It was hard not to notice the new barista. He had shocking blue hair, a few piercings dotting his face — nose, eyebrows, chin — colorful tattoo sleeves, and gigantic Maori-like bone earrings dangling from his overly stretched earlobes.
Now, I’m old enough and live close enough to San Francisco where few things shock me, but I couldn’t help but overhear the yummy mummy in line behind me whispering to her young son something about “not staring.”
It reminded me of that time in my life when my “wheels” were on a wheelchair; kids and adults stared, smiled and generally fussed over me because … well, I’m not sure why, exactly. Because I was “different”?
Yummy mummy is right of course — it isn’t polite to stare. But give that boy about 10 more years and he’ll most likely be staring at the developing breasts of his female schoolmates and no one will be telling him to stop, including Mom (and probably not Dad, who might be staring, too).
And it’s a behavior that’s likely to last him throughout his adulthood (although no doubt some woman — like a girlfriend or wife — will eventually, perhaps repeatedly, tell him to stop ogling).
So, let’s get this straight: It’s not OK to stare at the “different” among us — the disfigured, the disabled, the obese (although, they’re more the norm than the oddity nowadays) or the intentionally freakish like Mr. Barista — but it’s OK to stare at women.
I think I remember some Brit study that said guys spend about 43 minutes ogling women — make that about 10 women — a day (a number that obviously does not include porn watching and fantasies), totaling 11 days a year.
This is either an incredible waste of time or not nearly enough, depending on your viewpoint.
But, you have to wonder – are women somehow “different” just because we have breasts (uh, well, some of us!) and curves? (OK, this might be a big “doh.”) Or is it because, well, what do we expect if we wear a tight shirt, a short skirt and some f-me stiletto black boots?
Not to say that I’m not flattered if a man comments on how I look or, yes, gazes at me approvingly. I think most of us are OK with that (including men who appreciate a woman’s glowing glance). And, yes — if the man doing the looking happens to be attractive I’m much more open to it than if he’s not. I know that’s not fair, but I think we all want to be noticed by the people we want to notice us, not every Tom, Dick and Harry.
But, there are times when I really didn’t want to be looked at “that way.” Sometimes staring crosses a line. I’m pretty sure almost every woman has felt the kind of stares that come dangerously close to making us feel threatened, or the kind that say that we were “asking for it,” whatever that “it” is. Being looked at that way never feels good.
How many men — disfigured, disabled, obese or intentionally freakish — can say the same?
- Gals, do you like being stared at by men?
- Do you dress or primp yourself in ways to get stares?
- What about those uncomfortable stares?
- Guys, are you blowing 43 minutes (more or less) a day checking out babes?
- If parents admonish kids that it’s “not polite to stare,” should they also being teaching their sons not to ogle girls?
photo © Maria Iglesias – Fotolia.com