I do love my 13-year-old godson. He is not only intelligent, kind, and wickedly funny, but also incisive. He saw me reading an article the Good Men Project titled Seeing a Woman: A Conversation Between a Father and a Son. Author Nate Pyle wrote what he plans to tell his son once the boy is older and “catch[es] his eye doing what male eyes do well – following an object of lust.”
Pyle states, “I saw you look at her. I’m not judging you or shaming you. I know why you did. I get it. But we have to talk about it because how you look at a woman matters.”
Yet what follows is nothing less than shaming:
A lot of people will try and tell you that a woman should watch how she dresses so she doesn’t tempt you to look at her wrongly. Here is what I will tell you. It is a woman’s responsibility to dress herself in the morning. It is your responsibility to look at her like a human being regardless of what she is wearing. You will feel the temptation to blame her for your wandering eyes because of what she is wearing – or not wearing. But don’t.Don’t play the victim. You are not a helpless victim when it comes to your eyes. You have full control over them. Exercise that control. Train them to look her in the eyes. Discipline yourself to see her, not her clothes or her body. The moment you play the victim you fall into the lie that you are simply embodied reaction to external stimuli unable to determine right from wrong, human from flesh.
As my godson walked by, I called him over to read the article. The note is intended for someone my godson’s age, so I wanted to hear his opinion. He read for a few seconds and said, “I can solve this in two words: don’t stare.”
So simple, and so obvious. My godson’s parents taught his this rule when he was young, and they have rarely needed to remind him of it.
However Pyle complicates the situation by resorting to ironically shaming his son for his sexual interest in women, assuming his son is straight, and ignoring women’s agency. It is normal for people to look at those they find sexually attractive. It is also normal for people to dress in a way that will attractive people they find sexually attractive. Many women dress in a way to attract men’s attention. We need not pretend that does not happen to make the point that no one, male or female, should stare at another person.
Yet going back to Pyle’s son’s sexuality, it will prove quite interesting if Pyle’s son is gay. Will he give the boy the same talk or will he, like many feminists, assume that staring at men — with lust, contempt, or any emotion — is perfectly fine?
While Pyle’s note to his son presents a host of problems, the silliness of his argument shines best in the comments. Valter Viglietti states in a comment:
I hope you and your son happily agree about it, but you know what?
In the end, about women feeling uneasy because I look at them, I decided that I don’t care.
I’m really fed up with this meme that I call “A man should NEVER make a woman suffer (including making her uncomfortable or uneasy)”. It’s unrealistic, unfair and sexist: because it puts all the pressure and burden on one gender alone.
When people like you have this talking, they are much worried about women’s feelings, but they seem to totally forget about men’s feelings. If I have to repress, discipline, and condition myself to avoid making any woman uneasy, then I WILL BE the one feeling uneasy.
That’s not equality, isn’t it?
To which Joanna Schroeder responds with:
YOU don’t have to make women feel uncomfortable. That’s in your control. I have no control over how men treat me, look at me, follow me, or touch me. It’s on YOU not to do that to me.
I mean, in your world, I could say, “I’m so tired of not hitting cars when I park. I mean, you need to think about how I feel when I’m parking. I have to be so careful! I have to sometimes back up and adjust so that I don’t hit any cars. It’s such an inconvenience. I don’t care how it affects the other cars. I’m tired of MY right to hit your car being disregarded when I’m driving. I should be able to do whatever I want to make my life easier. I don’t care anymore about what I do to other cars.”
I’m sickened by this. Ill.
“Psychopathy (/saɪˈkɒpəθi/) (or sociopathy (/ˈsoʊsiəˌpæθi/)) is a personality trait or disorder characterised partly by enduring anti-social behavior, a diminished capacity for empathy or remorse, and poor behavioral controls.”
Schroeder ignores that psychopathy/sociopathy requires a lack of empathy towards everyone, not just particular group of people, and not just in a specific situation. While I would agree that Viglietti’s comment is unsavory, that does not make him a sociopath.
He also has a point. The feminist argument is that men should treat women’s feelings as paramount over everything else. Men must anticipate how a woman feels, and react to that feeling in the way that best serves her.
This is of course ridiculous. No one can anticipate how someone will react to a glance, a look, or a stare. Yet Schroeder, when confronted with the absurdity of her position, presents analogy after hyperbolic analogy that are in no way comparable to men looking at women. When she gets fed up with her analogies getting picked apart, Schroeder states:
Nobody, not once, said there’s a problem with eyes catching on another person and looking for a moment. This whole thing is about looking at a woman in a way that takes away her humanity.
No one stated anything about catching another person’s eye at all. Pyle specifically states:
You will feel the temptation to blame her for your wandering eyes because of what she is wearing – or not wearing. But don’t. Don’t play the victim.
Pyle also states:
We fear each other because we have been taught the other is dangerous. We’ve been a taught a woman’s body will cause men to sin. We’re told that if a woman shows too much of her body men will do stupid things. Let’s be clear: a woman’s body is not dangerous to you. Her body will not cause you harm. It will not make you do stupid things. If you do stupid things it is because you chose to do stupid things. So don’t contribute to the fear that exists between men and women.
Yet Pyle’s argument, along with the feminists leaving comments, is that a man’s body is dangerous to women. It is so dangerous that even his eyes are dangerous. His eyes are so dangerous that even a boy’s eyes are a threat to grown women. And any man or boy who does not control his eyes will contribute to this fear between men and women.
But telling people that a male simply looking at a female makes him a threat to her in way contributes to that fear.
Pyle also ignores an important aspect to someone staring: their thoughts. Pyle appears to assume that any male who stares at a woman only sees her body. That man or boy apparently never wants to know what the woman or girl thinks, what food she likes, what movies she likes, what she sounds like when she laughs, if likes the same music he does, if she always goes to that store she walked out of or if this is a one-off visit.
No, when males star at females, they only think sex, sex, and more sex.
Schroeder eventually bows out, which prompts Mark Greene to write:
I think the issue here is that these few men just don’t get it. And its pretty obvious they don’t get it because they pile on and raise a stink about their “rights” in the absolute absence of any women’s voices supporting them. They look around and the only woman in the conversation has left the room. Nice work, guys. Nice work.
The author is talking about a set of soft skills here. A frame for viewing the full context of what it is to be a women, which includes the threat of being intruded on, harassed and abused. These are soft skills mind you, not rules so much as a PHILOSOPHY for approaching the entire world of women, some who have been abused by men. In the old days, it was called being a gentlemen. Something which these guys don’t get. Will never get. And will suffer bad relationships with women all their lives because they don’t get.
Of course women owe men these same considerations. So don’t start up with that.
The funny thing about being a gentlemen is that a gentlemen applies his philosophy of respect and kindness to everyone, not just women.
The funny thing about Pyle’s note to his son is that he never suggests that his son apply these rules to everyone, only to women.
Again, all of this can be summed up in two simple words: don’t stare.
No one needs the complaints about not being able to look where you want, the hyperbolic analogies, or another “man up!” pep talk.
Do not stare at people. Any people. Simple and to the point.
Now Pyle, Schroeder, and Greene can get back to the Good Men Project’s important feminist task of ironically dehumanizing all males by publishing articles that imply that unless taught otherwise all males, even little boys, will inherently objectify women.