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A lot of socialization, like manners and marriage does seem to try to put a damper on lust, but I do think that sometimes socialization does make us act more lustful than your average Tarzan with nothing but biology to guide him and doing-what-comes-naturally. At least Tarzan would do something besides chase women every now and then. Western men are conditioned to be sexual all the time. It's a bit tiring.



I admit I am a chronic girl-watcher. I'm attracted to lots of women I see in the streets, and I like to check them out. Sometimes I'm careful about it, sometimes I'm very obvious. is it wrong? I do wonder, but it doesn't stop me. I hope it doesn't bother anyone. I like to think girls are flattered when I try to catch their eye in passing, but of course I can't know. What's a guy who likes to look at girls to do?

Eye-catches don’t bother me. I’m sure there has even been a gentleman or two our there who have caught me eye-ing them. You’re right, most of us do it, and it’s okay, and can be flattering. I guess it’s difficult to describe the differentiation between a look and a leer to the opposite sex. Some examples could be: When you catch someone’s eye, and instead of slight embarrassment and looking away, this person just keeps staring, maintaining awkward eye-contact! Or, when it’s directed to certain body parts, in a very obvious way, for a lengthy period of time!



Originally posted by babblerwannabe:

I don’t know, I would think men will leer at women less if women covered up themselves more. This is why it’s such a big deal for women to be topless, females are sexualized in a way that men are not.[/b]

I don't know if I agree with that when you go to nude beaches people look at each other but there doesn't have to be an overt sexual connotation to it. As Michelle said somewhere above it is rude to stare.

I agree with that wholeheartedly at the same time as believing it is human nature to look at others. In the Lower Mainland some women have been actively trying to push the envelope by swimming topless at public pools. They appear to believe that it will reduce ogling in the long run even if it starts out aa a bit of a freak show. I sort of agree with the view that if women did go topless in places like swimming pools that it might be far less sexual in the long run especially in comparison to wearing something like a bikini.

On the street I prefer to smile at both women and men in what I hope is a non threatening friendly way. I would feel uncomfortable ignoring another human being totally but feel good about acknowledging their proximity with a nod and a smile.


Great subject...people looking at people. I think we're talking about very deeply coded instinctual behaviours here, and the glances we trade in passing are just the tip of the iceberg.

The sexual glances a subset of the broader realm.

I think regardless of gender people, being social animals, will tend to look up when entering visual contact range with another person. Certain instinctive judgements occur before one glances elsewhere, or decides to continue the scrutiny. One reads a person for threat potential, curiosity - how many legs do they have - race, age, social status. Its all useful, potentially survival information about whatever tribe or neighbourhood we happen to be travelling among.

To catch or not catch an eye a further step. Sometimes a face will be so interesting or attractive that one will continue to examine it past the point where one might look away and dismiss the potential - that exists in every crossing of paths - for further socializing.

Most of the time one surveys approaching faces for noteworthy criteria but lightly and noncommitally, so as not to give offence, invite too intense a return scrutiny, etc. and looks away without engagement.

The sexual element enters in immediately one recognizes a potential mating partner and I'm sure we're dealing with DNA that reaches back at least to early mammals but probably for as long as there have been eyes. One quickly assesses for biological features - and here cultural conditioning a big factor - that might support the prospect of sexual reproduction.

At this point cultural conditioning should kick in and offer some guidance. We're not taught this stuff in school, but we certainly learn it, its culture not biology, and the mores around it vary from place to place.

At any rate, this is a long way off from the stuff of this thread. On a personal level, besides being an avid people-watcher - I never tire of it - I love looking at women, which obviously has a sexual component; and being looked at by women; I love looking longer at ones I think are attractive, I love the game component that sometimes attend this, the whole ritual is fascinating! Trying to gauge by the length and timing of their attention how interested they are in me, etc. Narcissism!

But out of respect one is discrete and this is a social convention I think most people practice. You can look, and enjoy the looking, but if you stare, or sustain the look or invest it with too much intensity you have transgressed the bounds of proper practice. Ideally the look, if addressed to someone you find attractive, can be handled in such a way as to be a subtle compliment. Ah ha, I find you attractive enough to let my eye linger on you a moment or two past the time it takes to finish reading your appearance!

Then you get these nice games where you find yourself complimented in turn, their glance averting just as you begin your own, then returning as you avert/redirect your own gaze.

Gender differences and conditioning, how often I remark this - yesterday for example, I looked up and saw a girl, perhaps 10 and noted how she glanced down/away as I approached, even at that prepubescent age. What multiple forces at play there, familial, peer group, community....where and when did this child learn to avert her eyes from men? I wore my usual benign, non-sexual, non-threatening look, there was nothing particular or engaging about my expression. And I remarked at the time, hm, how people are conditioned. I was somehow sorry for this child because the natural thing is to look at the approaching stranger, out of human curiosity; but gender roles come into play and already this girl had learned to suppress this natural drive in the interests of community sexual codes.

The coyness of the averted eye, wielded by a sexually mature and available adult, in distinction from the above example, which is to express non-presence, a deliberate wish to not-engage.

How much can be read from this. The woman has/does not have a partner for a start. If she has a partner, then the averted eye is real. Body language reinforces this. If she is curious/looking, then the averted eye may be part of a game of look-at-me. I am looking away now to allow you to look at me without me seeing you looking at me (you may admire me).

the number of times one glances over just as the other is finishing their glance...the sexual game one plays where one pretends to NOT look, only to steal a glance at the last second - only to find them doing exactly the same. Something in the first unfocussed, scanning read registered information that called for a further, closer look....and the game here, of course, is to manage this second look without getting caught, for that would be to frankly acknowledge one's interest and intent, which won't do at all! No, no, not buying today! Or, you're not that cute, I know you've caught me stealing that second glance but I'm still much too cool, and self-possessed to admit it even now!

Passing couples, one is naturally curious - as a male - to look at the woman principally or first, but out of politeness I tend to look at both in turn, almost as if seeking permission; I'll still look at the woman, but more briefly than I might otherwise, as if in passing, and still feel a little rude. Accident/not accident sort of thing. Ahem.

The amount of candour: too much and one comes off as brazen. It is after all, potentially impolite. You're messing with someone's mental space, their attention, if you look too strongly. But the fun when there is a mutual matching, as each party dares/invites the other to show more.

And again, in our culture it is discouraged, impolite. God forbid you should reveal anything in your gaze! 'Guarded' the default position.

Because of course, the shared look is so potent! Inaudible, immaterial, it is still the threshold to remarkable things! It can inaugurate conversation with a total stranger, a sexual relationship, or a physical attack if its object is an unpolished male with issues!

Two days ago I was bicycling past a row of cars slowing for an approaching light. Lost in thought I looked up from my dedicated bike lane and found myself suddenly staring in the face of a notably pretty woman, a passenger in a car who must have been staring out her open window, as abstracted as myself. There was this charming moment of mutual delight as we both recognized the accidental nature of our eyes bumping into each other's faces at just the same moment; we beamed broadly at each other as I passed by, sharing this joke.

[ 29 June 2007: Message edited by: Merowe ]


[ 29 June 2007: Message edited by: Merowe ]


Men and women are so different. We go through this eternal push/pull dance that is, I believe, our basic human animal biological mating ritual. Males constantly trying to attract, women constantly discriminating. Of course as humans there are socially acceptable behaviors but I think our basic animalistic mating desires are what drives these behaviors, like the "honk".

Personally, as a male, I would love to be objectified once in a while. I spent fourteen damn dollars on a goddamn stick of Axe deodorant and it's not working. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

Anyway this is for jrose:

And this is what we men really want:

Polly B Polly B's picture

Maritime - Sea. Duh! (No, directed at me, not you.) I just figured out your name, after a year of trying to pronounce it marittimessea or some bloody thing.

Sometimes things just fly over my head.



Originally posted by Maritimesea:
[b]Personally, as a male, I would love to be objectified once in a while. I spent fourteen damn dollars on a goddamn stick of Axe deodorant and it's not working. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img] [/b]

You could try shaving your head and tanning. Go to the gymn and get a body. Some women like that. Or try dying your hair Nordic blonde, tan lotion, and undo your shirt to expose chest hair. Of course, you'll be trying to attract women with fetishes for those things, so if you're looking for a bookworm, then shift the venue slightly. Go about your daily routine as if you couldn't care less, and you'll be hit on left, right and centre. Women will go out of their way to bump into you. What is luuuuv ? [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]


Well, I just had an experience along these lines just a few hours ago, in the Tim Horton's in Arthur, Ontario.

While Rebecca West and I were waiting for our sandwiches to be made, I happened to glance around the room, and noticed an 18sh year old woman looking at me. I figured she was thinking, "who's the old dork?" so I looked away, talked to Rebecca about the Deliverance-esque customer in the drive through, and I happened to look back in the direction of the young woman, and she was looking at me again.

I think she was checking me out. Honestly. I think we all know the look. At least, that's how it seemed to me. It kinda wierded me out. Flattering? Hmm. No. As icky as it is for guys my age to oggle young women, it is icky the other way too.


After reading this, it strikes me that it is quite possible that she was thinking, "who's the old dork?", and then started thinking, "who's the creepy old dork who keeps checking me out?"

Maybe both of us thought that the other was leering, all the while unable to look away for long because we thought each other strange and creepy?

Young men who cat call and leer are, in my estimation, cowardly. I say this because none do it when they know an older guy like me is aware of it. Somehow, our mere presence seems to keep them in line.

At least, that's my experience. And that more than hints at a very dark psychology behind the lears.


Alright, now here's a story. It's inappropriate for this thread, and I should more appropriately title one "When A Leer Becomes Beer Bottles Cracked Over Your Friends Head," but this thread was one of the first things I thought of when I was being questioned by the cops. So, here goes.

I'm in Ottawa right now, for some Canada Day festivities/Re-united with some old friends that I haven't seen in a few months. Canada Day was a quiet BBQ with friends that ended just after supper time. So, instead of heading downtown for the way-too-busy, predictable celebration, we walked to the end of my friend's street, who I am staying with for a few days, to visit a pub, have a few pints, and started our walk home around 2 a.m. An early night for Canada Day!

It was myself, and my three male buddies, tying into the comments up higher about how females and males need to be friends more often. Three young kids, 18-20ish, were walking on the other side of the street, glaring at us, me in particular, and started making lewd, crude, disgusting comments about me. My friends, being the kind of guys they are, wouldn't laugh it off, seeing it as a personal attack, and my one buddy stopped, and just glared at the kids. Nothing too threatening, just enough to say that they had crossed a line, and it wouldn't be tolerated. Two seconds later beer bottles were flying through the air at my friends, three-on-three, while I basically stood there trying my best not to get involved.

Beer bottles became home-made weapons, that these kids had in their pockets. Clearly already looking for a fight. Socks, filled with coins. This turned into their belt buckles in this absolute complete random act of violence. My friends kept shouting "you've won! We're going home," but this only aggrivated the attackers worse. At this point kids came running from all the other apartment buildings around us. For me, I was thinking, finally, someone is here to help, and break it up! Little did I know that it was just more buddies of these guys, bringing the fight to three against at least seven or eight. Relentless beating.

Finally, a lady got out of her car, and put herself int he middle. She called the cops, and the kids scattered across the neighbourhood. So, long story, short (well, I tried to keep it short!) we spend the last half hour of our evening with the cops, recounting this brutal, random act of violence. Nobody laid a hand on me, except for one shove, but I have a friend with a tooth chiped half-way through, and all three of them are black and blue.

I know, not the right thread, but like I said above, I immediately thought of this one, given how this violence began. It's amazing, four and a half years in Ottawa and I never once thought twice about roaming the streets at ridiculous hours of the night. But trust me, from now on I'll think long and hard about it!


Actually, I think this IS a good thread for that story. That's absolutely incredible - and scary! I'm so sorry that happened to you and your friends.

The reason I think this is a good post to this thread is because next time some guy leers at you or makes rude comments about you, it will intimidate you a lot more after this, won't it?

THAT is the problem with this kind of sexist behaviour. Any woman who has experienced any kind of violence or threat of violence will be intimidated by it. And considering that I doubt there are any men who actually think they're going to get a date by saying, "Hey baby, nice ass!" or something similar, then clearly there is another motive behind such a statement.

I think that motive is intimidation and control.


Most definitely, I think you're right. Which, I'm sure is why I thought of this thread almost immediately afterwards. I'll never think of a leer, or a sexist comment the same way again, that's for sure.

remind remind's picture

Wow, on the story jrose, interesting that a woman jumped into the middle and stopped it, eh?! Good on her, and I have done the same myself, in a eerily similar circumstance, but it still makes you realize the implied violence in a leer and smarmy comments to women on the street. In fact, any sexist comment has that implied violence factor in it.


Yea, she saved us that night, without a doubt. I wish I could have done more. I was just frozen. It's not every day you see three of your best friends on the ground, being beaten. But, this woman got right in the middle, and tried to put an end to it, which she ultimately did. Seems to me, that these kids had NO sense in them whatsoever, except when it came to not hitting women.


Wow. That’s awful. I think reading this kind of story and being made aware of the violence in this society is already pretty intimidating, I can’t believe you have to go through that, how horrible.

writer writer's picture

jrose, I'm so sorry this happened. I hope you're not being hard on yourself for freezing.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

That is just so terrible, jrose. I'm so sorry this happened to you and your friends.


Thanks everyone! Sorry about the delay in response, I'm still without the internet in Ottawa, just checking in on my mail etc. at Carleton.

The friend's wounds are healing just fine. Thanks for the concern!

Agent 204 Agent 204's picture

That is indeed awful, jrose. [img]frown.gif" border="0[/img]

With regards to catcalls in particular, I think those who wonder "can that really work?" are missing the point. I think that when a bunch of guys start whistling and catcalling at a woman, they're displaying [i]for each other[/i], not for the woman- they're trying to prove their manhood, and the woman is just the occasion for it. That may have been the case with the kids who attacked your friends, too.



Originally posted by Agent 204:
[b]...I think that when a bunch of guys start whistling and catcalling at a woman, they're displaying [i]for each other[/i], not for the woman- they're trying to prove their manhood, and the woman is just the occasion for it. That may have been the case with the kids who attacked your friends, too.[/b]

keen observation Agent 204. jrose, this has been on my mind since you posted it and i must say each time i read it i feel ill. don't for a second be hard on yourself for "freezing" in this senselessly violent situation. really, you did nothing wrong. relating to Agent's observation, clearly you were not the target, but a convienient catalyst for these idiots who were out looking for a fight. they were too cowardly to pick one directly with your male friends, and when your friends reacted quite naturally to the verbal assault on you, that was all the excuse needed to attack. pure cowardice, plain and simple. i had many flashbacks as i was reading this to growing up in Kamloops and Winnipeg. lots of drive-by toughguys using the women i was walking with to provoke a fight with me and/or the other males with them. I would always cringe and look for some sort of defensive object immediately. the absolute predictable result of any reaction is more verbal, then if they are really out cruising, physical assault. there is nothing you or your friends could likely have done to prevent what happened, sadly. If you had reacted, as was pointed out, these fools were obviously conditioned not to hit women ( they left you alone, and another woman, older in particular, was able to break it up), they would have attacked your male friends. your pals reacted and the result was the same. i grew up living in mortal fear of assholes like that. my instant reaction now as a result of that fear is to confront and shut down any and all violence when i see it. this does not need to be done physically now we have cell phones, but in one surprising incident when i called the police on two kids breaking into a car, they pointed me out to an older buddy of thiers who walked right up and physically threatened me while i was talking to the police!

i guess the real nub of this is that regardless of what any of you could or would have done, these kids used the catcalling to initiate an attack. total macho crap. i am at a loss though as to what to do to prevent it. we are bombarded daily by violence as entertainment and as a solution to our problems. that eventually results in conditioning some in society to emulate what they are fed. the only thing really is to have zero tolerance for violence in person and act on it. question: were the kids that did this caught?

i hesitated commenting on the "girl-watching" topic of this thread until i read that account of jrose's experience. I am, by my own description, a "rubbernecker". and yes, it has caused me trouble, but primarily from walking into a pole (once), running into the back of my friend and then having to explain why we bumped the couple ahead of us, and recently, catching my bike on a pole (i was walking). all quite embarassing, but funny to all concerned at the time. i think that there is a huge difference between people of either sexes discretely checking each other out, and derogatory cat calling/wolf whislting/demeaning behaviour or comments. i do think the first, as it has been mentioned above can be quite harmless, and if non-threatening, sometimes enjoyed by the other party. the line is absolutely drawn though by the person on the recieving end. if they don't like it, then it's not cool. period. the proper thing to do is to appologise if you are caught/confronted in that situation. or you could be like me and walk into a pole and get a laugh at your own expense.

[ 06 July 2007: Message edited by: farnival ]


Shameless has a take on cat calls and worse on the blog:

[url=http://www.shamelessmag.com/blog/2008/04/adventures-in-street-harassment... In Street Harassment [/url]

And from their archives:

[url=http://shamelessmag.com/blog/2007/08/if-you-didnt-want-to-be-stared-at-y...“if you didn’t want to be stared at you shouldn’t go outside”* [/url]


Summer is well upon us, and as a result I’ve been (as per usual) a victim of some leering and catcalling regardless of whether I’m wearing a minidress or a burlap sack. As soon as the clothes come off to beat the heat, it seems some people think they got their permission slip to yell and ogle as much as they like. I talk a mean game, but to be honest there’s times when the discomfort of someone’s comments causes me to feel vulnerable, mute and well, afraid. Case in point: after I ignored one guy’s invitation to come over and have a beer with him and his friends, he proceeded to call me an “ugly bitch.” Street harrassment may sometimes feel like a fact of life, but looks like there’s some people unwilling to accept it and willing to do something about it.

Accidental Altruist

ugh. I've read this whole thread plus the recent links - I can feel my chest tightening up.

My neighbourhood gets cruised by alot of *johns* who think any female on the street is a sex worker. Doesn't matter if I'm carrying several bags of groceries or riding my bike - they think I'm for sale. It's intimidating when a car slows down and circles back. My body starts preparing for a confrontation. The adrenaline makes me a bit dizzy and I just want to duck for cover.

Once I was even followed into my apartment building after I bade farewell to the last of my Thanksgiving guests. Luckily those guests were still within sight of me and came back to my aid in a BIG hurry.

I do get oogled by 'non-johns' as well. The last guy who wouldn't take no for an answer didn't care that I am married OR from out of town! Luckily I was with a friend who could just drive me out of the area.

I've been followed home. I've been fondled and groped. I've even been raped twice. To me it's all the same crap. I am seen as less of a person because of my sex.


When I lived in south Parkdale, I was solicited by would-be johns 100% of the time when I went out without my daughter or my husband. That's every single time I ventured out of doors by myself.

And then there are the pimps who would walk along side of me, trying to coax me into working for them while I ignored them.

(There were some funny times, like the guys who actually asked if my friends and I were lesbians, and we said we were, and they ran away looking horrified. And the guy who pulled his van over, starting to say, "Hey, baby!" and his van stalled because it was minus 30C. I don't know how he could tell I was female from all the layers I had on.)

And then there are all those guys who lose their minds when the winter clothes come off.

Basically, young pretty girls are prey. I know that women of all ages get attacked, but in my reality, now that I'm on the other side of 40, I actually feel safer. The younger guys tend to be more dangerous, and they are ignoring me more now, screaming at the young girls, while I get quietly ogled by 60 year olds carrying Starbucks coffee cups.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I must live a sheltered life. I can only recall a handful of times where anyone has made a catcall or harrassed me, and they were never that hard to dissuade. Now that I'm over forty, it's even less frequent.


I happened across this while looking at the CNN site. Okay, so the title and "story highlights" are really [img]rolleyes.gif" border="0[/img] but the text isn't so bad.

[url=http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/personal/05/14/lw.catcalls/index.html]Cat... - creepy or a compliment?[/url]



As part of her research, Kearl conducted an anonymous, informal e-mail survey of 225 women on the subject. She found that 98 percent of respondents experienced some form of street harassment at least a few times, while about 30 percent reported being harassed on a regular basis.

"For me, anyone who interrupts my personal space to objectify me or make me feel uncomfortable or threatened is harassing me," she says.

Women take both sides

As the weather warms each spring, women -- especially in cities with active sidewalk traffic -- once again face catcalls from men. It's a situation some find unnerving and an invasion of their space, while others ignore or are even flattered by.

"I call it street abuse," says New York City filmmaker Maggie Hadleigh-West, 49. "It's unwanted attention and invasion of space."

In her 1998 documentary "War Zone," Hadleigh-West confronted catcallers and filmed their responses. Many of the men literally ran away to avoid talking to her about why they whistled or made a provocative comment. The Department of Defense has used the film since 2002 to train branches of the military about issues surrounding sexual harassment and sexism in general, she says.

"Being in a public space with a strange man who is being sexually aggressive is potentially dangerous," Hadleigh-West adds.

On the other hand, some women appreciate the attention in certain cases, like Jessica, a 31-year-old health-care educator in Los Angeles, who declined to use her last name to protect her privacy. "Yeah, it's objectifying and all, but you know, if I walked down the street and didn't have men looking me up and down and catcalling, I'd think, 'Boy I must really be getting old and dumpy'," she says.

It is an interesting article, though I find it difficult to relate to the young women who are flattered by cat calls. I’m flattered when a nice guy comes and offers to buy me a coffee, or smiles at me on the street (boyfriend or not, I’m allowed to be flattered!), but laying on the horn or grabbing at me as I walk by isn’t flattering. Either is calling me a “bitch” when I don’t stop to chat or if I reply with a snarky comment or an eye roll, or even the finger if I’m feeling a little sassy. Last time I checked, my body wasn’t public property.

[ 14 May 2008: Message edited by: jrose ]

remind remind's picture


Originally posted by Sineed:
[b]Basically, young pretty girls are prey. [/b]

This is a good way to illuminate patriarchy, as many many men, look at women and girls as prey to be hunted.


[b]I actually feel safer. The younger guys tend to be more dangerous, and they are ignoring me more now, screaming at the young girls, while I get quietly ogled by 60 year olds carrying Starbucks coffee cups.[/b]

I do not know about safer, and younger guys being more dangerous. When i was on the other side of 40 I do not remember men stepping into my personal space to smell/sniff me and believing they had a right to do so, but it has happened to me several times in the last year by middle aged men. To the point I want to go out dressed slovenly and reeking of body odor.

If they are not sniffing you, they watch you like a hawk and look for a reason to approach . Most recently for me was yesterday morning on the ferry to Vancouver. In a sense, I was flattered, but for the most part it was uncomfortable and I wanted him to just stop staring and I definitely did not want an approach from him. It is creepy.



In her 1998 documentary "War Zone," Hadleigh-West confronted catcallers and filmed their responses. Many of the men literally ran away to avoid talking to her about why they whistled or made a provocative comment.

She won't have been the only one who's noticed that straight men have trouble taking their own medicine. [img]tongue.gif" border="0[/img]


Feministing.com has a new feature called the Feministing Community, which allows readers to post their own stories on the website to be read alongside the regular contributors to the blog. This one, entitled [url=http://community.feministing.com/2008/08/no_they_really_do_say_things_l...., They Really Do Say Things Like That[/url] really caught my attention during my morning blogroll. It's worth a read from start to finish, but here's just a snippet.


I was explaining how oftentimes, the catcalling from men and boys in passing cars, however harmless in intent, can be mind-numbingly objectifying, down right insulting, or even terrifyingly threatening and intimidating.

As the male product of an upper-middle class family, my boyfriend has never felt the fear that often accompanies being a woman of any class in this society. Like most men, he has never been encouraged to carry his keys in his hand or pepper spray in his pockets to fend off possible assailants. He has never been told that it is necessary to immediately lock the car doors as soon as he gets inside his vehicle. He has never felt embarrassed, humiliated, self-conscious, frustrated, or angry at comments made about his physical anatomy by men whom he has never met before. He has never felt the urge to frantically glance around for other people when a man comes a little too close. He has never felt the need to quickly duck in to a near by store to escape the threatening leer of a man who has been following him for several blocks. I have. Women have.

I was trying to accurately explain what is to be a woman, alone and in public. He was not understanding. Drawing from personal experience, I told him about the things that were yelled from passing cars while jogging on isolated rural roads as a young teenage girl. I told him about the things that were murmured to me from those same cars when they slowed down to my pace, on isolated rural roads. My boyfriend laughed. I cried and wished I were anywhere but where I was, having any conversation but the one that I was. Dinner was eaten in silence.

While we ate in an awkward quiet which made our waitress uncomfortable, I thought about my experiences as woman alone in public. I thought about the time I was running barely a block from my apartment, located in a 'good' area, and had change thrown at me, accompanied by yells of , "Is that enough? Can I get some head?!" I thought about how angry and embarrassed I was. How I questioned myself. Do I look slutty? Should I have worn looser pants? I thought about all of the times that I have been rubbed up against and grabbed in public, on sidewalks, in airports, at work. I thought about the disgusting comments that have been made to me by complete strangers. I thought about the fear that I instinctively feel every single time that I must cross a dark parking lot alone, keys clenched tightly while checking the back seat of my car. It is so unfair and so heartbreaking that women, every God forsaken day, must live in exactly the same way.



Originally posted by oldgoat:
[b]I completely agree that more men should have women who are just friends. I wonder what prevents that.[/b]

Sex. [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

martin dufresne

More exactly, the role played by the perspective of sex in male gender identity. Seinfeld points out that the drive-by honker isn't likely to get sex, but obscures the salient point that this is not what he's after. What he's after is enforcing his masculine entitlement over women as sex objects. French anthropologist Nicole-Claude Mathieu calls this "l'arraisonnement des femmes" in a 1985 book by that name.
I think the same applies to a common male attitude toward women they could be friends with: we remain "on the make", with sex as the spin we try to put on the interaction, even in the face of her disinterest or our unavailability. And sorry, but the "sometimes it works" is a pitiful copout; what it mostly does is destroy the possibility of friendship. (But maybe men don't want that with women.)
This prowling attitude certainly separates us from our exes. Another French feminist, Colette Guillaumin, makes the point in "Racism, Sexism, Power, and Ideology" (1995) that whenever she meets a male ex-lover, he makes a friendly exchange impossible by focussing the exchange on an attempt to get back into her pants.
I have done that and I think it speaks to a feeling of entitlement, men's conceit of owning a woman through sex.

[ 22 August 2008: Message edited by: martin dufresne ]



To me it's all the same crap. I am seen as less of a person because of my sex.

I agree and boy did this make me sad. It's hard to get men to understand just how much we, as females, are trained not to see ourselves, but to see ourselves through the eyes of men. I think in that sense, we lose touch with who we are, who we can be, and who we want to be.

I've been on subways and had guys masturbate in front of me. I've been touched, fondled and groped since I was a small child. Even back then I grew to think of my body as something not belonging to me at all but more like this thing I had to show off for the sake of men. After so much harassment, you really begin to feel that your living self is no longer your own, but belongs to the public domain.

And I am awfully tired of the police, and other agencies who say that we, as women, must watch where we go at night, who we are with, watch our drinks like hawks, watch what we wear, watch over our shoulders. Why not tell men to stop their behaviours? Why are women always the ones who end up with the onus of doing something and why are men given a free pass, as if sex assaults and unwanted sexual harassment is something isolated. We all know it isn't isolated, but a long ingrained theory that our bodies belong to men. It is men who need to change. Not us.



And I am awfully tired of the police, and other agencies who say that we, as women, must watch where we go at night, who we are with, watch our drinks like hawks, watch what we wear, watch over our shoulders. Why not tell men to stop their behaviours? Why are women always the ones who end up with the onus of doing something and why are men given a free pass, as if sex assaults and unwanted sexual harassment is something isolated. We all know it isn't isolated, but a long ingrained theory that our bodies belong to men. It is men who need to change. Not us.

What Stargazer said!

Maysie Maysie's picture

I heartily agree with the previous posts, and wanted to add that the notion of "stranger danger" is one of the issues most easily accessible to the mainstream, in convincing them that violence against women, including this type of "public space" harassment, is real and not made up by over-sensitive women. Making public space safe for all women is very important.

That said, we all know that the most likely attacker and harasser a woman will face is someone known to her. I know that most people posting currently already know this. But I think it helps to remember that, as horrific as street harassment is, and I've suffered from far less of it than most women, it's by far not the worst a woman can experience in terms of verbal harassment. There's patriarchy for you.

And to Kayla from Feministing: dump that fucking idiot as soon as possible.


Well, I blame having this thread on my mind, but I just lost my cool and gave a group of guys the finger (a horrible gesture that I normally wouldn't give anyone the satisfaction of giving) while I was walking down a busy street on my way home from work. Who knew high heels and a dress were an invitation? [img]mad.gif" border="0[/img]

martin dufresne

When in Romula... [img]cool.gif" border="0[/img]