I listened to my classmates tell painful stories of the first time they noticed men ogling their bodies. I realized that I’d grown up believing what many men believe, that guys may not have a right to touch what they see, but they have a right to look as much as they want. Listening to women’s stories, I understood for the first time just how uncomfortable it was to be on the receiving end of those penetrating stares. The jerks who genuinely don’t care how their stares make other people feel aren’t likely to be reading this, and if they do, they’ll ridicule it. These are the lads who think it’s their God-given right as men to take ownership with their eyes of all that they survey, and they don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. A blogger named Holly once wrote, in a comment about this very subject, that there should be “no objectification without due subjectification.” That’s jargon, but the idea is a simple and useful one: it’s OK to stare at someone else’s body (and even long for it) as long as you don’t ever forget that you’re looking at a person. And just as you have a right to lust, that person has a right to not be made forcibly aware of your desire.
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