I'm Allowed to Be Pretty and Still Not Like the Male Gaze
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I'm Allowed to Be Pretty and Still Not Like the Male Gaze

No woman leaves the house and says to herself, "I really hope someone hits on me today."

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I'm Allowed to Be Pretty and Still Not Like the Male Gaze
https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-in-cafeteria-2159065/

No woman leaves the house and says to herself, "I really hope someone hits on me today."

She might be thinking, when embarking on a train from the suburbs to the city, "I hope I have a great conversation with someone today," and then immediately must stop and interject upon herself - "but not a man." Because unless the potential man in question is extremely elderly or with a woman, he's not going to talk to her. The only ones who are going to strike up a conversation are the ones that want something.

I work in a coffee shop. As though customer service isn't enough of a head-banger, I also have to find new and innovative ways to constantly avert my eyes and not validate the strange men who take up seats just to stare at baristas. They don't even pretend to read the paper. Then there are the real casanovas who think they're expert conversationalists - but as I said, even before they say they want something, like your phone number or social media handle, you already knew that they wanted something.

Listen - I see the counter-argument. I get it. The male gaze works in my favor. Right? I probably got my new job because I'm pretty. Right? Imagine you go on a job interview and your physical appearance is commented on with favor and then you get the job. And you really wanted this job. Of course you're going to take it because you need an income and want to stop being a barista in that coffee shop with all of those creeps, but now you're wondering if your half-decade of experienced was overlooked and your face - which will eventually become wrinkled and uncouth one day and is a fleeting thing - got you the job.

I think that the subject of objectification is very complex. In fact, it is much more complex than I can cover in a 500-700 word article like this. But the idea that I can do justice is how unfair the constant need to be on one's guard as a woman in a "progressive world" is. I must prep and coach myself before I go in public without my boyfriend and there's something to be said for the fact that I am only left alone when I am with a six-foot-tall man by my side.

I guess my closing statement is more of a question: why is it that so many men cannot just keep to themselves and be quiet? Every time I see an attractive person - often, as many people are attractive - the thought never pops into my head to reduce that person to their looks and cat-call or single them out so that they feel pressured to validate my noticing them. It strikes me as a kind of selfishness and a lack of compassion for women to prey on the disadvantage that we all carry with our common upbringings of being taught to be quiet and small and to submit to men. Have that conversation, entertain that creep. Be polite.

Personally, I will not stop trying to learn how to convey to men that once I dismiss their gaze the first time, they need to stop. If I have daughters, I will teach them that being pretty isn't a curse and allowing discomfort is not the answer. If I have sons…

It's not very difficult to be intuitive and understand when someone wants to be left alone and that your wants from some girl in a coffee shop aren't the center of the world. That's what I'll teach my sons.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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