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To Those Men Who Can’t Help But Stare: Dear Man, Am I A Species That Rare?

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By Sumedha Bharpilania:

I walk by and your eyes rip my soul apart. They scrutinize every aspect of mine and they devour me the way a carnivore feeds on its prey. I sit and they continue to be fixed upon me and the only thing I want is to bury my face somewhere and never resurface. I feel exposed, like being forced to be bare in the freezing cold. You leave no stone unturned to make me feel conscious about myself and that angers me. When I make an effort to raise my voice, it is drowned in the sea of a million voices that in turn emerge to support you. I understand dear man, I do. I was unfortunate enough to be born without a phallus, so I totally deserve what I happen to be getting. I shall therefore not fight, I shall not complain, I shall only wait for myself to turn into a total scopophobic. I am a woman after all.

But man, I do have a few questions that I would be obliged to get an answer to:

Was it something I wore? You always blame it on my clothes, don’t you? But then the last time I saw you looking at me, I vividly remember wearing a pullover that covered every bit of my body, including most of my wrists. I did not expose any of my pale skin, so what was it that your eyes found so attractive? And then, you looked at me again, that one time when I was wearing an oversized t-shirt which once belonged to my brother. It flaunted none of my curves, not a single one, but you stared. Was it the colour or the sight of the fabric that was turning you on? Or was it the Superman logo on the same that caused you to get aroused? I could gift you a whole range of Superman merchandise if you love that guy to this extent. Just let me know, I would be more than happy. That woman in the Burqa you were leering at: were you giving her that look because you desperately wanted that piece of clothing for yourself? We could all send you several Burqa’s in an array of colours, you only need to ask.

You say it is my body-language that compels you to look at me, that drives you to direct all of your attention towards me. My mannerisms make you perceive me as someone who would not really mind a few eyes X-raying her assets. You say I asked for it. But man, on that bright Sunday morning, I was sitting on a bench in the park and reading Pablo Neruda when I caught you staring at me. Does the fact that I was reading make my body all the more sexually attractive to you? Did my body speak to you in the first place? Did it shout ‘‘I wish I could hold you instead of this book’‘? I am sorry man; I was not enlightened of the same. I shall however keep this in mind from now onward, I promise.

I happened to be in the metro the other day and felt brave enough to, or should I say ignorant enough to enter the general compartment. I was standing there with my hands around a pole to prevent myself from falling into your arms, which I knew not were anticipating to touch me. I wanted to save you the trouble and embarrassment of having to hold an unknown woman in a moving vehicle, but what I did not realize, was the fact that you wanted it so badly. So when you could not have it, your flaming eyes torched me and such was the enormity of your rage that I had to get off at the very next station and get into the women’s compartment of a different metro because I could not stand the heat that you exuded.

I also cannot force myself to forget that one time when I was walking back from college, oblivious to your lurking presence. I was blissfully humming to a Pink Floyd number as the lyrics made me feel like a rebel, when out of nowhere, you showed up right in front of me and began to pleasure yourself. The rebellion that I was planning inside my head vanished suddenly and my feet were involuntarily fixed to the spot. My being had turned into an amalgamation of several emotions: I was appalled, I was disgusted and I was frightened. Yes I was afraid of you from that very moment. But you desired that, didn’t you? I mustered enough courage to run as far as I could from you, but that did not bother you. You now had my picture, a helpless caricature of mine, inside your head and I could not take that away from you. I still cannot.

But tell me man, how would you feel if I stared at you instead? If I fixed my gaze upon your charcoal eyes, on that stubble, on those lips that seem to have darkened because of all that smoking, on your chest: especially the bit that is showing through the first three undone buttons of your shirt, on your slightly protruding stomach, on your perfectly firm behind and of course, on that bulge of yours inside your pants. Would you feel ashamed if I mentally undressed you and let my eyes do all the talking? What would you have to say if I looked at you the way a toddler looks at a doll in a toy-store? How would you feel if I said that it was the way you dressed that made me do it, that you wanted the attention and I was simply giving it to you? Would you feel like a victim? No sir, of course not, you would be enjoying all of it, right? You always do. For this world is your kingdom, dear man. It is all about your power and your glory. I am nothing, nothing at all. Just some rare bird species, right?

 

You must be to comment.
  1. Srinath

    Hi I am Srinath. Firstly i am not disagreeing with the author.I just have a thought i would like to share.Every one has heard of Darwin Theory .Right!!!.I would like to extend that to explain this behavior. The theory states that every being(not only humans ) try to mate with another with qualities equal to them or with one who is better than themselves.Men are more competitive( OK this just got ugly what i meant by competitive is that men fight a lot among themselves for a particular thing than woman) than women.We can divide both men and women into two categories each-above average and below average(w.r.t every aspect of social life).Now there is a lot of imbalance here.More number of men are trying to be in the above average category everyday.But w.r.t women this number is very less(I meant no disrespect.basically this was due to no education for women during 1950-1980..and this may take some time to settle down.).As a result what we have is a high number of men in the above average category and very less number of women in the same.Naturally the competition is very high.And men, subconsciously, are always looking for a mate and as the number is very less their behavior becomes more aggressive day by day.Everything about life after coming of age and till marriage is about find a right mate for men(again subconsciously).We cant just stop thinking about it for one second.Now you may say that there are good men who are well behaved.Yes these are the guys whose families have developed masking their behavior efficiently.It doesn’t mean that they are not thinking about it. Now i am not defending the behavior of men.Staring at a women is bad and groping is even worse(I am not able to come out with bad words).I feel very sorry. It was a very good post.Made me think . Thank You

    1. Ankita

      Srinath, whether men are looking to mate all the time or not, is not the question or the issue. The issue is that most men cannot keep it in their pants and will “take” what they want whether the woman wants to comply or not. Whatever is going on in their heads, they still need to respect another human being. Simple.

    2. Sneha

      Srinath, I am a biologist. Trust me, Darwin never talked about how his theory of evolution justified men staring at women just because of “mate selection” (I will use biological terms here) or “competition” ….what he talked was evolution! And in his theory, man (and woman) is at the topmost branch of evolution. and what separates a human from a monkey is its ability to distinguish between right and wrong (and lot of other things). And mentally harassing anyone, is sure a crime, don’t you think so? (And yes staring at us seriously is a kind of mental harassment to us).

      What has above average or below average to do with staring at females, I am unable to connect. I am pretty sure, the most competitive and ambitious females (because of their competitive spirit and their eagerness to rise above the average) DO NOT stare at men! I am happy it made you think! we DO get offended when continuously are stared at! As she rightly said, we are not rare species!!! And I will quote you here “We cant just stop thinking about it for one second.” !!!! WHAT???!! Thats all you all think about all the time?!! I mean…seriously??!!!

      Coming back to evolution…A message to all men (who stare at women):

      “you are a result of millions of years of evolution, ACT like it!”

      (Phew)

    3. Sumedha

      Srinath

      I appreciate your views, thank you for taking the time out to comment, but considering the fact that I do not really have a scientific bent of mind, most of what you said did not make sense to me. So the way you are entitled to your opinions, I am entitled to mine. The whole issue of looking for mates does not even come into play here, it is more about inappropriate behavior and respect for human beings, irrespective of their gender. (as pointed out by Ankita)
      I am sure Darwin never had staring on his mind when he came up with that theory, so I do not understand how and why you are incorporating it here.
      Thank you.

  2. swathi

    Very well written, Sumedha. Whenever I try to explain this feeling to others I can never describe the insecurity and exploitation I feel but this article puts it perfectly. Srinath, I am speechless at your use of Darwin’s theory to describe the visual rape of women. I wonder if you would be this sympathetic if someone looked at your loved ones this way.

    1. srinathreddyvangala

      @d38312083c0e82e349b57a0ef6c16480:disqus I already said that i am not disagreeing with the author and it is hopeless to have a situation like this in the society.I just wanted to voice my opinion so that if there was a way to fight this we can.And there is no need to get personal on this issue.

    2. swathi

      @f9554951ae8b1956a6a4c432b192d39a:disqus I apologize if my statement offended you but here is the difference: for me this is inherently a “personal issue”.

    3. Sumedha

      Thank you Swathi 🙂

  3. Ashish Dabas

    Simply awesome.

    1. Sumedha

      Thank you Ashish

  4. Sneha

    How strikingly true… I am sad reading this because there is no woman/girl in India who came out of her house hasn’t gone through this…None…. I agree with Swathi (the previous commenter), this IS a personal issue because I have gone through this… Very well written…I have shared this on FB…Thanks a lot!

  5. Anisha

    Whoa, what a theory that is! So a woman who “looks(?) below-average”, because she did not receive a “good education(!! )” does not make a suitable mate?? oh– sub-consciously, of course…. And what about the old men and the married men and the men who target pre-pubescent girls and grey-haired women as well? Science FAIL, dude.

  6. Aastha

    Brilliant!

    1. Sumedha

      Thank you Aastha.

    2. Sumedha

      Thank you Aastha

    3. Sumedha

      Thank you Aastha

    4. Sumedha

      Thank you Aastha

  7. Sumedha

    Thank you Sneha. I am glad.

  8. Niharika Kunwar

    So proud of you Sumedha, this is brilliant 🙂

    1. Sumedha

      Thank you Niharika

  9. Vaibhav

    this is a great piece ma’am but please do not make it as a general statement. I respect your views but still there are men who would risk their lives saving a woman from the “man” of your article.

    1. Sumedha

      Thank you Vaibhav.
      I do respect your views, but please note the title, the article clearly refers to those men who stare at women in public places. I did not in any way mean to generalize.

    2. Niharika Kunwar

      This is not a general statement.. this is titled “to those men who cant help but stare”.

  10. chutkiawaaz

    Whoa, staring & leering is a sin now? We can’t tell you how you can dress and how many men you can fuck but you can tell men how to look with their eyes and how to think with their head?To me the idea of leering or staring as a ‘sexual harassment’ is a shit test by the female collective.Remember, it is only “harassment” if they aren’t attracted to you and called flirting if they are.If women have their way they will see all men who they are not attracted to arrested for daring to expectorate upon the alter of female privilege and entitlement. They hope the weak and timid among you are castrated by the threat, tuck your tail between your legs and stay away.Ladies,If you don’t want to be stared at…stay in your fucking home!

    1. Sumedha

      Thank you for taking the time out to comment on my article. I respect your opinions and would therefore expect you to respect mine, so sir (right?), this article is for people like you. I am glad you read it 🙂

    2. Womyn

      No, you can’t tell me how I dress and how many men I fuck.

      And I wouldn’t tell you how to dress or whom to fuck.

      there is a difference between a glance and a lingering body appraisal. It is violent and violating. It makes you feel unsafe and threatened in a real and physical way.

      In many cities in India it is a constant fact of daily life for women. It makes it difficult to walk on the streets. It makes it difficult to walk out at night alone. It is a constant fear and awareness that we live with.

      Your solution is that we “stay in our fucking homes”? You disgust me, sir. How narrow, how primitive.

      There is no such thing as ‘female privilege’. It isn’t weak or timid to respect other people (hey guess what, women are people too).

      And yes btw, leering is absolutely a sin. Leering by its very definition is unpleasant and unasked for. (verb [ no obj. ]

      look or gaze in a lascivious or unpleasant way)

    3. Sumedha

      Totally agree and I appreciate a comment by a feminist. (Womyn, right?) 🙂

    4. chutkiawaaz

      To leer could also mean ‘To look with a sidelong glance, indicative especially of sexual desire’. If you find it violent or violating – stay in your fucking homes.If you live in constant fear..come out of it. Don’t try to tell people what they should do to accommodate you or to help you come out of your paranoia.There is no such thing as..female privilege?..privilege blindness- works both ways perhaps? In fact, the science channel did a study where men would simply ask every female that went by if she wanted to go back to the male subjects place and have sex…most said no but 1 in 50 or so said yes.So to try and suggest ones sexual desire will only maximizes male reproductive opportunities but I am not suggesting people to physically harass women..but I call it shit test when you correlate staring to harassment.
      PS:- It is only called sexual harassment if she doesn’t like the guy doing it.

    1. Sumedha

      Hello Udit

      Considering the amount of power they hold, they would not really be facing the same problems that common women (lets do away with the ‘common man’ here, shall we?) like me do, but I am more than sure they are aware of whatever it is that I discussed in my article. I can only hope they think like me 🙂

  11. Ishani

    Awesome article!! Simply outstanding!!

    1. Sumedha

      Thank you Ishani.

  12. Zee

    brilliantly written, what a slapstick of an article.

    1. Sumedha

      Thanks a bunch Zee 🙂

  13. Tushara

    Very nicely written piece. It makes me sad though for the plight of all of us (women) and I continuously worry for my tiny daughter who would grow up one day to face all of this.

    1. Sumedha

      Thank you Tushara 🙂

      I completely understand your concern and hope the country becomes a safer place to live in by the time your daughter blossoms into a young woman.

  14. neofreedom

    No matter what a girl wears, men are going to look at her, it all happens all over the world. Its just that men here in India are a bit more uncivilized, and crude( not a general statement but a majority of them).

    What may be a glance in Europe or America, can be literally a visual dissection here. Nothing can be done about it, India is too large and complex a country to even think about sensitizing the male gender about this issue.

    1. Sumedha

      Hello neofreedom

      I think you are trying to pass off the fact that most Indian men are uncivilized and crude as an excuse for their inappropriate behavior. This is what I wanted to point out- that there is no justifying it. Also, men in Europe and America get to interact with the opposite gender more freely as they do not really have this flawed (if I may say) concept of an ”all girls” or an ”all boys” system of education. The low sex ratio, as in case of Haryana, the lack of education and awareness and the aforementioned flawed system is in my opinion, a reason behind women being unsafe in India. So there is a lot that can be done about it.

      I however thank you for taking the time out to comment.

  15. Torrent

    I’m a man, and at many places I’ve found women staring at me…it happens almost everyday…whenever I have friends with me I ask them if anything is looking too odd (hair messed up, shirt creased out of place etc…) and it’s none of that…..but the women still stare…and by “stare” I’m mean almost checking me out…I don’t wear anything too tight or show-offy…just plain regular T-shirts and trousers…and yet those glances…I don’t think its a man thing only…women do that too – and that’s not hearsay but my personal experience…so what do you make of that…AND a bigger fact…three or four times women HAVE tried to purposefully bump into me…I managed to take evasive action except once…now don’t tell me those were just accidental…no birdie, I’m smart enough to tell what’s wilful and what’s not…so what do I make of that…it’s just a myth that only men do it…women do that too…except that I give a f**king sh*t to that and go my way…and don’t sit around blogging to arouse and lend fuel to a feminist, er, sorry, masculinist movement…

    1. Sumedha

      Hi Torrent

      I then believe that there are female versions of such men who exist on our planet, women who have put the words that I wrote in my last paragraph to action. I empathize with you as I have gone through situations that are similar, maybe worse, owing to the actions of those that belong to your gender. Therefore, I think we need to bring about a change in the attitudes of both sexes, right? I wrote a piece addressed to the men who stare, why don’t you write one that is for the women? Blogging is not bad, you only get to voice your opinions and giving a shit about things is a good thing to do, owing to the fact that you are smart (you mentioned that, didn’t you?) It is only a humble request from this birdie.
      Thank you 🙂

  16. Murtuza Mithaiwala

    OMG. Ur article forced me to look inside me again. It made me feel guilty of me being a man. Sry to say but m hurt. But if men are such, i am ashamed of being a man. But to the positive side of it, there are also some good men around. hope u find one of them. Newz an awakening article though.

    1. Sumedha

      Murtuza
      I am sorry if my article hurt your feelings in any way. It was addressed to a select number of men, who gape at women shamelessly. I do believe in the existence of a few good men and considering your comment, I would like to think that you are one of them 🙂 Thank you for your response, I appreciate it.

  17. Nishtha Relan

    So beautifully written, this article. I loved every bit of sarcasm directed, and every bit of the pain and humiliation hidden under it. If only the men who really need to read such pieces put a thought to it!

  18. Ankit

    I think u are being too judgmental about how men stare at you. Sometimes men would look at you just to appreciate your beauty, your looks and i feel there is nothing wrong in that. Please accept the fact that there is always a sense of curiosity in males about females, even in animals this is true and probably that how the nature has made us. However at a number of times, specially at public places people stare at women deliberately making them uncomfortable, which is unacceptable. And they do it probably to play out their own weird fetishes. I don’t know what goes on in their mind but all i can say is, it is only natural for a man to look at a woman and weird feelings to develop in his mind, but it is his responsibility to ensure that he gets rid of such weird thoughts and not let himself become a source of discomfort for women.

  19. Jismy

    If you had hiked up the sarcasm i would I have done the great sacrilege of calling it a Neruda expressing itself at its best. 😉

    1. Sumedha Bharpilania

      I like your sarcasm better 🙂

  20. vivek

    i looked at you siting across the hall, i told myself ‘man” she’s is beautiful, then i had ur beautiful picture inside of me for sometime, …
    did i do anything wrong? i dont think so…

  21. Adishi

    Brilliant!

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