Yesterday, after working out at the gym, I decided to head to the mall to get a few things. Walking down the pastry aisle, I noticed two men staring at me. To get them to snap out of it, I asked them if I looked familiar.
Shocked by being questioned for their stupidity one of the young men lied, “I think this face is familiar”. Having accomplished my mission of interrupting their viewing session, I mumbled how it was rude to stare and walked away.
A few minutes later, while deciding what nuts would go with my home-made granola bar, I noticed one of the young men stop a few steps from and give me a shakedown with his eyes.
Having a WTF moment, I asked. “Are you following me?”. Angry at me for not appreciating his stares and questioning what he was up to, he mumbled in terrible English something along the lines of -“what do you mean?” and hurled abuses at me under his breath.
Getting ready for a showdown that I knew if a crowd gathered I probably would be accused of overreacting, a store attendant showed up and I explained the situation. The man’s excuse was that he was waiting for someone and wasn’t following me. And besides, I looked at him back. Just as expected, the shop attendant smiled that I shouldn’t overreact and the young man now joined by his fellow ‘starer” left.
The above scenario except for me expressing my dissatisfaction is a common one in Nigeria. To many Nigerian men, staring at women isn’t a big deal. In fact, they think it should be taken as a compliment that a man finds a woman attractive enough to give her minutes of his attention with his eyes. Also, some think women exist for their viewing pleasure-what can we do? Pluck their eyes? This way of thinking is A PROBLEM.
I know you’re probably saying, “Hey! Can’t men appreciate some beauty”? They can. However, there’s a difference between a quick appreciative glance and taking my clothes off with your eyes. The latter is questionable behavior. And society telling women they are overreacting when they complain about stares is society encouraging bad behavior.
While some women appreciate stares from men, I’m not one of them and there are many women who think like me in this regard. For a good part of my adult life, my butt (that’s the most frequently viewed), boobs, every part of my body has been stared at like I’m some sort of ornament set up for display. And it drives me mad. Very mad. Consequently, I find staring not only rude but also a form of harassment.
So, dear men, the next time you see an attractive woman, take a quick glance and move on. Don’t stare like your life depends on it. It makes us uncomfortable, it’s creepy and we hate it.