I don’t know what it is with some men. It’s like they’ve just emerged from the jungles and have never seen a woman before. I used to think it was just the lure of flesh: a show of leg or a revealing neckline. But no. I’ve been covered up from head to toe, and sometimes in the worst monstrosities my wardrobe could spew out (you know, the awful polka-dot blouse and the baggy pants that you keep aside especially for a trip down to the grocer’s?) and yet, I will catch at least one man eyeing me up and down in his own appreciative way. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying I have Adonis-like men falling over me wherever I go, or sending me flowers or bottles of champagne. If only. Tragically, my admirers from afar are usually, well.. for lack of a better word..of the plebian kind. Dirty old men absently scratching away, gawking construction workers and service staff whose line of sight stops right at my bosom level.
Most women I know have developed an impassive façade for situations like these. They go about their activities nonchalantly and have probably even stopped noticing these people leering in the sidelines. I, however, am most terribly affected. When my right to go for a simple walk without feeling sexually harassed is violated, it makes me feel indignant. No, I fear indignant is too mild a word. I feel enraged and provoked. Why must I put up with these vermin of society? So, over the years, I have learnt to become more offensive, ready to admonish any man who dares to steal a glance at me for even a second.
I’ve become quite good at spotting these offenders, and even better at publicly shaming them, catching them quite unawares. Like men in the elevator who try to sneak a peek at you. Many times. The best way to combat this, I’ve found, is to look straight at them, and keep looking till you or they leave. The effect is almost always gratifying. Then there are the kind of men who stare at you in restaurants. I stare back at them too, but if they don’t seem to back down, I ask loudly why he’s staring at me? Is there a problem? Send the waiter over, even. I’ve had hilarious results with this. Never expect them to admit they were in the wrong, They will always deny it. But if they stop looking, or leave shortly after, you know you’ve won the battle. Bear in mind that The Look takes months, and even years of practice. It has to be the right mix of contempt, threat and sheer arrogance (trust me, you don’t want your look to be mistaken for anything other than one of pure and utter scorn). And from time to time, you will come across some a** who returns the look. It’s best to walk away at this point than be dragged down to his level. At other venues, you could point at the guy and laugh with your friends loudly, but clearly condescendingly. Whatever you do, don’t for a minute think that it’s a game. I’ve had girlfriends giggle and ruin the whole exercise. You need hard-core, determined, unfrivolous kind of friends if you plan to attempt these tactics en masse.
I don’t deny that I haven’t become slightly paranoid over the years. In my attempt to rid the world of this scourge, I sometimes do see fault where there is none. But I’d rather be wrong about a few measly men than feel exploited by a hundred others (Come on, no one’s perfect! At least I try). I also know that these moves work well in my part of the world, but will have very little success elsewhere! For example, I certainly wouldn’t attempt The Look on a mob boss. I leave you here with this last word: to each, her own means and methods, but always rely on your own common sense and better judgment!