re-picturing OGLING

You can look as long as you don’t touch.

What the heck is up with that? Today we’re talking about ogling, leering, gawking.

Have you ever had that creepy feeling that someone’s giving you the once over? You might be out for a jog, talking to your boss, or having drinks with friends. They’re paying attention, but not to what you’re saying or doing. My eyes are up here, dude.

How does this make you feel?

I’m not talking about rare instances when a significant other looks at you longingly or your girlfriend is admiring your shoes. Although women may feel flattered by this objectifying gaze in rare instances, most of the time the gaze makes women feel annoyed, ashamed, angry, and unsafe. It also has negative consequences for women, including decreased cognitive functioning and having feeling like they have less voice (see Melissa Dowler’s post from last week on the Roar Project).

One way to resist the gaze is to look back. Reciprocate it. Returning the gaze is a reminder that we see what you’re doing. We are human. The above picture is a self-portrait of anti-ogling. What do you think?

And, apparently, ogling is not limited to women. My guy friends tell me that there are women who are chronic crotch watchers. I have yet to see it, but this is not the kind of equality we’re looking for.

How have you resisted the objectifying gaze? Successful and not-so-successful stories welcome!

  1. Thanks for another thought-provoking entry! One category of ogling I’d like to add is when people give the once over (or twice over) to try to figure out someone’s gender. As a woman with short hair, I get some really obnoxious stares in the women’s restroom — as if I were actually a guy who somehow failed to notice what bathroom I walked into. So annoying. And kinda scary.

  2. I always look back, straight to the eyes. Great post and great photo!

    • Lauren
    • March 10th, 2011

    Looking back is a great idea. I love the photo you posted because it says “you’re not getting away with this.”

    • Tina
    • March 12th, 2011

    People will always look/ogle/etc. I don’t really see the big deal here (maybe it’s rude in the US, in other cultures it’s perfectly normal) but I think ignoring the person or staring back should do if you’re feeling offended.
    (P.S- I’m an occasional crotch ogler, so I understand why people do it 😛 )

    • Laurel
    • March 12th, 2011

    Great photo and thoughtful article. I have had success “resisting” the stare. Or maybe more appropriate than resisting is “I see what you’re doing and you do it any longer and I’ll come across this room and dismember you”-ing the stare.

    I was a bike racer for many years, and as such ended up in some weird city locations in awesome little lycra skin suits…the attention garnered was not always welcome or appreciated. You have to have the body language to back up your stare.

    Body should be angled away from “starer” and when you glare back turn your head, NOT body. This shows disinterest. Next, when staring back, don’t blink, think like a cat, cats win their stare. Always. And angle your head up so you have to look slightly down your nose at the starer. Don’t look up at them. (Too often thought of as “coy”.) Don’t back down until they look elsewhere, you’re playing chicken here, for dominance!

    Their oogling is inappropriate, take your power back and show them without even a word that YOU run this show and their creepiness is on display for everyone to see. Women spend too much energy being “nice”, bottomline is if you feel creeped out you should DO something about it.

    • Brian
    • March 13th, 2011

    “And, apparently, ogling is not limited to women. My guy friends tell me that there are women who are chronic crotch watchers.”

    It’s true! And it’s amazing… despite my question during your job talk (if you remember this) re: potential gender differences in how objectification is experienced… it is actually pretty uncomfortable! But only in some cases. At other times, I stick to my original suggestion that it can make me happy :-) Actually, on second thought, I’m pretty sure that a “crotch watcher” would make me uncomfortable regardless of the situation.

    Excellent post and picture! This is sort of like the image that pops into my head when I’m talking to women. I know they notice! Not that I’m the kind of person to be disrespectful, but sometimes it’s hard not to appreciate “beauty,” and I have to remind myself of how such looks can be interpreted, and the potential consequences of them. I’m pretty sure that your picture will now haunt me!

    • Tiffany Hogan
    • March 14th, 2011

    Great message and great picture Sarah!

  1. March 14th, 2011
  2. February 22nd, 2012