WWYD – unwarranted ogling

Letter received from a reader (Edited):

I am a married religious woman who works in a predominantly male environment. The other day a guy came into my office to ask a co-worker a question, and while the co-worker was looking up some info in the computer, the guy looked around, and very blatantly looked me up and down like I was something on display. I was dressed very modestly and did absolutely nothing to attract his attention. When his eyes finally finished their indolent stroll he looked at my face and even though he knew he was caught, he tried to hold my stare. Looked totally non-apologetic. I wanted to stare him down, or obviously ogle various parts of his anatomy, but I didn’t have the guts. Thankfully he got the answers he needed from my co-worker (also female (the only other one in the office), but not stare-worthy apparently) and left.

I was too intimidated to speak out or to get up and leave. What should I have done? What would you have done? How can I make sure it doesn’t happen again? Mama H, please help!!

HSM says: This has definitely happened to me. It never sits right with me, and I never yet have come up with a way to make a surreptitious ogler feel bad for it. I always feel like I need a shower after. Totally skeeved out sometimes. If you have to work more with this guy and this is a repeated pattern of his behaviour, I would bring it up with a supervisor. Good luck!!

Perhaps some of my other readers have other suggestions?

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  1. mrsmelissasg says:

    I just want to say “ditto” to HSM’s response.
    {Actually, I got ogled getting on the bus yesterday and thought, WWHD? ;-)}

  2. shorty says:

    Funny story – i was doing a road ride (bike) and i admit i have a faily nice road bike. I bought it off a friend. anyway, i am riding along, and this guy starts chatting with me on this long hill climb. no biggie. then he starts oggling…MY BIKE! Wow, he says, are those carbon forks?, and the paint job, is that custom?…is there carbon in the frame too? as he kind of slows to check out the rear of thebike…i felt like saying, hey dude! my boobs are up here!

  3. mrsjessica says:

    Sometimes I wonder if it’s because you are dressed modestly – like, wants to challenge you about it, etc. Feels insecure because of it. Rile you up, etc. People sometimes feel judged because of the things that other people wear/do because they feel it reflects on their choices or lifestyle as though they are negative. Your intention has nothing to do with it.

    No idea really. The other thought is that he’s just not used to seeing women dressed that way – generally a more feminine versus sexy way.

    How uncomfortable though! People need to learn manners!

  4. Talia says:

    I hate that… I just don’t get it. Do they not understand it’s rude?!

    I’m kind of a ball buster so I would have looked him dead in the eyes, a bit of squinting (you know the look, when someone isn’t making a lot of sense) and ask him if I could help him with anything.

    I can get a bit aggressive when people are rude… I can handle it but I used to be a bit of a wall flower and I hated the way those people intimidated me so I like to put them in their place. Just so they don’t do that to someone else.

  5. chana says:

    wish i could do what talia does!
    i once asked a man the same question and although i can’t say it’s the right answer all the time maybe it is sometimes. he said to act shy and ignore it, maybe that’s b/c he’s a man and doesn’t see anything wrong with letting him look but making sure he doesn’t follow up? maybe what we do instinctively (looking down, acting shy) is the right thing to do. (shrug)

  6. kisarita says:

    Problem is, you can’t report just a stare. It’s too nebulous to pin down.

    You have to confront him, say “what are you staring at” and maybe he’ll say something improper and incriminate himself.

    But more likely, if he sees you being assertive, he’ll back down. People like him mess with other people they think are timid and insecure. Maybe that’s what your modest dress means to him.

  7. jean says:

    Maybe he was puzzled, but I’m with those who say if you are comfortable with a comment go for it. Act shy or timid? No way — you didn’t do anything wrong. You can even handle it with humor that still gets the point across: “I can’t help but notice you’re staring… is there a problem? Do I have toilet paper stuck to me? The results of the lottery? Is my sex-change operation THAT obvious?” If you use that last one be sure and smile coyly. :D

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