So, to recap:
A couple of women are having a conversation, and the topic turns to tit-ogling. “No one should be staring at my tits in the workplace,” they all agree. “That makes me uncomfortable, creates a hostile work environment, and constitutes sexual harassment! How difficult is it to look at my eyes? Staring and ogling is a threatening display of power enacted in a sexual manner. This isn’t the Mad Men era. Haven’t men figured out how to behave in a professional situation by now?”
A dude at the table next to them has been listening in and feels compelled to pipe up:
“Ladeez, ladeez, ladeez! What’s all this fuss about sexual harassment?
How can we not look at your hawt co-ed behinds when you are jogging?
Men are biologically hardwired to look at the boobies!
It’s part of mating behavior!
It’s nature, baby – you can’t fight it!
Why do you women get boob jobs and dress all hawt if you don’t want us to look?
Men can’t control themselves!
Evolution makes men constantly scan the horizon for lovable boobies!
Why do you hate sex?
It’s not sexual harassment unless he gets physical with her!
Looking at boobs is not sexual harassment!
Dress modestly if you don’t want to be stared at!
It’s your own fault!
Why can’t you ladeez think scientifically about why menz look at teh breasticles? That is the REAL question here!
Because if it isn’t SCIENTIFIC!!!!11!!1!**** it isn’t knowledge – it’s ideological!”
The women sigh heavily. One of them opines:
Looking at breasts? Normal
Being creeped out by having your breast leered at? Normal
Are there a complicated balance of social rules required to navigate this, and is self-restraint required to keep looks from becoming leers? You bet.
However, in a workplace it’s fairly simple. Please look in my eyes. Or at my nose, if you’re East Asian. But not my breasts. If you inadvertantly leer, look at *your* shoes…If we didn’t have such a generally screwed up culture with respect to men and women and power and sex then it would probably never come up.
And then finally another d00d sez:
I’ve disagreed with Zuska before, and largely for me it was an issue of the tone of the post relative to the relative importance, to my perception, of the issue under discussion. But I will admit that I am at times surprised to find how certain notions that are seemingly innocuous and very acceptable, culturally, are, when you break them down to their most essential parts, actually pretty sexist. I didn’t even think of them that way at all, but if one is willing to do the work to look critically, it’s right there.
And the women said, “Hallelujah Amen, brother!”
Yup. I think the comments rapidly altered the subject, and you drifted along because you honestly find the new question interesting. My perception is that the comments swiftly turned the subject from something that makes many readers uncomfortable (systematic harassment of women by a minority of ordinary men) to something that we can all pretty much agree on (“noticing” people we find attractive is normal and OK, no matter your sex and sexual orientation). See how that works? Your mileage may vary of course.
Just then, Lora from HR dropped by and gave the official word on the whole mess.
“Really? We should pretend to ourselves that we are completely sexless creatures while we’re at work?”
On behalf of personnel managers and HR departments everywhere: Yes, yes, please, for the love of FSM, please imagine while you are at work that you are sexless monks and nuns…
Good heavens, if you want to get a good long social look at your co-workers, do it on your own time at the coffee shop or bar or whatever. I ain’t payin’ you to lollygag!
Then that Paul Murray d00d came back and said something long and rambling and, I must confess, I just wasn’t able to keep listening after this:
Do women feel that they are made to feel, or expected to feel, shame and guilt just for being female?
Oh, Paul. Seriously. What planet are you living on? Is this really something you have to ask about? I mean, doesn’t everybody just know this? Paul, Paul, Paul. What are you even doing on this blog??????
This concludes our retrospective of Women and Their Sexy Hawt Bodies. The management wishes to thank all interlocutors because we actually covered some major ground in this conversation. I am absolutely completely serious here. Still to come: When scientists offer up the “biology makes men do it” argument, how are they helping the ultra-right religious wingnuts?
****SCIENTIFIC!!!!11!!1! means “something vaguely about biological hardwiring or evolutionary psychology”. It does NOT mean anything to do with feminist psychology, sociology, or analyses of scientific culture and practice.