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August 07, 2006



I heard a great comeback for immodest (and otherwise inappropriate behavior) on the part of young men. Give them the glare (you know which one I mean, the one your mom used to give you before she said, "You are NOT going to step foot outside looking like THAT!") Then say with as much disdain as you can muster, "I'm sure your mother is very proud of you." Let's face it, men are also confused as to how to act. If they behave like a gentleman, will they be branded as a male chauvinist, or should they act like the bad boys and get the hotties? We can go a long way to restoring dignity if we send clear messages to the men around us.

From a mother of 4 boys who, I hope, will always be gentlemen.


Nene, I'll raise you one: getting too much attention from somebody who has a wife or girlfriend. In my case, a couple of sidelong glares helped. What also helped, I think, was my giving a few little gifts to his girlfriend. She showed him the gifts and he just turned around and walked off, perhaps with shattered fantasies of two women fighting over him.


Nene, while I have to admit that I absolutely detest that "once-over" look you describe - and it doesn't matter who the guy is, or what the situation is, you get it from almost every man! - I have the opposite "problem" in that I entered the realm of "invisible women" a long time ago, due to being middle-aged and somewhat overweight. The only looks I get now are immediate passovers. While the reactions you describe are irritating, I know I'm not the only woman who finds herself occasionally hurt that she no longer has a chance of inspiring even that kind of attention!

Just another point of view and my two cents...


Amen, but I would much rather they not say anything AT ALL to me on the street, whether deemed "modest" or "immodest."

I hate the arguably less offensive comments like: What's wrong with you? Smile! You can't smile!?

Just leave me alone altogether!!

But the thing with sexual harassment/street terrorism is that these guys don't care if they get rejected 20 times. They will get a hit at least once or twice from some dumb chick who likes that sort of immodest approach and that makes it worth the trouble to harass all of us.

My tactics: I turn to them and simply ask, why are you hollering/yelling/talking to me? and I keep walking OR I say, Is that how you talk to your sisters/aunt, etc? Other times if it feels safe enough and I'm especially irritated they get blessed out! I'm a fan of trying to embarrass them.


Lori, I'm not really understanding what you mean by showing "gifts to his girlfriend". Please explain!


Most men will give women the "quick once over." Its human nature, from way back when. Back in the Ozzie and Harriet 1950s do your really think men were just shutting their eyes and staring elsewhere into space when an attractive girl passed? If so, you have been living on another planet. The problem arises when the quick once over becomes an extended stare or leer, sometimes intended to intimidate the female target, or when it degenerates into lewd or vulgar comments. But guys are always gonna look and "check out" females, as they have since the dawn of creation.

Also I notice not mentioned is the provocative way many women dress, deliberately calling attention to themselves. You can't have it both ways. You can't wear short skirts, low cut blouses or low slung crack revealing jeans and then complain about the types of attention you are getting. Modest dress sends a signal to men, even the a-holes. Immodest dress sends another type of signal.

By the way, women also do their own "once over" thing. They are just more subtle about it and better at hiding their observation. But they too look for things on a man, not so much a body to be sure- buit other things such as material possessions and material appearance. So lets get real.


Karl's first sentence is stating the obvious I have to say. Nene's statement is far more powerful however. So I respond back to him with his closing statement, "Let's get real."

There is a way for men to say they're attracted respectfully and there is the manner of being crude and disgusting about it--Nene addressed that in her post already. When Nene writes "get" -- we women who have half a brain know what kind of remark was made that Nene had the grace not to write in detail.

So Karl, your remark about what planet Nene's been living on begs the reverse. It's clear to me which one she is living on. Yet I note that saying to anyone in discourse, "What planet do you live on --" is hardly a conducive remark for a respectful discussion. But since you stated that, I easily lob it back at you. What planet have you been living on because in the one we all live on, women already know the difference between looks men give us...those that flatter and those that repulse.

Nearly all of us have had the glance and the words said to us by men that flatter and cause a blush and those that repulse. The latter has nothing to do with a curious look, it has to do with being foul. Women have radar for that -- we can see through a glance and know a man's soul. Sometimes we adore it and glance back. Other times we find the man nothing more than repulsive. A glance says it all. A man (I'll assume you don't fall into this camp) who doesn't already know the subtleties by which we judge his glance, has no clue how to win a modest girl's heart. And unless he figures it out, he probably never will. And the passion he misses out on? That's apparently not on his planet either.


I think there may be respectful ways for a man to acknowledge an attractive woman. Think about how men used to tip their hats to women as they passed. Though there were probably men who did this with a lewd glance in their eyes, it seems that for the most part it was a sign of respect. Unfortunately we have no equivalent in today's culture.

Why do immodest men say coarse things and look at women rudely anyway? Don't they realize how unattractive that appears to the majority of women?


I think they frankly don't care how others perceive them.

I also think if you subtract Karl's planet comment, he has a valid point, which is that both sexes need to do their part (at least, that's where I thought he was going with his remarks).

The women can blame the men and the men, the women til the cows come home, but the reality is that, most likely, things won't get better until both sexes take responsibility for not bringing out the worst in each other.

I love that someone brought up the Smile thing--that has always bothered me (especially because I usually am in a good mood and do smile). But woe to the girl who at that particular moment, is not smiling.


Some men seem to think that they've bought tickets to a musical or something, when really it's a public street.

So what's the best response to the "Smile!" command?

I read this article by a crime expert who was advising women about how to avoid dangerous situations. One of his comments was that today, women feel that they "owe it" to men to interact with them, even strangers, that they have to apologize, explain, etc., if they do not want to interact with a stranger.

His point was simply, don't feel you have to be 'nice' to a male stranger--you don't owe him anything.

Interesting that women today need to be told that--where do they get the idea that they're supposed to be pleasing strangers in the first place?



Nene, I will explain about the gifts that I gave to someone's girlfriend.

There was a guy who kept giving me more than the once-over. He kept accidentally bumping into me (and neither of us is a klutz). I admit that I found him attractive, but the fact that he had a girlfriend and was giving me this attention made me uncomfortable.

I believe his girlfriend noticed what he was doing, yet she was gracious enough to do something nice for me. It was after that that I gave her a few little gifts in appreciation. Right there, she showed them to her boyfriend, and he just turned around and walked away (one of the few times I've seen him at a loss for words). He was expecting us to fight over him, maybe? Or at least be jealous instead of friendly on his account? I thought it was funny, but maybe you had to be there.

About the "smile" comment, I agree. My best guy friend has a bad habit of telling people to smile. He's a wonderful, positive person, not a lecher, and he means well. In fact, two days ago I told him I thought that whether people have a habit of smiling depends more on their upbringing rather than their mood. My parents didn't smile often and I imitated their expression. I've also heard that showing teeth is a rather American thing, so there's a cultural element also.


Jeannine, I love you- you explained my thoughts exactly. Karl, thanks for your comments and I assure you, I live on planet Earth and have observed this type of behavior from men far too many times.

And I know that women shouldn't wear provocative clothing and then not expect to be treated in this way by men. However, my point is that this happens (this rude once-over or crudely hollering out or approaching a woman) even when women are dressing modestly and are quite simply just going about their normal business. Case in point (and all the women here will know what I'm talking about). I was walking from work to Mass today downtown and I was wearing a normal, modest outfit (polo shirt with long white t-shirt underneath, loose fitting cropped khakis, and keds flats) and this guy says to me "Good morning!". Granted it was noon but it's the south and ppl are usually friendly like that so I said good morning back. And then I'm walking a little further and this man had apparently followed me! He called out to me and I came over because he had a piece of paper in his hand (I thought I had dropped something and he was coming to return it to me). But no, it was actually a piece of paper on which he had written his # and he wanted me to have it. And this was inappropriate because the guy was a lot older than me and had followed me for goodness sake! I said no thank you and kept walking.

This is what I'm talking about. Guys shouldn't follow me like a stalker and then hand me their # on a piece of paper as if I'd be impressed by some effort and not bothered by the creepiness of it all. But like someone else mentioned, there are women who would be flattered and encourage this type of behavior.

Lucie, I can understand what you're talking about. A lot of women would feel bad if guys stopped paying any attention to them. But there's more to a woman's worth than how many guys comment on her looks! Which I know you understand.

I also hate the "Smile!" comment- just leave me alone! Anyways, enough ranting for the day. I, and I think most women except rancid feminazis, like when guys are chivalrous. This is the best way to attract a modest woman's attention, I think.


There are guys who know how to behave. When I started college at Bryn Athyn (a conservative religious school) I was pleasantly surprised to find that guys looked at my face when I talked! I pass boys on the paths all the time, and I am greeted pleasantly. I have never been yelled at, or given the "x-ray" look. I find it very refreshing! If the guys at my school have learned to act this way, so can every other guy.


Karl - I think you are missing the point, or a couple of points. 1) There is a huge difference (as has been pointed out) between the "quick once-over" as you call it and the leer or inappropriate comment. 2) If you look at the top of your screen you will see that this is a Modesty Zone blog... which means... the women who are writing here are already committed to modest dress for women. So your comment "not mentioned is the provocative way many women dress... you can't have it both ways" does not apply here, however much it may apply elsewhere.

On occasions when I have got the "quick once-over" I actually do like it - I find it a compliment not only to my looks but to the confident way I present myself. God made man and woman and He made us to be attractive to each other, and I can understand someone who appreciates that. But that is worlds away from people who go beyond "appreciating" to making you an object of their personal fantasy - whether they voice that or just look it. And I hate the "Smile" comment! I have sometimes been smiling to myself on the bus or wherever, thinking about my husband or my friends or God's goodness in general, and when some guy makes a remark about it, I feel resentful that I have to change my facial expression to look angry or bored just to fend him off!

Sarah Pevey

I'm with you on the boys who need to keep their fat mouths shut, but I think that getting mad at a guy for checking you out might be futile, depending on how blatant it is. It took my fiancee months to make me realize that a lot of the time, when he checks out a girl, he's doing it unconsciously and instinctively. When I call him out on it, sometimes he has no recollection of even seeing her, even when it was obvious to me. A certain amount of guys checking out girls is reflexive, so don't be too harsh about getting the once-over. Sometimes, it's not an intentional slight.


Hrrm... When I first read Nene's post, I basically agreed, but after reading some of the comments, I'm less sure. Obviously, as some have mentioned, there's a difference between a "once-over" and a lascivious gaze, so it's not just a man giving a woman a glance that you find offensive, it's the type of glance.

I've made conversation with numerous women (strangers) and rarely, if ever, have they expressed dismissal or discomfort at being talked with. Of course, I do not stare lewdly, make suggestive remarks, or offer my phone #, but still "anon" points out an example of a man being attracted to her -- modestly dressed though she was -- and she found it offensive that he would have liked the opportunity to get to know her? How is he supposed to know you are "off-limits"? Is there something inherently wrong with a guy being attracted to you? Also, I'm curious: did you make eye contact with him?

I don't think I've ever approached a woman just for conversation who did not first make positive/intentional eye contact with me. But to read some of the remarks above, it makes it sound like men should quietly go about their lives, ignoring women completely unless the women give them express, written consent to look at them and/or begin a conversation.

Here's an example of a girl whom I know who was in a similar situation and didn't find it offensive at all...


Waxing nostalgic and reading my own posts, I've decided to respond to walt. A yr. later, I still find this kind of behavior annoying and it's happened a lot more now that I've moved to San Francisco.

I guess if I had found the guy attractive, it wouldn't have been that big of a problem. But he was not only way older than me but he was wholly unattractive. So I wasn't interested. At that age, he should have known better. It seemed like more of a sad attempt than a daring hope, if you know what I mean.

I don't remember making explicit eye contact with him. But then again, when I talk to anyone (except random street ppl here in SF) usually I look them in the eyes as a sign of respect for them.

Paul Clutterbuck

So in the light of all this hint-dropping and interpretation of facial expressions, what am I to do, since I have Asperger's Syndrome and (a) don't always read other people's facial expressions correctly, and (b) don't always understand what I'm communicating by my own facial expressions? I'm a genuine guy who doesn't want to exploit or insult anyone, but I can't know whether what I'm saying or doing is right or wrong unless someone tells me straight.

I've been reading quite a bit about relationships lately, since I'd like to start dating for the first time in my life, and I'm not sure where to begin. The sections of relationship books that cover women's flirting techniques are quite intriguing. When I look back, I realize that it's possible girls have been flirting with me, and I haven't noticed.

One girl in particular seems to have been fixing me with the 'anchoring gaze' not just once, but repeatedly for the last few months. What am I to make of that? If I respond to my interpretation of her looking at me, I run the risk of being so wrong that I'll be classed as a pervert, even if I never make a sexual reference. On the other hand, if I don't respond, I might be seen as callous and uncaring.

I don't want to give women unwanted attention, but at the same time I don't want to seem aloof. How should I approach this situation?

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