A Simple Guide for Looking at Women on the Street: Glancing Vs. Staring

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About Mark Greene

GMP Senior Editor Mark Greene is an Emmy Award winning animator and designer. He blogs and speaks on Men's Issues at the intersection of society, politics, relationships and parenting for the Good Men Project, HLN, Talking Cranes, The Shriver Report, The Huffington Post, Mamamia and Role Reboot. You can follow him on Twitter @megaSAHD and Google.
Click here to read more GMP articles by Mark Greene. Get Mark's fully illustrated children's book FLATMUNDER for iPad from iTunes about kid's fears and the power of play. For kids ages 4-8.

Comments

  1. Priscilla M Koop says:

    I appreciated the thoughtful tone of this column. It showed remarkable insight into the vulnerabilities experienced by women in North American societies. I also found the comments interesting. For me, the bottom line is that non-verbal communication is a huge component of our interactions and that non-verbal communication can be interpreted in many ways. A smile may mean “I like your comment and it makes me feel good”, but it can also mean “If I smile at you, maybe you won’t get upset at me and won’t hurt me”. It can signal appreciation or appeasement – and likely many other responses. Knowing that non-verbal behaviour can be interpreted in multiple ways can help all of us – both men and women – to treat each other with respect and appreciation!

  2. Hi Mark Green

    Thank you for your patience and deep understanding of women.
    I think you know what is going on here……

  3. Does anyone find it creepy to look at others whom do not know you are looking, to study their body language to better teach yourself how humans interact?

  4. The thing I’ve learned about looking at women is that when I reject my sexuality when looking at them, they get creeped out.

    But when I own it fully and appreciate a woman in her fullness from a deeply rooted place, including heart and balls in my attention, women open up like flowers to the morning sun.

    If a man has a lot of experience with women being uncomfortable with his attention, my experience suggests it is a sign he’s not fully owning his sexual attraction to the opposite sex. It’s an awkward place to be culturally when many men have been shamed to think their sexuality is dirty, turning them into men who women get creeped out by.

    It’s a strange paradox that women feel less sexually objectified the more we as men own our sexual attraction.

    Are you comfortable with being sexually attracted to women, Mark? Quite often, I’m not – shaming messages still run inside of me at times – and then I too am cautious with my attention. But when I’m free of that, the world looks nothing like the one you inhabit. The difference, normally, is in feeling tapped into my power and a sense abundance (e.g. I don’t need you, but I sure would enjoy you)

    • :)

    • Barnicals says:

      I think you hit the nail on the head there. Depending on a variety of things, it can be absolutely fine to GAZE at a woman. Stare has such an obviously negative connotation, it’s hard not to conjure the mental image of some drooling predator.
      I personally feel that if I’m in a good mood, feeling attractive, smiling, and happen to be looking at a woman, attractive or not, I’ll normally get a positive reaction. It doesn’t need to be an advance. It doesn’t need to be ogling. The fact that this isn’t normally well received really speaks volumes about the societies that it happens in. Some societies I don’t get positive reactions in include Italy, NZ, England, France, and maybe Germany. Nations I get more positive responses from: Bulgaria, Turkey, The Netherlands, USA (in my experience), and Portugal. Interesting when it’s looked at side by side like that, based on a very cursory knowledge of the cultures.

  5. Sherlock says:
  6. Little late to the party here but I only just came across GMP (long overdue) and this article. Mark I wanted to thank you not only for its content but the painstakingly careful way it is phrased. This is what I think I have been hoping to read from a male author for a long time and I just wish more men echoed these sentiments.
    As your average 24 y/o girl with decent dress-sense and quite long hair (the hair’s the giveaway!) I seem to get looked at in the street almost constantly and it really does feel incredibly predatory. Sometimes it’s a harmless glance, sometimes a lingerer or double-take, but quite often it’s accompanied by a verbal appraisal of my ‘assets’ or an attempt to engage in unwanted conversation or otherwise (“why thank you mister van driver, I was totally unaware up until this point that I’m considered ‘orrright’. Yes, please do take me, here and now, in the cab of your truck.” thought no woman ever). Then when you ignore/stare ahead/walk faster/pretend to look at phone, the comments become derogatory (“right so I’m a ‘slut’ for not taking you up on that dusgusting offer?).
    To all the men who think it’s just harmless fun or that freaking a woman out, especially a stranger in the street is a ‘woman’s cross to bear’, you try being the physically-less-overpowering-should-it-come-to-that one in the scenario, who is often also alone and outnumbered and see how it feels. Not that all men would turn agressive, I have enough decent guy pals to know most of you deserve the benefit of the doubt, but what I’m saying is that for many women that possibility is always in the back of your mind. Call it survival instinct.
    Men you can glance and even play a little game of ‘glance ping-pong’ if you really need to be sure she looked back if she does like you and go from there. Any more than that, when you’re not absolutely sure it’s reciprocated, is intrusive and can feel incredibly threatening. Mark, thanks for putting this so eliquently from the male perspective.

    • Barnicals says:

      As a guy… yeah… sorry. Some of us are assholes. Just out of interest, because I like to strike up conversations with people and make eye contact/say hello to people I pass on the street (who, shockingly, are often pretty girls), how do you feel about a guy just saying hello while smiling as he walks past? Does that intimidate you at all?

  7. *eloquently (ahh phone typing)

  8. Personally, I like the idea of men becoming “Herbivores” like the phenomenon which is currently giving Japan grief. Herbivores are men who, while they aren’t uninterested in sex or romantic relationships, simply express indifference to the idea. They don’t approach women, or try to stay masculine or “man up” to impress them. They just decided to stay out of that minefield altogether. They don’t do anything to actively seek out sex, but rather develop themselves and remain independent, and if the women want relationships, they have to be the ones to say something, compliment, flirt, approach, whatever.

    You would think there would be a reversal: women trying to approach men. Instead, there is a staggering spike in single women and depression in said women, and the Japanese government declared a state of emergency and has to provide incentives for people to have kids due to the massive decline in birth rates.

    But honestly, it’s the most surefire way for women to feel safe, men to be independent of situations that make us feel like walking-abominations, and to solve overpopulation. Not to mention, it solves a lot of double-standards. Now guys can wear makeup and make themselves pretty if they wish. Or heck, just be themselves: quirks, emotions, being frugal, liking pink OR blue, whatever. If girls or society don’t like it, it’s not like they were out to impress them, anyway. Though last I checked, the Japanese free market is having a ball with this new demographic.

  9. Barry Blust says:

    If you are receiving such negative energy it is because you are sending out negative energy. Might be you are being so ‘careful’ you are creating tension. People read energy all the time. I gaze at women a lot… follow them with a smile and energy that says ‘you are lovely’ and what I receive is a smile and often a smile with a nod. A man used to tip his hat in appreciation.

    Anyone else think this article is about women who need to find peace and one man who has problems?

    • Anonymous says:

      This advice is at odds with material on on the subject of body language that I read that states a man should not be the first to break eye contact wih a woman whom he finds attractive, this conveys submissiveness, which most women do not find attractive.

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