Dear Staring Men,
Little kids have a weird grasp on how the world works. They can’t quite figure out that the other person in the mirror is actually their own reflection, and they think that when they cover their eyes, no one else can see them, because they can’t see anything.
Thing is, they grow out of it. They realize that you don’t have to be making eye contact with someone to be capable of seeing them, and vice versa. So why, when you were staring at me outside the grocery store, did you think I wouldn’t notice? Was it because I was wearing sunglasses, and you assumed that, because you couldn’t see my eyes, that I couldn’t see you? Did you just not care?
I really wish I had just gone up to you and told you guys to stop staring, but I was afraid of your reaction. You made me extremely uncomfortable, and my instinct was to run and hide, not to confront you. I should have, I think. I should have let go of my husband’s hand, stomped over to you, taken off my sunglasses (you might have been confused otherwise), and said, “Stop staring at me.” I might have thrown in a “please.” Maybe. Your staring was not subtle, and you were really irritating me. I wanted nothing more than to make you stop.
Because hey, guess what, it’s 2012 and you’re in the USA. A lot of women have gone through a lot of hardship, and still go through hardship in some parts of this great country, to get men to treat them as human beings and not pretty pictures or real-life centerfolds or their personal entertainers. I guess I should thank you for not doing anything more creepy than stare, because I have heard of much worse happening, but I shouldn’t have let you get away with even that much. Every time someone fails to call you out on your nasty behavior, you think you can continue to get away with it. I let you get away with it. Even my husband let you get away with it after I pointed the two of you out from the safety of the store. He made sure to stand between you and me on our way out, but neither of us spoke up. We let you carry on being creepy. Who knows how many other women you ogled from your bench that day? How many of them were wearing sunglasses, and looked away uncomfortably while you, total strangers, leered freely at them, without fear of retaliation? How many of them also went home to a loved one and complained about you and wished they’d said something?
I hope someday soon, someone does say something to you. I hope someone else has the courage to respond to you instead of ignoring you, to let you know that what you did is rude and hurtful and creepy and not acceptable.
Actually, to be honest, I hope someone outright slaps you, but I’ll settle for a firm scolding.