mundane? Next you’ll tell me that the Patriots are ordinary or that the Blue Devils are tedious. Or FSM forbit, that the UH Warriors are tiresome.

  61. October 27, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Kristen J.: MUNDANE!!! Are you saying my precious Red Sox are mundane? Next you’ll tell me that the Patriots are ordinary or that the Blue Devils are tedious. Or FSM forbit, that the UH Warriors are tiresome.

    OK, I’ve heard of the Patriots (the New England football team,) no idea who the Blue Devils or the UH Warriors are (though I am imagining a group of athletes who shout ‘UH’ as they step on the playing field.)

  62. Sam
    October 27, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Karak,

    are you? Well, it doesn’t seem clear to me from the OP. I read this as a list of advice given to a male friend. And just as with the letter to her brother that was recently published on Jezebel by Emiliy Heist-Moss, I’d say that, good intention, good points, but they’re served with a healthy does of aggression towards someone who has apparently *asked* about this, likely because he wonders about it himself, and as such seems to be interested in improving his perceived behaviour by considering this advice, as opposed to the group of people who are indeed seeing the behvaiour described in the OP as a power exercise and therefore seem unlikely to be interested in the advice given here.

  63. Caperton
    October 27, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    As far as conversation-starters are concerned, one of my loveliest bar-related evenings started with a hockey game on TV. I asked the bartender if he could turn on the closed captioning so I could read the game, he handed me the remote, and as I tried to sort it out, the guy about two stools down slid over and said, “Don’t like hockey?” I said, “I love hockey. I’m just trying to get the captioning on.” We tried to figure it out for ten minutes, by which time we freely conversing and ended up spending the rest of the evening together. It was a great opening line because it was completely organic, and there was no awkwardness because we had something to focus on besides each other and whether we’d ever find something to talk about.

  64. October 27, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Caperton: “Don’t like hockey?” I said, “I love hockey. I’m just trying to get the captioning on.” We tried to figure it out for ten minutes, by which time we freely conversing and ended up spending the rest of the evening together.

    Ah, the old closed captioning trick…nice one ;)

  65. Tatewaki
    October 27, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I want to get behind this. I REALLY want to get behind this. I just can’t. If I see a sexy woman, I will acknowledge her. I will look (in as respectful a manner as I can muster, which is heavily dependent on the amount of tequila shots consumed previously), and if I am sufficiently brave (or drunk, and if you’re getting your sexy on in a bar, you’d be silly to not expect this) enough, I might start a conversation. You might be saying “ew, get away”, as is your right to, but it is mine to look, approach, and score/get rejected. And, yea, dressing sexy is a sure way to attract that (unwanted?) attention. Understand that no one is saying you’re asking for it by any means. However, understand that it’s going to happen. No amount of chastising is going to stop it, sadly, and if you think a turtleneck is the answer, you’re still sadly mistaken.

  66. LC
    October 27, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    karak: Like I told Kevin, you ARE going to make someone uncomfortable. That happens in ALL human interactions. The key is being a good person when it does happen, acknowledge it, apologize for it, and strive to do better next time.

    Just bumping this for truth, since it is something I think people have trouble grasping.

  67. LC
    October 27, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Fat Steve: Complimenting a woman’s necklace if its right in the middle of her cleavage is creepy. Similarly if a woman has a really interesting tattoo on her arm, a compliment would not be creepy, but should said tattoo on her breast, then I wouldn’t immediately mention it.

    See, I think even this can be not-creepy, if handled well.

  68. igglanova
    October 27, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    Re: cleavage-spelunking necklaces. I wouldn’t consider it creepy per se if someone complimented me on such a thing (we’re getting into way hypothetical territory here with me and jewelry, though :P), but I would definitely feel some embarrassment if it was done poorly. Even if the person is well-meaning. I still think you should avoid complimenting something nestled cozily within the great tracts of land right out of the gate – but I don’t think it’s off limits or anything. Maybe, if you feel compelled to ask about it, wait until you’ve already established a rapport, so you won’t immediately poison the atmosphere with awkwardness.

    I mean, I always thought one of the main perks of wearing cool jewelry is that it makes a great conversation piece. People tend to enjoy talking about their adornments as long as you’re not a total creeper about it.

  69. harlemjd
    October 27, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    The thing to remember about a woman (or anyone) dressing “sexy” is that even if she IS dressing with the hopes of meeting a stranger (is “advertising”), there are two general types of advertising people do.

    1. listing a job opportunity – You’re welcome to bring yourself to my attention, but I may pass you over because you’re not what I want. With this sort of ad, the expectation is that I will be selective and you are expected to take rejection gracefully.

    2. advertising a sale on merchandise – I’m offering whatever I’m selling to literally anyone and everyone who walks in the door. With this sort of ad, the expectation is that there is no acceptable reason to turn anyone away as long as he has money and there is still merchandise in the stockroom.

    A woman dressing to attract a man is placing a “help wanted” sign, not a “coats for sale” sign. Acting like her dressing sexy obligates her to accept you personally is trying to turn her appearance into the equivalent of a sign saying “coats for sale” which, in turn, makes her an object instead of a person.

  70. October 28, 2011 at 1:13 am

    harlemjd: 1. listing a job opportunity – You’re welcome to bring yourself to my attention, but I may pass you over because you’re not what I want. With this sort of ad, the expectation is that I will be selective and you are expected to take rejection gracefully.

    Ideally, although even in this literal situation, plenty of people behave as if they are entitled to jobs merely by applying to them. Hence rhetoric about marginalized groups “stealing jobs”. :)

  71. October 28, 2011 at 1:42 am

    toritan:
    “Ultimately, guys have to realize that they wouldn’t want this behavior turned on them or their friends, so why subject women to it?”

    Except “guys” don’t have to worry about this kind of boorish oggling… because women don’t do it.

    Wellllllll…

    I was at the beach the other day with my 50-yo mother, and she kept pointing out attractive surfers on the beach, commenting on specific aspects of their appearance, and asking me to assess which ones were good looking. That seems pretty parallel to a lot of the male behavior being critiqued.

    That said, I hate that I always tense up when I walk by men sitting out on stoops or benches or what have you. Most don’t say anything, but there’s always a few…

  72. Crys T
    October 28, 2011 at 3:49 am

    Alexandra: I don’t think your mother’s behaviour was equivalent, unless she was shouting/getting in these guys’ faces/sitting next to some other guys and raising her voice as she made the comments specifically so they could hear.

    No one is saying don’t notice people that you find attractive, just a) don’t get in their faces about it & b) don’t expect them to reciprocate as if it were your due.

  73. Tony
    October 28, 2011 at 6:49 am

    @64 …Not being interested in certain topics such as sports and television is definitely a handicap :D But I’m not just going to turn into someone I’m not for the sake of meeting someone.

  74. Chuchundra
    October 28, 2011 at 7:19 am

    harlemjd:
    A woman dressing to attract a man is placing a “help wanted” sign, not a “coats for sale” sign.

    “Do I have any openings this man might fit?”

  75. Vajk
    October 28, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Question: if a woman doesn’t want the stereotyped, gender-typical ‘male’ response to dressing sexy (whatever that may be in her mind, though I posit it’s not nearly as “subjective” as one might think and has a very direct and objective correlation to the amount of bare skin being shown), then why does she consult the gender-stereotyped fashion norms when compiling her outfit? I mean, if you demean all men into hulking, pinching Neanderthals at the sight of female flesh, what’s going through your mind in dressing in a pre-conceived (by men, no less) “sexy” fashion that encourages *exactly* that behavior? That in and of itself is far more passive-aggressive than the guys who you’ll reject for having the nerve to then hit on you (“how dare they?”).

    Full disclosure: male, living in Europe, ex-g/f actually relieved to leave current country because men never ‘checked her out’ here (and this made her feel less desirable). Personal anecdotes aside, this entire thread is so neurotic it’s mind-boggling. #1 is the only valid point; it’s as if women want to bare skin without taking any responsibility for the reactions of men, who they seem to see as having little to no control over themselves. It’s like writing about the dangers of bloodthirsty sharks with no regard for human life, then going on in an 8 bullet-point list about the dramas of diving while bleeding in shark territory. I mean, I’m not saying the men are *justified* in their behavior, and certainly not in taking things too far, but if you believe that your way of dressing will illicit certain responses, why don’t you just, um, cope? It’s like buying a minivan and then lamenting you can’t keep up with the Mustang in the lane next to yours: what, exactly, were you expecting?

    In the end, why don’t both genders just try chilling the f-ck out and enjoying one another’s company instead of reeling off into some Freudian funhouse of repressed and unrepressed desires/innuendos?

  76. Alan
    October 28, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Your comment on Jr. High girls reminded me of my own daughter who was in 8th grade only 6 years ago. I found her getting ready for school in her most ‘clubby’ attire bordering on slutty. I had to sit her down and explain the meaning of one’s clothing choices. If she wanted to dress like a slutty girl, she would be treated like a slutty girl. She may not like it, or think it’s fair, but if your house was burning and a guy was on the sidewalk in firefighter gear and you ran to him for help, would you not be disappointed if he told you he couldn’t help and it was unfair of you to misinterpreted his usefulness ‘just by the clothes he was wearing’? Your outward appearance says volumes about you so don’t dress like someone you are not… at least until you’re old enough to defend yourself.

    Aunti Disestablishmentarian:
    Don’t assume she’s dressed sexy-like. As Caperton mentioned at the beginning of the post, sexy-like is subjective, both for the wearer and the oggler. She may be dressing casually for her, and you are reading into it.

    I am reminded of junior high school girls who wear revealing clubwear to school because they think it is the norm/expected of them/they like it, but they are wearing it without the explicit intent of garnering attention. It’s particularly heartbreaking to see girls and women not yet fully comfortable with their sexuality beaten down by harassing bs.

  77. EG
    October 28, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I find all these metaphors of cats and fish and sharks and bleeding divers very revealing about the attitudes of the writers toward heterosexual interaction.

    Think about it: is a man feeling sexual desire for a woman really anything like a member of a predatory species planning to trap, kill, and consume a member of another species? If your answer is “yes,” you have some serious problems with how you conceive of sex between men and women.

    Vajk:
    ;it’s as if women want to bare skin without taking any responsibility for the reactions of men, who they seem to see as having little to no control over themselves.

    Yes, that’s exactly right. Women should not be taking any responsibility for the actions of men. You know who has to take responsibility for the actions of men? Men. If they can’t, then they can admit that they are not responsible adults and thus not entitled to all the rights and privileges accruing to responsible adults.

    As to why we might dress that way–did you not read the post? Wanting to be desired does not mean wanting to be desired by you.

    In the end, why don’t both genders just try chilling the f-ck out and enjoying one another’s company instead of reeling off into some Freudian funhouse of repressed and unrepressed desires/innuendos?

    I’d be happy to try it, as soon as your gender stops harassing, assaulting, and terrorizing mine. Until then, I’m afraid that I don’t see chilling the fuck out as a viable option.

  78. Roberto
    October 28, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Vajk:

    By far, the best comment in this thread. Male-female relations have been pathologized into this combative arena where both genders are taught to mistrust each other. That’s what happens when you overthink things and try to impose politics onto biology.

    Men dig women. Some men are pricks about it. Some women are bitches about it. Men have long ago learned to brush off the bitchiness and move on. If women believe in equality, why don’t thy do the same and stop playing the victim?

  79. Silver Bullet
    October 28, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Shocking revelation: people who hurl themselves into intensely social environments like bars may have to interact with strangers Sometimes, those interactions may even be unpleasant or unwanted!

  80. kb
    October 28, 2011 at 10:54 am

    @ silver bullet. shocking revelation. People who hurl themselves into intensely social environments like bars or who attempt to turn the street into an intensely social environment might be expected to have social skills and use appropriate interactions.

  81. Silver Bullet
    October 28, 2011 at 11:09 am

    EG:

    I don’t think Vajk was saying sexual interaction is like a shark attack; I think the metaphor reflects how the neurotics view sexual interaction (or at least how the neurotics’ critics think the neurotics view sexual interaction).

  82. Caperton
    October 28, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Vajk @76 –

    Imagine a guy, a metaphorical guy, we’ll call him Walter, who buys a really swell car. He buys himself an Aston Martin Virage. Maybe he buys it because he thinks it looks cool. Maybe he buys it because it goes really fast, and he likes going really fast. Maybe he buys it because he feels cool when people look at it and know he can afford to drop $200k on a car. Maybe he even buys it so people will look at it and say, “Nice car,” and then he can take them out driving.

    Walter drives his car to a restaurant, and the valet parks it right out in front (because it’s awesome). As an observer, you have a number of options.

    a. Look at the car and get kind of shivery in the southerly region.
    b. Say to Walter, “Wow. Nice car.”
    c. Say to Walter, “Wow. Nice car” as you run your hand along its fender.
    d. Say to Walter, “Wow. Nice car. Can I drive it?” And he says no. And you shrug and walk off.
    d. Say to Walter, “Wow. Nice car. Can I drive it?” And he says no. And you say, “Come on. Just once around the block. No–once around the parking lot.” And he says no. And you say, “What if you drive it, and I’ll just sit in the passenger seat?” And he says no. And you say, “Can I just sit in it? Come on. I’m a nice guy. My shoes are clean.” And he says no and asks you to leave him alone. And you say, “You’re such a bitch! You buy this car, you take it to a parking lot where obviously, everybody is going to see it, and then you get pissed off when someone wants to take a ride? If you’re going to drive up in a fancy car, you have to expect that people are going to treat you like someone who rides around in a fancy car.”
    e. Say to Walter, “Wow. Nice car–the paint job, and that’s the 5.9-liter, right? Leather seats? God, that’s what I like in a car. I would love to take that for a ride. Really love to. Sometimes you just want to jump in one and drive off, you know? Maybe when the valet is looking, I’ll just grab the keys. Haha! Just kidding.” And he stares at you and backs away. And you say, “What’s wrong with you? I’m not going to actually steal it. God, Aston Martin drivers get so fucking sensitive sometimes.”

    Should Walter have just expected people to bother him and ask for rides and insult him just because he went out in his Aston Martin? If he knew people were going to lust after his car, why didn’t he just leave it at home? If you see his car, is it fair to assume that he drove it tonight because he wanted you to talk about it, or is it your job to consider that maybe he just drove it tonight because it’s fun to drive, and in fact your attention to it is making him feel uncomfortable and even threatened?

  83. Jennifer
    October 28, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I love this Aston Martin example.

    Y’all can look, just don’t CONSPICUOUSLY OGLE or drool or expect that she’ll put out for you tonight.

    The fun of being a woman is that you can’t necessarily leave your Aston Martin at home. Even if you cover it up with a giant dustcloth when you park it, there’s always some sicko who will still react like that.

  84. samanthab
    October 28, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    There have been studies that shown that women who are not orgasmic can become so by wearing less clothing. It’s hardly a universal, and clearly some women feel no interest in any type of putative “cure.” But the point remains that sexual shame can be toxic to some. I don’t think dressing “sexy” means you want to “feel sexy” as much as not feel ashamed of your body. Sexuality is a part of many people’s lived experiences. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I don’t know that it means you want to feel “sexy” per se as not be ashamed of a fundamental part of yourself. I’m not really close to being in full disagreement with you here, Caperton, but I tend to feel like the questions should be flipped here, namely why *shouldn’t* a woman feel free to dress “sexy?

  85. October 28, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    I think everyone realizes that women dress attractively to impress men whom she likes. But a lot of very unlikeable men will of course assume she likes specifically HIM.

  86. October 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Good piece. I try to give my older students the same piece of advice that a teacher gave me when I was in middle school – “eyes up here.” (I wasn’t staring at chests, I was just shy, but the effect is much the same.)

  87. October 28, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I don’t think Vajk was saying sexual interaction is like a shark attack; I think the metaphor reflects how the neurotics view sexual interaction (or at least how the neurotics’ critics think the neurotics view sexual interaction).

    Classic: whenever a woman complains about sexism, just call her neurotic! Hysterical works too. If those terms are too mid-century Freudian for you, you could always try “crazy bitch.”

  88. kb
    October 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    @alexandra too true. Let’s also not forget that calling these metaphors violent is hysterical, but we always have to let him have “the chase” and he should “pursue” and be a “hunter” otherwise he’ll lose interest.
    can’t win for all the losing.
    Seriously, the scariest blog I ever read actually recommended heterosexual women calling men they were in a relationship with “killer” rather than “sweetie, honey or dear” to make him more masuline But no, we mustn’t be neurotic and assume that men might listen to these messages. Or take them too far. never.
    /rant

  89. EG
    October 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Roberto:
    Vajk:

    By far, the best comment in this thread. Male-female relations have been pathologized into this combative arena where both genders are taught to mistrust each other. That’s what happens when you overthink things and try to impose politics onto biology.

    Men dig women. Some men are pricks about it. Some women are bitches about it. Men have long ago learned to brush off the bitchiness and move on. If women believe in equality, why don’t thy do the same and stop playing the victim?

    Because women have to worry about pricks with no social boundaries following them, touching them, stalking them, assaulting them, raping them, and/or fucking up their careers.

    It’s easy for men not to “play the victim”; they usually don’t become victims. It’s a little more difficult when, y’know, victimhood is thrust upon you.

  90. EG
    October 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Silver Bullet:
    EG:

    I don’t think Vajk was saying sexual interaction is like a shark attack; I think the metaphor reflects how the neurotics view sexual interaction (or at least how the neurotics’ critics think the neurotics view sexual interaction).

    Except that I see this metaphor all the time. In a recent beer commercial, a man hitting on a woman was being described as “a tiger stalking prey.” This was a mainstream ad, on mainstream TV, trying to appeal to a mass audience. The idea that it’s a description of how “neurotics” view heterosexual interaction is far too generous.

  91. petpluto
    October 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Alan: Your comment on Jr. High girls reminded me of my own daughter who was in 8th grade only 6 years ago. I found her getting ready for school in her most ‘clubby’ attire bordering on slutty. I had to sit her down and explain the meaning of one’s clothing choices. If she wanted to dress like a slutty girl, she would be treated like a slutty girl. She may not like it, or think it’s fair, but if your house was burning and a guy was on the sidewalk in firefighter gear and you ran to him for help, would you not be disappointed if he told you he couldn’t help and it was unfair of you to misinterpreted his usefulness ‘just by the clothes he was wearing’? Your outward appearance says volumes about you so don’t dress like someone you are not… at least until you’re old enough to defend yourself.

    Dude, until there is a slut uniform like there’s a fireman’s uniform, I don’t want to hear it. Dave Chappelle, you, and every other person who talks about the “whore uniform” or the “slut uniform” can take a flying leap. What you think is slutty could be what I consider every day wear, and vice versa.

    Sluttiness: it is in the eye of the beholder. And just because your eye beholds it doesn’t mean it’s what I’m going for or if it’s just all in your head.

    Sexiness: same deal.

    And let’s not pretend that girls should expect men to come up to them in bars. Men touch women in bars. On the street. On the subway. Whether they’re wearing parkas or short skirts or whatever.

    Here’s the deal: almost every woman is going to be treated like she’s a slut at one point in her life or another, whether or not she’s wearing what you personally consider the slut uniform. So why the hell shouldn’t I dress the way I want, if I’m going to be treated like I’m there to be ogled either way? What good am I doing myself if I start dressing more conservatively than I would like if there’s a 50/50 chance some guy is going to come up to me anyway?

    Everywhere women go, there will be guys. Everywhere women go, some of those guys are going to think it’s a good idea to say something to them. Everywhere women go, some of those things those guys say is going to fall under the “inappropriate” umbrella. Why make any concessions to them? They’re the ones with the problem, not the women.

  92. October 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Petpluto’s comments about the “slut uniform” are right on.

    Back when I lived in Providence, I’d sometimes go out to a club to go dancing, by myself. Because, dammit, I was a liberated woman and didn’t need an escort to go to a club, right? Well, I stopped going pretty quickly because every single time I went out, as a single lady, in a short skirt, boots, and a blouse, I either got solicited for prostitution or sexually assaulted. One dude stuck his hand up my skirt and grabbed my crotch, at a gay club where I’d gone to meet women.

    Nobody had the right to assault me. And while I was annoyed by being solicited for prostitution, the line between “club wear” and “streetwalker wear” is kinda close, I guess (although I wasn’t wearing any spandex. Oh well.) It’s just a pity to me that I am now truly afraid to go out alone at night. I loved the feeling of independence, of making my own rules, that I used to get.

    This truly does not happen to men the way it happens to women. For one thing, heterosexual men’s clothing, while frequently attractive and sometimes downright sexy, is basically never “slutty.” If I, as a young woman, want to go to a dance club and blend in, there really isn’t anything I could wear that wouldn’t be considered sexy by a lot of people, and slutty by some. Heterosexual men’s clubwear just doesn’t work like that. Last of all, women do not feel entitled to men’s bodies the way men feel entitled to women’s bodies. A man walking around in a speedo would get a much different reaction from a club full of women than a topless woman in a club full of men, that’s for sure. And anyone who says that isn’t unfair? Is an asshole. Because feminism is about equality in the political sphere and basic fairness in day-to-day life.

  93. Seriously?
    October 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    As to why we might dress that way–did you not read the post? Wanting to be desired does not mean wanting to be desired by you.

    So it really does come down to that old trope, where it’s unwanted attention, unless he’s flashing a Rolex?

  94. Silver Bullet
    October 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Jennifer:
    I love this Aston Martin example.

    Y’all can look, just don’t CONSPICUOUSLY OGLE or drool or expect that she’ll put out for you tonight.

    The fun of being a woman is that you can’t necessarily leave your Aston Martin at home. Even if you cover it up with a giant dustcloth when you park it, there’s always some sicko who will still react like that.

    So why do so many women knowingly dress extremely provocatively and then go to a bar? When they know the way they dress will only drastically increase the odds of attracting every kind of attention from men imaginable (even if they would be harassed by some men no matter what they wore)? There is a huge disconnect here that needs to be addressed.

    And none of these legitimate questions are meant to “justify” violent/illegal/rude/antisocial behavior on the part of men.

  95. Roving Thundercloud
    October 28, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Petpluto @ #90, thank you so much! I am looking forward to telling THAT to my daughter when she starts dressing in ways I can’t stand. (And then taking a valium and trying to let her get on with her life.)

    Xinaji @ #48, I don’t have a lot of great advice for you, but I like the fact that you seem to know yourself well. Have you asked around at Wrong Planet? Others on the spectrum must have some advice.

  96. petpluto
    October 28, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Silver Bullet: So why do so many women knowingly dress extremely provocatively and then go to a bar? When they know the way they dress will only drastically increase the odds of attracting every kind of attention from men imaginable (even if they would be harassed by some men no matter what they wore)? There is a huge disconnect here that needs to be addressed.

    Here’s a question to you: what counts as extremely provocatively? If all women start wearing parkas to bars in order to not be “provocative”, is the one woman in a windbreaker suddenly going to get “every kind of attention from men imaginable”?

    Try this: women aren’t there for you, personally. If I’m dressing provocatively, when I was getting dressed I had no idea that you even existed, let alone that we would be in the same bar.

    If I’m dressing provocatively, it could be that I’m wearing something I feel good in, and don’t even think of it as “provocative”. I could be wearing it because I’m with my friends, and we’re dressing to impress each other. It could be that a pair of really awesome shoes paired with a nice dress is exactly the pick-me-up I need that night.

    It generally isn’t that a guy in a bar is going to talk to me. Because when I was getting dressed, I had no idea that guy even existed in the world, let alone that we would be in the same building. So I wasn’t dressing for him. So I don’t “know” if that guy (or any guy) is going to be giving me any kind of attention imaginable. I’m not thinking about that guy. I’m thinking about me.

    And, frankly, the idea that I should dress according to what will keep guys in bars from giving me any kind of attention imaginable if I don’t want to get creepily hit on is offensive – to me and to men in general.

    I believe men in general can be respectful of women – even in bars. Crazy thought, but I believe men can make the logical leap that maybe I’m not there for them, and therefore they can tailor their response accordingly. By, like, treating me like a person.

    Crazy thought, I know.

  97. October 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    petpluto: Here’s a question to you: what counts as extremely provocatively?

    I’m guessing two legs, breathing, that kind of thing….

  98. RR
    October 28, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    JadeyExcept humans are not slaves to stereo typed instinctive behaviour the way that many animals are – we are quite capable, if motivated, to control our instinctual, reflexive responses.

    I’m not attracted to breasts, but exposed cleavage still captures my eye easily and quickly. I think there is something instinctive going on, but I don’t know what.

    I’ve only embarrassed myself by staring once. I thought I saw a completely naked woman out of the corner of my eye. At work. My head did the WTF-Mach1 twist before I realized she was wearing clothing that seemed to be nothing more than string and net. Just not appropriate for a business-casual environment. I guess I would have responded the same way to a “naked” man.

    At Starbucks recently I was seated at a table and a woman came in and sat on one of the high stools directly facing me. Her skirt rode completely up. I felt like I wasn’t allowed to look at that side of the store anymore. My friend swapped seats with me, she said the rules didn’t apply to her.

    we are quite capable, if motivated, to control our instinctual, reflexive responses

    Are you saying there are no similar things that might occur in a woman’s mind? No WTF head spins, no “how do I stop staring” moments? I think that would be sad.

    As for actually verbalizing anything, I don’t think I would ever comment on a woman’s appearance unless we were already friends.

  99. kb
    October 28, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Are you saying there are no similar things that might occur in a woman’s mind? No WTF head spins, no “how do I stop staring” moments? I think that would be sad.

    most women have to learn how to stop staring. Sure, women notice. but as almost everyone here is saying, there’s noticing, and there’s being a jerk about it. Most women, especially those not “stereotypically hot” don’t have the luxury of not learning how to look without staring. We don’t have the luxury of not learning the little “sorry” smile that keeps a WTF head turn from being leering. Men can learn this too.

  100. Raja
    October 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Take a quick glance to admire the person and if there is an opportunity to start a polite conversation and you feel said person would welcome it than take a shot. If rejected move on. Honestly, none of the girls I’ve become friends with were ones i met on the street or any other public places unless you count school as one of them. there is probably a reason for that.

  101. RR
    October 28, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    petpluto: Here’s a question to you: what counts as extremely provocatively? If all women start wearing parkas to bars in order to not be “provocative”, is the one woman in a windbreaker suddenly going to get “every kind of attention from men imaginable”?

    I was just re-reading Hawkins “On Intelligence”, where he describes (his theory) of how the brain is a prediction engine. For instance when you’re staring at a face, the higher levels of your brain keep sending signals down the chain – “expecting to see eyes”, “expecting a nose”, “now a mouth”, “eyes”, “ears”, “eyes”. The lower levels are sending up messages “it’s an eye”, “it’s a nose”, “same eye again”. As long as the two keep agreeing it’s all invisible – you just see a face. As soon as they disagree an alarm shoots up the chain – your attention is jerked straight to the unexpected feature. If the unexpected feature ever becomes common enough to be another “it’s just a…” then it goes back to being invisible.

    So anyway, that’s why we should be walking around naked all the time, so that it won’t be unusual.

  102. saurus
    October 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Silverbullet says:

    So why do so many women knowingly dress extremely provocatively and then go to a bar? When they know the way they dress will only drastically increase the odds of attracting every kind of attention from men imaginable (even if they would be harassed by some men no matter what they wore)? There is a huge disconnect here that needs to be addressed.

    Well, many women dress like that because they do want to attract a particular kind of attention from particular people. I say that because it’s rare that a woman wants every kind of attention from every person out there. Maybe she just wants certain people to look at her, or maybe she wants to be hit on, or maybe she wants to find someone to fuck.

    The problem is that that’s exactly what a lot of guys think – that if she dresses a certain way, she ought to be receptive to every kind of attention from every person out there, and if not she’s a cocktease or whatever. But of course, many women aren’t actually being cockteases – and even still, it’s perfectly within a woman’s prerogative to “cocktease” (suggest in whatever way she wants that she’s interested in anything without doing whatever she suggests). Fashion is not a commitment. Sometimes it feels good when other people approve of your body or show desire for you, and that’s something I wouldn’t begrudge anyone even if it does take the form of traditional gender roles or whatever.

    I, personally, used to go “clubbing” and wore skimpier clothes like other women did. But after some time, I sort of grew out of that interest, and the attention just felt cheap – I became more interested in them appreciating how I present my identity than how I present, quite literally, my body. Now, I still sometimes dress “for others”, but instead of that look manifesting itself as conventional “sexy-like”, it looks more like…me. A nice piece of wool outerwear can make me feel like a million bucks, and part of that is feeling pleased with how I look, but part of that is feeling pleased with how I think others will perceive me in that coat, even though it’s not “sexy”.

    I want to note something else. Even when I did dress skimpy, I had no intention of actually getting involved with any club guys – I was happily taken. Sure, the ego boost of someone attempting can be nice, but that wasn’t my real interest either. My real interest was looking cool around my friends, who were an evenly mixed-gender group. It was kind of like, “See guys? I clean up well!”

  103. harlemjd
    October 28, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Silverbullet

    Lets say she’s dressing sexy because she’s looking for a one-night stand. Even IF that’s true, her appearance is announcing “convince me I should pick you” NOT “I’m open to all comers, having surrendered all rights to standards or bodily autonomy.” A woman can want to fuck, can even want to fuck a stranger, without being obligated to fuck any stranger who happens to pass by.

  104. October 28, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    RR: I’m not attracted to breasts, but exposed cleavage still captures my eye easily and quickly. I think there is something instinctive going on, but I don’t know what.

    RR: Are you saying there are no similar things that might occur in a woman’s mind? No WTF head spins, no “how do I stop staring” moments? I think that would be sad.

    Uh, no – women are human beings too, so we have instincts as well, and I never said anything to the contrary. Your interpretation of my comment is strange.

    The point is that although we have reflexive responses, our brains are developed enough in terms of the frontal cortex, which is theorized to link with executive function (i.e., the bit of our brains in charge of complex planning and decision making) that we are capable of over-riding these impulses (once the brain is developed and providing we don’t have particular brain deficits or damage). It is, in fact, BIOLOGY, as the previous commenter put it. We are not the only organisms capable of doing this, of course (which is why dogs can be housebroken, etc.), but our relatively well-developed brains make us especially capable of doing so. It’s kind of the foundation of human civilization.

    Shorter: Human males are far more capable and intelligent than they sometimes claim to be. Why they so often insist otherwise is beyond me.

  105. Nick
    October 28, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    I use my sense of empathy if I want to, to give the woman what she wants. If she wants attention, to be raptured by my gaze, if it gives her pleasure, I give it. But if it does not I do not. I know that being examined can make you feel good, but it can also make you feel used and gross. If I’m not using my empathy, I’m not looking at her.

  106. October 28, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    So because I’m a woman – is it more wrong that *my* initial reaction to seeing a woman out in a skin-tight outfit that shows more skin than it covers is that she is wearing it to get attention? Or that I think that if the exact same “attention” came from a man (or woman) whom she found attractive, it’s alright but suddenly it’s “EW you sicko I can wear what I want” when it’s someone she doesn’t find remotely attractive? That my initial reaction to her will be “well, did you expect everyone to behave as if you’re wearing pants and a turtleneck, in that outfit?”

    HOWEVER: I do not at all, ever, feel that what a woman wears or does ever makes rape or assault her fault or that she was asking for it. There’s a huge huge line between making inappropriate comments / badgering and sexual assault.

    Human males are capable of behaving like gentlemen. Except you’re also forgetting that it’s a cultural thing. I could say black men or latino men but that’s not fair to make it about race. It’s the culture the person was raised in – in some it is more prevalent and not as offensive to women. Or it is prevalent but it is not to the degree that we see here in America – where it can lead to harassment or assault, quickly, especially if alcohol is involved.

  107. Politicalguineapig
    October 28, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    I wore a knee length skirt once, to the premiere music club in my local city. Why? Because it was hot, and I’d never been to that club before and wanted to look nice. (I had a pair of shorts on underneath). I didn’t dress up for any particular reason beyond that, and I normally don’t wear skirts or dresses at all. Why? Too damn dangerous. I can’t fight in them, and why would I want to look weak?

  108. October 28, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    I do NOT feel flattered to say rude things to women who are dressed in a sexy manner. That is the very definition of a misogynist asshole. And there are way too many of those in my gender.

    DevilsEyeTooth: For the record, I pride myself on ignoring women who walk into bars in a slinky dresses so as not to offend them with rude attention or comments or causing them to fear me in some anti predatory fashion…

    But once, after sitting in silence for the better part of 45 minutes, this caused the women in question to chuck a shot glass at the side of my head and shout “what do I have to do to get your fucking attention!” before storming out.

    I sit in silence too when I am somewhere, or I look on my Mobile Web to see some important news/weather/sports.

    If a woman slings a liquid on me simply because I am minding my own beeswax, trust me, she would waking up in a jail cell the following morning – charged with assault. I’m serious.

    Ladies, if there is a reason I am not saying something about the way you are dressed, then consider the following reasons why:

    a. I have a girlfriend.
    b. I am watching something on television (mostly either news or sporting event).
    c. I have no interest.

    Kristen J.:

    Topics of conversation not involving physical appearances:

    1) What are you drinking;
    2) This drink is delicious;
    3) This [thing on tv] is boring/fascinating/long/short/even/a blow out;
    4) Did you see [event] last week;
    5) Did you hear about Theo Epstein;
    6) Dear god did the Red Sox suck this year;
    7) Do you know of a good [restaurant/coffeehouse/craft store] around here…

    There is almost infinite variety in the number of random things you can talk about with a stranger that do not involve her appearance.

    Agree with this list, Kristen. But, I am not really big on professional stick-and-ball sports. So, if I talk pro sports with her, I’ll talk about how Brian Vickers intentionally wrecked Marcos Ambrose at Richmond, or how Bluffton beat Battery Creek 82-0.

    Roberto:
    Vajk:

    By far, the best comment in this thread. Male-female relations have been pathologized into this combative arena where both genders are taught to mistrust each other. That’s what happens when you overthink things and try to impose politics onto biology.

    Men dig women. Some men are pricks about it. Some women are bitches about it. Men have long ago learned to brush off the bitchiness and move on. If women believe in equality, why don’t thy do the same and stop playing the victim?

    Here is the thing, Roberto. Women are not playing the victim. Women ARE the victims! Women are the victims of harassment by my gender day in and day out! If we (read: men) stopped harassing women on a daily basis, this world would be a better place for women!

  109. October 28, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    BTW, Bluffton and Battery Creek are high school football-playing schools in South Carolina. Sorry that I rushed into posting!

  110. Jacky
    October 28, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    saurus:
    Ithinkthekeytocomplimentsisunderstandingthatthemostrespectfulonesfromstrangersaren’tsexualized.Onceit’ssexualized,itcanbecomedisgusting,uncomfortableandeventhreatening.

    Sexualizedverbal/bodylanguage:

    “hot”,“sexy”,staringatthebody,gettingtooclosetotheperson,preventingthepersonfromcontinuingontheirpath/activity,makinganyreferencetosexualizedbodypartslikebreasts,butt,legs

    Non-sexualizedverbal/bodylanguage:

    “beautiful”,“amazing”,“pretty”,makingeyecontact,keepingaregulardistance,onlymakingreferencetonon-sexualizedbodypartsornospecificbodypartsatalllikehair,face,personalstyle

    It’sworthnotingthatsomemarginalized/devaluedbodiesactuallygetalittletoomuchofthelatterandalittletoomuchfortheformer;i.e.,fatwomenbeingtoldtheyhave“greathair”orphysicallydisabledwomenbeingtoldtheyhavea“prettyface”orwhatever.WhileI’mdefinitely,definitelynotsayingthatstrangersshouldstartthrowingsexualizedcomplimentsatpeoplewhosebodiesaresystemicallydevalued(forobviousreasons,pluspeoplewhosebodiesaresystemicallydevaluedalsotendtohavetheirbodiessystemicallyattackedinbothsexualizedandnon-sexualizedways),Idothinkit’sworthnotingthatincertainspecificcontexts,receivingasexualizedcomplimentfeelbothamazingandradical.Fatwomen,forexample,canbebothbeautifulandalsojaw-hits-floorsalivating“unnnh”hot.

    I’d like to add that for some women, especially women of colour, comments on their hair can come off as creepy and fetishistic. I’m First Nations and wear my hair long for spiritual reasons and because my Kokum’s generation didn’t have the freedom to express any identification with traditional spirituality. I get a lot of sexualized comments/rape threats which involve my hair. This is not ok. That’s is not to say that genuine complements about my, or any other WOC’s hair are all creepy, but I can tell if you are commenting out of some kind of fetishization or because you have some understanding that for me long hair is associated with empowerment. When in doubt it’s better to complement me on an interesting piece of clothing, patch, pin, or the book I’m reading.

  111. October 28, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    ok to teh menz, I have something to say! I’m a queer girl, and I can’t help but notice the lovely ladies, just like you! The major dif? Also a girl, and as such, likely to have people bother me or eyeball me in a way that makes me uncomfortable. So! I see the pretty ladies, but I don’t stare at them! (or well, I try really hard not to stare) I don’t do stupid obvious crap like looking them up and down or make comments about how they look. I try to be respectful. That’s all, cuz I recognize that women are also people, like me…so even if they are all dolled up and wearing very little and titties galore..I just, try to be respectful. That’s all. I get a glimpse of the loveliness, and I praise the universe for that, and then I go about my freaking day without interuppting someone else’s. Its not hard. Just don’t be a douche.

  112. bpbetsy
    October 28, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    “So it really does come down to that old trope, where it’s unwanted attention, unless he’s flashing a Rolex?”

    Nope. A guy could have three Rolexes on each arm, but it’s still unwanted attention to women who, say, are lesbians, or asexual, or in a monogamous relationship with somebody else, or aren’t attracted to your physical characteristics, or are aren’t in the mood to socialize with other people, or are busy and focused on getting from point A to point B without distraction, or are especially cautious of/uncomfortable with any sort of attention from strangers, or are a survivor and find your brand of sexual attention triggering, or are of the mind that their body is something private and not up for public commentary, or find your style of flirtation cheesy/scary/creepy, etc, etc, etc.

    Basically any reason. Although I guess it’s easier to assume that women’s responses are simply based on how wealthy a man looks.

  113. DevilsEyeTooth
    October 28, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Jovan1984If a woman slings a liquid on me simply because I am minding my own beeswax, trust me, she would waking up in a jail cell the following morning – charged with assault. I’m serious.

    LOL, I don’t mean to be condescending but have you ever tried to report a women for assault? I watched a friend try to do this once, a woman became upset with hm when he “stole her seat” at a local restaurant (Chipotle). After the 3rd cop he managed to flag down laughed at him and left, he gave up.

  114. bpbetsy
    October 29, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Also you can’t read a woman’s mind and know that she “decided” to dress “provocatively.”

    Some women’s bodies look “sexy” in almost all clothing, if they are especially curvaceous. Some women find certain fabrics and cuts to be the most comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. Some have trouble keeping a cool enough body temperature so they wear less. Some want to look hot for their girlfriends. Some dress sexy because they’re on their way to a job in the sex industry.

    Don’t assume that your personal erection has anything whatsoever to do with it.

  115. Leila
    October 29, 2011 at 2:56 am

    Vajk: it’s as if women want to bare skin without taking any responsibility for the reactions of men

    … Uh, that’s EXACTLY what it’s as if. Why would I take ‘responsibility’ for a man’s unpredictable reaction to my black dress?! Our entire legal system would fall apart if we started to take this kind of reasoning seriously.

  116. Hannibal Lecher
    October 29, 2011 at 6:58 am

    There’s no excuse for physical touching or verbal harassment, but I can’t resist looking at a sexy woman. I try to be discreet but the impulse to look is strong. I really appreciate female beauty and don’t mean to be disrespectful. Sometimes I ask if I can smell her panties.

  117. toenails
    October 29, 2011 at 8:12 am

    All hypothetical-like:
    Let’s say you’re a rich guy who goes out clubbing or shopping or whatever, wearing clothes that scream “expensive!” And a Rolex watch, for good measure. Let’s say you get mugged.
    Let’s say you are aware that people get mugged from time to time. Let’s even go as far as to say that you’re aware of the fact that wearing obviously expensive stuff might elevate the risk of you getting mugged. The inevitable conclusion: the sole possible reason for you to wear obviously expensive stuff is because you want to get mugged! Any other agenda is inconceivable.

    Yes, various individuals are oftentimes fully aware of how other people might react to certain ways of dressing/acting/etc. It is entirely possible for these individuals to not give a shit. It is entirely possible for these individuals to act/dress in that certain way and still expect to be treated with respect. It is entirely possible, and entirely justified, for these individuals to dislike and complain about certain reactions, even if these reactions were completely predictable, maybe even “inevitable”.

    Comments that go “but why else would women dress all sexy-like?” impose normativity onto other people, imho.

    Roberto:

    That’s what happens when you over think things and try to impose politics onto biology.

    It’s funny how trying to remove the politics* of gender essentialism from biology is seen as imposing politics onto biology. (*Because they are politics; even if they happen to completely saturate society it doesn’t mean that they are somehow neutral, objective and unimposing.)

  118. EG
    October 29, 2011 at 8:30 am

    So it really does come down to that old trope, where it’s unwanted attention, unless he’s flashing a Rolex?

    Wow, for all their vaunted “get a sense of humor” cracks, anti-feminists really can’t take a joke, can they?

    Dude, it’s unwanted attention if she’s not into you for any reason whatsoever–your income, your hair color, the fact that your jawline is just like her father’s–it doesn’t have to be a reason that meets your standards of acceptability. Just hers.

  119. EG
    October 29, 2011 at 8:32 am

    LOL, I don’t mean to be condescending but have you ever tried to report a women for assault? I watched a friend try to do this once, a woman became upset with hm when he “stole her seat” at a local restaurant (Chipotle). After the 3rd cop he managed to flag down laughed at him and left, he gave up.

    It’s a tough old world out there, full of injustice. I’ll put this at the top of my activism priorities.

  120. llama
    October 29, 2011 at 8:50 am

    There’s a lot of ongoing debate about what, exactly, a woman is looking for when she goes out dressed all sexy-like (which is itself a subjective concept).

    Is there? where?

  121. Seriously?
    October 29, 2011 at 9:04 am

    It’s a funny thing, feminist “logic”.

    DO NOT APPROACH WOMEN IT IS UNWANTED. WAIT FOR HER TO APPROACH YOU THEN IT’S OKAY.

    Uh, no. Then that makes it unwanted, too.

    Women are not the sole arbiters of social interaction, sorry to inform you.

    Though, I’ve a hunch that if this were reversed a bit, men would still be labeled as “misogynists” and bad guys, or just told they were “afraid of strong women”, if they refused an advance in a bar from a female.

  122. EG
    October 29, 2011 at 9:22 am

    I guess that if the only way you know how to approach women is to follow a woman you’ve never met before down the street saying things like “nice tits,” then, indeed, the feminist stance is that you should not approach women.

    Fortunately, some men have better social skills than that. The fact that you do not is not feminism’s problem.

  123. Kristin A
    October 29, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Aunti Disestablishmentarian:
    Don’tassumeshe’sdressedsexy-like.AsCapertonmentionedatthebeginningofthepost,sexy-likeissubjective,bothforthewearerandtheoggler.Shemaybedressingcasuallyforher,andyouarereadingintoit.

    Iamremindedofjuniorhighschoolgirlswhowearrevealingclubweartoschoolbecausetheythinkitisthenorm/expectedofthem/theylikeit,buttheyarewearingitwithouttheexplicitintentofgarneringattention.It’sparticularlyheartbreakingtoseegirlsandwomennotyetfullycomfortablewiththeirsexualitybeatendownbyharassingbs.

    Well said, “Don’t assume she’s dressed sexy-like to begin with” definitely needs to be added to the top of the list here.

    My roommate has size DD breasts that she can’t do anything about, and she takes extreme measures to hide them because she has grown up getting SO MUCH shit from guys.

    But on the hottest days of summer in Texas, sometimes she just wants to go out in a damn tank-top, but has to endure whistles and cat calls from all the disgusting pigs she passes by wherever she goes.

    It really is sick. She told me she started crying once while walking to class in just a normal t-shirt and a guy yelled “nice tits.” She’d finally had enough and stood up to the asshole, to which he replied: “Well don’t flaunt ‘em like that then if you don’t want me to notice ‘em, slut!”

    I feel for her so much…as a woman with A-cups, I have endured the opposite my whole life. Once a guy in one of my classes in high school said in front of everyone, “You should put some air in those things, you’re as flat as Kansas!”

    Men need to see what they’re doing and realizes that they are objectifying women when they act like this. It’s degrading and hurtful.

  124. samanthab
    October 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Dangerous Lilly, yes, you ARE wrong to assume that women who dress sexily are doing so to attract male attention. It’s called slut shaming. Read up. I dress in “sexy” outfits while I’m home alone. You aren’t a mind reader, and anytime you play that role, it says something about your own projections and rather than the individual onto whom you project. Why the hell is it your business to make moral judgments about how women are dressed?

  125. Annie D
    October 30, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Thanks for all the “or girls,” I for one really appreciated the inclusiveness.

  126. Hershele Ostropoler
    October 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    llama:
    #9 should be: if you have your female partner with you then don’t do #1

    As I read it, that’s making some unwarranted assumptions about the nature of this generic relationship.

    Stentor: I’ve honestly never understood the “beautiful eyes” compliment. Unless they’re bloodshot from lack of sleep or something, eyes all seem the same to me beauty-wise

    The eyes of someone I’m in love with are beautiful. Which makes it more than a little presumptuous to say “you have beautiful eyes” tot a total stranger.

    Seriously?: So it really does come down to that old trope, where it’s unwanted attention, unless he’s flashing a Rolex?

    For some people, yeah. That wasn’t the only posibility mentioned in the post.

    RR: So anyway, that’s why we should be walking around naked all the time, so that it won’t be unusual.

    It’s 43 degrees in New York!

  127. October 30, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    How is it so difficult for so many people to get the difference between:

    “It is okay to talk to a woman in a respectful manner but if she says she isn’t interested, you must walk away.”

    and:

    “It is never okay to talk to a woman ever about anything in any situation ever ever ever you evil menz.”

    In case you were wondering, the post and the comments support the post? Are saying the former.

  128. Crys T
    October 31, 2011 at 8:23 am

    @Rosemary Well golly gee whiz, if you can’t let Seriously be willfully obtuse, how is he going to be able to participate here? Huh? You meanie!

  129. Ryven
    October 31, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    @Rosemary

    At least for me, the issue is trust. It’s hard to know how to properly explain how attracted you are to a woman without a solid level of trust. How far can you go in your assessment? Are there trigger words or phrases to avoid? Does she even want to hear it in the first place? I have maybe one or two female friends with whom I have built up enough trust over the last 5 years where if I were to make a comment like “wow, your butt looks awesome in that skirt”, they know I’m married and don’t mean anything else by it but the simple admiration. When approaching someone you don’t know and lacking any context, though, balancing expression of interest with caution is awkward and I have always erred WAY on the side of caution, probably to my detriment. It wouldn’t hurt the English language to have a word for ‘sexy’ that implied professionalism somehow.

    On a totally different note is getting dressed up just to feel sexy primarily a feminine* thing? As a straight man if I want to look good, it’s for someone else’s benefit, not mine so the concept seems weird to me.

    *I’m using ‘feminine’ here to describe mostly women – maybe straight women, I don’t know? – and gay men. I’m trying to not be gender-specific and inclusive to all sexualities but man, am I stumbling over vocabulary trying to do it.

  130. October 31, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    @Ryven – sure, I also have female friends that I’m really close with and have known for many years that I can say things like “your boobs look hot tonight!” and it’s all taken in good fun. But even as a woman I’d never say such a thing to another woman who I barely knew or didn’t know at all! That’s just not cool for the many many reasons already listed in thus post and the comments to it.

    What I might say if I wanted to approach a woman I was attracted to would be something like “I find you really attractive, and just wanted you to know that” and then smile, make eye contact, and walk away unless she made an effort to continue the conversation. What that does is initiate contact (so I’m not just sitting there staring at her), offer a compliment (starts things off on a positive note), let my feelings/intent be known clearly (so she knows I’m interested and can gauge how to reply accordingly) without specifically pointing out something that might feel objectifying or triggering or offensive to her to have pointed out by a total stranger (such as “nice tits” or “your legs look great in that dress”), and allow for that to clearly be the end of the contact if she doesn’t wish to engage further (instead of lingering about creepily or taking a pleasant thank you or polite counter-compliment to as an excuse to stick around if I’m not wanted).

    But an even better approach, honestly, wouldn’t be to say anything about her appearance at all in that initial contact. Start with “hi” and “how are you this evening?” and “my name is ABC and I heard you talking about XYZ and think we might have a common interest…” THEN, if things go smoothly, you can insert a compliment about her appearance, ykwim?

    Not being a dude, I’ve no idea if dressing up sexy is primarily a feminine/female/woman/chick thing. I can tell you that I personally sometimes do dress up in ways that I personally find sexy with no other reasoning or intention than that I feel like feeling sexy that day! Most days, I go for comfort over style, but not every day.

    Also, btw, I know you’re acknowledging that you’re stumbling over your vocab, but just for future reference, try not to equate gay men with feminine as not all gay men ID that way. Nor do all women, even straight women. I think I understand what you’re trying to say and actually leaving it strictly at “feminine people” might have been best?

  131. Ryven
    October 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Thanks for understanding on the vocab. I’m really horrible at that sort of thing. it seems impossible to not exclude, overgeneralize or offend anyone with the English language concerning sexuality and gender without long convoluted phrases like “people who self-identify with traits considered traditionally feminine in the American culture.” Frustrating. >:(

  132. Jen
    November 1, 2011 at 7:50 am

    The rolex remark was icky. I really don’t want anyone to asume I’m dressed sexy to score a rich many either!!! Showing cleavage to get in a mans wallet is at least as bad of behavior as staring at cleavage just because its there! Seriously. Get off my side with that garbage!

  133. utopia27
    November 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    @Ryven – I think the “dressing-up for yourself” thing is not exclusively feminine. Someday, if you wake up feeling less-than-with-it, try choosing some clothes that you know flatter you. For me, it provides a bit of pick-me-up, regardless of whether I need to be better-dressed for work or socializing, or whatever.

    Or maybe it’s just me ‘getting in touch with my feminine side’. ;)

  134. November 1, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Love this.

  135. Tessa
    November 1, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    This is such a great article. I hate it when guys are all creepy on me. Whenever I dress sexy, it’s either because I’m feeling confident and I like how I look (and a little bit because I want other people to notice that I feel good, but mostly it’s just for me), or because my boyfriend likes it and I’m happy to oblige. But I most definitely DO NOT want people to be creepy to me. Men are fully capable of appreciating a woman’s beauty without being creepy, and giving honest, genuine compliments that aren’t hyper-sexualized or uncomfortable! A few guys have given me those before, and they are much appreciated. But leering? Unwanted touching? Yelling at me and continuing to yell when I ignore you? Cat calls? Loudly commenting to your friends about me? Staring? Complimenting my “ass” and “bedroom eyes”? All of those things make me feel gross and unsafe, and they make me want to get far away from you.

    It’s funny, the other day I actually experienced this myself. And I wasn’t even dressed sexy, I was in my work clothes! Apparently this group of three guys thought I was sexy as I walked to my car after work, and yelled at me and continued yelling when I ignored them. I finally responded, thinking maybe they would leave me alone, but they continued to be lewd and annoying and one of them tried to walk me to my car. All they while they were degrading my boyfriend (who wasn’t with me) and tried to get my number. I had to act like a total bitch in order for them to even start to back off (and that’s not my nature at all). I was terrified I was going to be raped, I’ve never felt so scared before. Guys, just be respectful please. That’s all we’re asking.

  136. ColdSnap
    November 2, 2011 at 1:42 am

    This post is awesome, and thank you for it. I’ve thought about this a lot.

    My favorite outfits often display a lot of leg and/or cleavage, because those are parts of my body that I feel are attractive. When I wear outfits that make me feel sexy/beautiful/whatever, it boosts my mood and I feel quite confident for most of the day. It’s never crossed my mind to wear clothing to get attention from other people, and I often don’t know how to react when I do get attention, whether it’s “harmless” or not. So many different factors go into people’s clothing selections that I can’t understand why someone would make any assumptions about people’s clothing at all (in this case, I “understand” what’s behind it, but I don’t understand what the individuals who make these assumptions are thinking while they do it).

    I’m at a point in my life where I really don’t want anything to do with guys who need an explanation like the one you’ve provided. I’m glad the explanation is there, because clearly people can and do benefit from it and it starts productive conversations, but anyone who doesn’t already get it is not someone I personally want to spend time with.

    And getting it isn’t complicated — I’ve met men who don’t know a single thing about feminism or feminist theory who don’t need such an explanation, because they know how to treat people with respect. Even before my current partner started getting interested in feminism, he tried his best to be respectful to everyone and therefore understood that treating women like garbage because of what they’re wearing isn’t particularly adult or attractive behavior.

  137. random due
    November 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I didn’t have time to read all the posts, so maybe someone said this already…

    I have a little girl. I also work a second job as a bouncer at a bar in a college town. And, to top it off, my day job is teaching college. … My point is, I have some perspective here.

    First I want to say Right on!

    But then come a few caveats:

    The way we conduct ourselves in public is …. well, it’s public. Therefore, there is a social contract. If there are unacceptable ways for men to dress or behave, then there are unacceptable ways for anyone to dress or behave – this includes women and their wardrobe selections.

    You are not behaving in a vaccuum. You are not invisible. And, no matter how you define “sexy”, invisibility is not part of the definition.

    No, it is not OK for men to act like assholes. That is, after all, while we have such strong language to describe the behavior. But make an effort to rise above the fray.

    As a dad, I worry. You get it, enough said.

    As a bouncer, I see EVERYTHING. I’ve even seen/talked to women who really do get upset when men don’t behave like jerks. Really. Some even complain and ask me to throw guys out for ignoring them. I’m not joking. It really happens, hard as it may be to believe.

    I also have to protect women who are treated poorly by men. It’s a big part of my job. Just the other night (we were open for Halloween despite normally being closed on Mondays) I had to fight 5 bikers because one decide to grab a woman’s ass and then shove her when she told him off. I took a beating (black eye, bruised rib) on her behalf, and this is a somewhat regular occurrence. … If you girls can’t aren’t willing to deal with the jerks, please be mindful of those who have to get your back. I do it because I agree with you, but it hurts and I don’t benefit from the interaction most times (pay is pretty poor, no health insurance, and rarely a thank you).

    As college instructor, I worry some more. … My students are like my children. And the girls dress waaaay too provocatively in many cases. One comment above said that young girls are innocent and don’t realize how they can use their bodies to manipulate boys. Bull shit! I see them do it and hear them talk about it almost daily. The girls get it, and they use their bodies to get what they want. …. Parents, you need to parent a little more.

    Finally you comment that “many men leer, catcall and make other inappropriate responses towards women they perceive as attractive in order to make them feel uncomfortable or intimidated” is just plain wrong. On many levels. One thing I can tell you without doubt is that most men don’t tolerate aggressive behavior towards women, and we often call out our friends. You’re our sisters, friends, girlfriends, wives, and mothers. And, if you’re not, we wish you were. So most guys are nice guys.

    The one problem I have posts like the one to which I’m replying is that, in addition to raising a valid point, it tends to demonize men as a group. But in reality, we’re no different from women in terms of being demonic. There are a few women who make all women look bad, and there are men that do the same for their gender. But take the rotten apples from the basket, and there’s a whole lot of good for anyone who’s really looking.

  138. Caperton
    November 2, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    The Boy actually worked for quite some time as a bouncer. And of course every bar is different, and every crowd is different, and some things are universal, blah blah blah fishcakes. And even his stories cover a broad range. But I’ll hit a few bullet points.

    a. I’ve been instructed never to start a “my boyfriend can kick your ass” fight. Not that I would anyway, but it’s something he’s experienced in the past and wanted to address directly early on. And if I did such a thing, he’d finish it for me, and then we’d have a stern conversation about it when we got home.

    b. I’ve been instructed that if we’re at a bar together and he’s called in for backup (which has happened, even though he doesn’t work the door anymore), I’m to sit tight exactly where I am and not try to observe. He would rather not be distracted by concerns for my welfare.

    c. He’s less likely to punch a woman. Less likely–his deeply ingrained Southern chivalry means he’s not going to hit her unless she hits him first. He’s far more willing to draw first blood on a man who’s causing trouble. That doesn’t mean it’s off the table.

    d. When he worked the door, his allegiance wasn’t to any particular patron or class or group of patrons but to the bar. He stayed out of things, any kinds of things, unless specifically asked to intervene or unless the pleasant atmosphere of the bar was disturbed. It didn’t matter who started things, who escalated things, who was at fault, or who was wronged–the intervention was for the sake of the bar, to make sure the rest of the patrons continued to have a safe and pleasant evening. It was never really about “protecting” or “defending” or “coming to the aid of” anyone–it was keeping the peace.

    Now, to address your post:

    “If you girls aren’t willing to deal with the jerks, please be mindful of those who have to get your back”? Seriously?

    1. Your job isn’t to “protect women who are treated poorly by men”–it’s to protect your patrons from getting the crap stomped out of them by five bikers, or anyone else. If you’d jump in for a woman being “treated poorly” by a man, but not a guy getting beaten up by bikers or by a female patron, you’re doing it wrong.

    2. You didn’t have to fight the bikers because the woman wasn’t “willing to deal with the jerks”–you had to fight the bikers because they assaulted her in your bar. What was she supposed to do to be “mindful of those who have to get [her] back”? Not tell the guys off and try to ignore the grab-ass, or fight them herself?

    3. Your job isn’t even a matter of “hav[ing] to get her back”–it’s a matter of keeping the peace. Of course I don’t know what kind of bar you bounce at, but hopefully you’d come to the aid of any patron who was getting assaulted by five bikers. I’m not unsympathetic about the challenges of your job, particularly on amateur night, but… it’s your job. They hired you and not the little guy to work the door because sometimes large, drunken objects need to be removed with force.

    To summarize: Don’t take down the bikers because you agree with me on any level or do or don’t approve of what I’m wearing. Do it because it’s your freaking job to keep people from getting assaulted in your bar.

    Neither she nor I said anything that demonizes men as a group. The post only addresses men who might otherwise be inclined to do those things–it didn’t assume that such behavior was common to all men. And she noted that many men leer and catcall, which also doesn’t include the majority of men who aren’t included in “many.” Most guys, in my experience, are nice. But even if most men don’t tolerate that kind of behavior, many still do. And this post is for them. If it’s not about you, it’s not about you.

  139. EG
    November 2, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    random due: If you girls can’t aren’t willing to deal with the jerks, please be mindful of those who have to get your back.

    What does this mean? Trust me, we “girls” have to deal with these jerks every single day (except today, since I’m not feeling well and haven’t been out and i live alone). How, precisely, was this woman supposed to “deal” with the jerks grabbing her ass and assaulting her? Was she wearing a sign saying “Grab my ass”? No? Then guess who’s responsible for the jerks’ behavior? Here’s a hint: not her.

    As college instructor, I worry some more. … My students are like my children. And the girls dress waaaay too provocatively in many cases. One comment above said that young girls are innocent and don’t realize how they can use their bodies to manipulate boys. Bull shit! I see them do it and hear them talk about it almost daily. The girls get it, and they use their bodies to get what they want.

    I’m a college instructor as well. What does “waaaay too provocatively mean”? And what happens to girls who don’t dress like that? Do you know? Or are you just making assumptions about the choices they’re making because you’ve never had to make them? And how does a woman of any age wanting men to find her attractive make her responsible for the ones who think that finding her attractive justifies being an asshole?

    By the way, there’s “understanding,” and then there’s “understanding.” I actually was those girls, once upon a time. And I thought I understood the implications of what I was wearing. Actually, what I understood was that some men would pay attention to me when I dressed like that. That’s a world away from understanding the kind of power dynamics, pressures, and discomfort that dressing that way entails.

  140. ColdSnap
    November 2, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Finally you comment that “many men leer, catcall and make other inappropriate responses towards women they perceive as attractive in order to make them feel uncomfortable or intimidated” is just plain wrong. On many levels.One thing I can tell you without doubt is that most men don’t tolerate aggressive behavior towards women, and we often call out our friends. You’re our sisters, friends, girlfriends, wives, and mothers. And, if you’re not, we wish you were. So most guys are nice guys.

    I am glad that you, personally, don’t tolerate aggressive behavior towards women, and it sounds like your friends don’t either. But this is only your experience, and many women have very different experiences. I didn’t address it in my comment, but I do agree with her. My comment focused on men who make inappropriate comments because they don’t understand that those comments are inappropriate, only because I interpreted from the article that these men were part of the intended audience. I do know also that there are those who know exactly what they are doing and why. I have had a few interactions with such men, and I know women who have had many interactions with them. You are basically saying that I and other women are wrong about what we have experienced. I don’t think you are trying to say that, but it comes out the same way.

  141. Michael Tardibuono
    November 3, 2011 at 1:58 am

    I don’t have an excuse. I look at boobs because I like boobs. Why make things so complicated?

  142. Crys T
    November 8, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Men don’t tolerate agressive behaviour in other men towards women? BULLSHIT! Many, many, many men full-on celebrate aggressive behaviour up to and including physical violence towards women. I strongly suspect that what you really meant was “if a woman acts and looks like a proper submissive acceptably feminine Little Lady, some men won’t tolerate aggression towards her in public.”

    We all know that all a woman needs to do to get that Manly Man protection revoked is
    a) have an opinion — about pretty much anything — that hasn’t had prior male approval
    b) not be suitably “feminine”
    c) not be suitably attractive (but don’t be TOO attractive: that’s “provocative” in and of itself!)
    d) be fat
    e) have any shade of skin that isn’t in the ivory spectrum
    f) have any sort of disability
    g) prefer to get it on with other women
    h) make the mistake of showing more intelligence than pond scum
    i) have big boobs
    j) have small boobs
    k) be guilty of contradicting a man–even if the topic is her own life
    l) show interest in a topic independent of the man/men you are interacting with
    m) wear clothes that are “revealing”
    n) wear clothes that are “too concealing”

    Actually, I could go on with this all day, but I’ve got stuff to do. Let’s just say this: men get to withdraw the “don’t be aggressive towards women”/”don’t ever hit women” rules whenever a woman shows herself as not sufficiently womanly enough to deserve them. And this can (and does) happen whenever any woman, anywhere acts like a sentient being.

  143. Sebastian
    November 25, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    karak:
    Tome,akeybetweenacomplimentandacreeperisacomplimenthassomesenseofrespectinit–formeasaperson,fortheworkIputintomyappearance.

    AgoodcomplimentshouldalsobeonsomethingIcontrol–don’ttalkaboutmybreastsorass(orevenmyeyes).Talkaboutmydress,myshoes,mybag,mynails,becauseIchosethosethingsmuchmorethanIchosemybody.Italsoindicatesyou’reinterestedinME–thegirlinthefierceheelswithasenseofplayfulcolor,notjustthegirlwiththeroundhightits.

    I don’t (completely) agree with this… What if a guy actually likes your body and didn’t even pay attention to your dress? should he say “nice dress”? I don’t feel comfortable lying…I think the key is not what we say, but HOW we say it…
    I think there’s a big difference between a “nice tits babe!” and a warm introduction with an honest compliment and some chat to get to know each other…

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