Is ogling a crime?

The other night I called the police on my upstairs neighbors, because I was tired of them blasting their music at 1 am. When the cops arrived, we stood in the lobby of my building and I explained the situation. The cop (white male in his 50’s, for context), was asking questions, nodding, being very friendly.

At one point in our conversation, his eyes flashed to my chest, almost imperceptibly. I silently registered the action, and instinctively looked down as well, taking no more than a second to do so. I lifted my eyes back up, right back into his, and the conversation continued as though nothing had happened, except I quickly and casually adjusted my shirt, feeling exposed.

It was like a silent agreement, as though he’d said, “I’m going to check out your rack now,” and I said, “Ok, let’s get it over with so we can get back to the topic.”

This is an every day experience for women, and I hardly notice it anymore. It’s not that we don’t SEE it - every woman knows when a man’s eyes have focused on her chest, even for that one second the guy hopes is unnoticeable. It’s not. It’s like there are motion detectors on a woman’s nipples, and every time a man’s gaze triggers them, a mental alarm screams, “OGLER - 3 o’clock!”

It bothers me that we take it for granted that men will ogle us, but the truth is, I’ve forgiven men for it, because I really believe they just can’t help themselves.

Now before some radical feminists come bashing my door down, I’m not making excuses for assholes. I’m not excusing things like rape, by saying “Oh, the poor guy just couldn’t help himself.” That would be ridiculous. I’m saying that men’s eyes are drawn to boobs like a raver to a glitter factory. It’s science. I don’t feel they are trying to objectify us or belittle us when they ogle us, it’s just their natural reaction.

Can you blame them? We live in a sexually repressed society. Boobies are interesting, because we aren’t exposed to them enough in real life. For fuck’s sake, women are thrown out of establishments for exposing their breasts to feed their children. The law allows a man to walk around with his boy boobs hanging out, but women have to cover up. It’s no wonder men are so fascinated with boobs - they don’t get to see enough of them.

And the truth is, I do the same damn thing. I can’t even say I try to make it subtle. Part of me realizes that as a woman, I can get away with it. Women are more forgiving of each other, probably because we don’t openly hit on each other nearly as much as we should. When a woman checks me out, I think, “Wow, she’s noticeably attracted to me, that’s so hot.” If a guy openly eyeballs me I think, “God, pull yourself together, man.”

I recognize the double standard. Just because women are more forgiving of other women, doesn’t mean men are more perverted.

So really, guys, I feel obligated to forgive you, too.

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