Dear stranger at the coffee shop,
There I was, standing at the counter, ordering my cinnamon bun latte, when I caught you looking at me. I was all dressed up since I was coming from my field classroom, and you noticed me. The thing that threw me off, however, was how you noticed me. As a woman, I've grown somewhat used to obvious looks and second looks that tell me exactly what the guy has in mind. Sometimes I'm creeped out, and other times I'm simply annoyed. Anyway, I was in this coffee shop a couple of days after all of the Trump comments about grabbing women had come out and everyone was in an uproar about locker room talk and how women are objectified.
That's probably why I noticed the way you looked at me, because in fact, it was barely noticeable. You looked at me from your table where you were reading a book, and waited until I noticed you. Then you smiled, held my gaze until I turned back to my coffee order, and then became engrossed in your book once again. Your look wasn't dirty or dehumanizing; it appeared to be an invitation to get to know me. It was friendly and human. It was not a sweep over my entire body or an attempt to give a smolder. Yes, it was subtle, but that's why it impacted me so much. In a world where some men think that they are entitled to grabbing any attractive women they want to, it's nice to see the other men giving respect to their fellow humans.
It's somewhat sad that such a respectful approach left such an impact on me because that implies that I'm used to being objectified or disrespected. But your look made me appreciate the amount of respectful men I come across daily. I notice the disrespectful men because they make sure they are seen. But I don't notice the respectful men who are respectfully minding their own business because they don't ask to be noticed. Your look caused me to feel a bit better about the world around me after the objectification of women was once again brought into the limelight via Trump. I wouldn't recognize you if I saw you again, and I doubt you'd recognize me, so I'll just tell you now: thank you for your respect, and never underestimate the power your glance has to make a woman feel either respected or dehumanized.
The girl you saw in the coffee shop