Daniel Leary, a comedy writer, shares his thoughts on what it means to be a man caught looking at a woman six inches below the neck.
Ladies, we need to talk.
Before we get started, I need to make something clear. I am the biggest supporter of women. When people criticize women in power as being difficult, I am the first to say, “If she were a man, no one would bat an eye,” and I’m right. I exclusively seek out women doctors because I believe in my heart that they have had to work harder and show more determination to get where they are. I believe it so much that when my dog was dangerously ill and I had to take him to urgent care, when our veterinarian walked into the room and she was a woman, I burst into tears. Literally. You can ask my boyfriend. He’s still embarrassed about it.
What I mean to say is, I’m an ally. And it’s important to understand that first, because we have a problem.
I am looking at your boobs. Now, I don’t know if you picked up on my subtle clue that I am a homosexual, but I am. When I step on the Kinsey scale, it reads, “One gay at a time, please.”
But I’m looking at your boobs, and you are giving me the WORST looks about it. I’m walking down the street and I walk by a woman and right when I’m thinking, “That paisley is actually working on her,” I look up and I am getting the face. And here’s what the face says: “You think I might actually be interested in YOU? you’ll never be good enough to get with this. Go f*ck yourself.”
You know what face I’m talking about.
Now I was looking at your outfit, but was I also noticing the carefully elegant slopes of your visage? You bet your tits I was. And here’s my defense- I don’t do it to every pair that floats by me. I’m not talking about a tasteful tight-fitting tee. There’s a genre. It’s when you have left a giant window in your wardrobe for a public viewing, and literally everything else you have on is essentially an arrow pointing directly to your cleavage. It’s like someone saying “don’t think of a pink elephant” and you can’t hear what they said because you were too busy looking at their breasts.
Or your shirt has something scrawled across the front. I wasn’t objectifying. I was reading. And it took me a little longer because what’s written there makes absolutely no sense.
And then there’s the face, and I suddenly feel like I’ve been humiliatingly shot down from a request I was definitely not making.
I don’t know what it’s like to be in your shoes – to have a visible part of my body that people might want to ogle, that makes me feel uncomfortable, but I have been dressed as Don Johnson in a supermarket and I think there’s a parallel.
It was April. A friend of mine was having a television-themed party where we were all supposed to dress up, and I was on the way when I realized I had promised to pick up some ice. So I ran into the grocery store, and that’s when I noticed an unusual number of eyes on me. Here I was, asking for attention that I didn’t want from these people. But I didn’t glare at my gawkers, or disdain their glances, because I knew I was dressed for attention and they were warranted. How could I blame them? I didn’t have a pastel pantsuit draped leg to stand on. I was holding a figurative “Look At Me!” sign. So I accepted my situation and got out of there as efficiently as possible.
I know I’m not talking to all of you. And I’m not only talking to women. I’ve been to West Hollywood. Yes, you did catch me looking at your nipple ring underneath your mesh tank top, sir. We’re in a juice bar and it’s noon.
What is my point? I guess it’s that my feelings have been hurt. I feel like I’ve been falsely accused, and even worse, like I was entrapped.
I’m not saying you deserve to have people make you feel uncomfortable, but if you’re dressed for attention, there’s a difference between cat calls and whistles, and a subconscious glance that lasts a little longer than usual.
I’ll try to keep my eyes to myself. You try to delineate between the trenchcoat-wearing perverts and hapless long-glancers. Unless of course, your whole point was to get my attention so that you could reject me in front of your friends or boyfriend or whomever. In which case, you should probably find a better source of ego because bitch, I’m gay.