Social Question

nikipedia's avatar

What is the appropriate response when men blatantly stare at your boobs?

Asked by nikipedia (27454points) June 21st, 2012

Especially in a professional environment. What the fuck?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

62 Answers

Kardamom's avatar

There’s always the old, “Excuse me! My eyes are up here.” Then point at your eyes.

Blondesjon's avatar

It doesn’t matter what you say. If a fella is blatantly staring at your boobs, by definition he doesn’t care whether you care or not.

spoiler alert: some guys do it just to see if you will say something . . .

josie's avatar

Not much you can do I suppose. It’s not the same as them reaching out and touching them. Are you going to tell the boss they are staring at your boobs? At that point, they will probably deny it. Then what?
Wait!!!! I just thought of something. Say the following, “Wouldn’t it be nice if you had anything at all that I could look at?”
But, no. Then he might actually show you.
So, no help here I guess.

chyna's avatar

You could just flat out tell him to stop staring at your boobs.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

“What are you…did I spill something on my shirt?”

nikipedia's avatar

It feels unprofessional to me to call someone out on it, especially in a meeting with a bunch of people.

ucme's avatar

Erect nipples?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

If it feels unprofessional or uncomfortable to say something, then just ignore it. There isn’t really any other option, is there? In a meeting, there is a tendency for people to zone out. Maybe their look just landed in that area.

janbb's avatar

I really have never noticed men doing that to me. Maybe it is because I am short and it is a physical impossibility?

ragingloli's avatar

Take out your stiletto and puncture his trachea.

thesparrow's avatar

Thank God I only have moderately-sized boobs.

thesparrow's avatar

I was hit on my older men at by work and it was really disgusting, but I didn’t do anything about it. I actually found it amusing, albeit a little annoying. You really need to do something about it when it gets to a point where it’s dangerous to you, if someone is stalking you or making threats.

zensky's avatar

Enjoying the view?

Boobs, man, gotta love ‘em.

jrpowell's avatar

Stare at his dick.

I’m not sure what you could do that would produce a positive outcome. You could say something so he stops ogling you. But that might make things worse. It is a tough situation and since you are a lot smarter than I am sure you will make the right decision.

cheebdragon's avatar

Stomp on his foot really hard, then say “you would have seen that coming if you hadn’t been so focused on my boobs.”
He can’t report you for anything without Ratting himself out for sexual harassment.

SuperMouse's avatar

@nikipedia calling him out on it is no more unprofessional then staring at a woman’s breasts during a meeting.

Blackberry's avatar

Other than having a talk with him, there’s not much that can be done. Sometimes you just gotta check out some mams. Although staring too long is rude and some people don’t care who they offend.

thesparrow's avatar

@johnpowell He’d probably be happy you were staring there; maybe he would get the idea that there could be some sexual interaction after the meeting. Unless you stared at it and said ‘well, I know I’ve got a lot to look at, but there isn’t much on your end.’

marinelife's avatar

Say, “Eyes up here, please,” gesturing at your eyes. That is a rudeness that is not to be tolerated.

ratboy's avatar

I believe that a simple “thank you” would suffice.

tups's avatar

This happens to me often and it can be really annoying, especially when it’s someone who really is not supposed to look at them. I usually just try to move a little or cover them up, which results in a really weird body posture. O.o

Rarebear's avatar

Tell him to stop staring at your boobs.

You might enjoy this song

thesparrow's avatar

Man I’m soo glad this doesn’t happen to me.

wundayatta's avatar

Ignore him. Don’t talk to him. Don’t do any work with him.

A man like that clearly can’t concentrate on his job. He misses half of what goes on. He’s fantasizing about you and your boobs.

You could be snide to him. Make little comments about how he seems to be unable to focus on work when you’re around. Perhaps he would feel more comfortable in the copy room, making copies of Playboy. That way, at least he’d get to know what a fake boob really looks like.

But mostly if someone doesn’t treat me right, I write them off. I don’t talk to them. I have as little to do with them as possible. I don’t announce that I’m doing it. I just do it.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

Out of curiosity, do you ever find lesbians staring at your boobs, or is this a strictly male phenomena?

nikipedia's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought, honestly it’s pretty rare that men do it, unless we’re in a club/bar and the girls are hanging out.

I can’t say I’ve ever noticed a woman staring, although I’m not sure how I’d know if she was a lesbian.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@nikipedia Feel free to smack me in the head. I’ve been working hard on not doing it. It’s insulting and sexist. If If get smacked enough it might help me out.

Berserker's avatar

In a professional environment, it’s probably best to remain polite, and let them know they’re making you uncomfortable, and ask them to stop. Just looking at a guy who’s looking at your boobs usually makes them look elsewhere, or maybe that’s because I have such a grouch face. I don’t think some dudes like ’‘getting caught’’, but if they do, or don’t care, your best bet is to be firm, but polite.

roundsquare's avatar

If they do it to enough women in the office I suppose you could complain as a group. At least that way its harder for him to deny.

I guess I’m curious what the exact setting is. Are you two talking one-on-one or is he zoned out at a meeting? If its at a meeting, I wouldn’t confront him there because it will blow back on you.

I wouldn’t be surprised if almost all heterosexual men hadn’t checked out a co-workers breasts at some point or another (and probably pretty frequently). But most of us don’t stare at them. Or at least we don’t think we do.

Also, I suppose it depends how old he is. If he’s a fresh college grad, it may be worth giving him some benefit of the doubt and talking to him first. Give him a chance to mend his ways. If he’s older though, that’s different.

syz's avatar

You could always stare at their crotch, and then sympathetically say “Ah, poor little thing.”.
Or say “Haven’t been through sensitivity training yet, hmm. I hear it’s sooo much fun.”
Or “Hey, Bob, how’s that sexual harassment lawsuit going?”

nikipedia's avatar

@roundsquare, the particular situation the prompted the question was this: I met with the director of the statistics consulting core at my school to ask some questions about how best to manage some inherent problems in my data. He opened the meeting by staring at my boobs, proceeded to talk to me as if I didn’t understand basic statistical techniques, and implied the data I had was sufficient for a pilot study but not publication. I asked him some softball questions and terminated the meeting 40 minutes early.

It was a one on one meeting, and the first (and last) time I had met him.

janbb's avatar

I thought I just posted something but it got lost. To repeat:

A new guy in my husband’s office was fired because many women complained that he was staring at their boobs.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Symbeline I think nikipedia is asking how to ask them to stop and how to be firm but polite about it. How would you go about this?

@roundsquare The company I worked for had a Zero Tolerance policy when it came to any type of harassment. The first recommendation was to confront the person yourself. Often people don’t realize what they say or do can be construed as uncomfortable to others. A private word can often make someone aware of the result of their action and stop it there, especially if there is a company policy.

I’ve witnessed several co-workers who suddenly disappeared from the workplace, including some VPs. Rumors get out, and some were attributed to sexual harassment, which wasn’t surprising in these cases. One was a regional VP who liked to kiss us on the lips when he was in town. Another was a VP of IT that would look women up and down and make comments that could be construed as rude. Apparently, one or enough people reported their behavior.

@nikipedia Check into the policy of the school when it comes to harassment. Report it to the appropriate authority. Not only is this instructor out of line for their staring, but he doesn’t seem to be doing his job.

syz's avatar

@nikipedia Ah, see, I’m kind of a bitch, so I probably would have asked him if there was something about my bra size that made him think I wasn’t interested in carrying on an intelligent conversation with him, or if it was just his own shortcomings.

That depends, of course, on whether I actually thought of it in time, or if it was one of those damned irritating occasions when I think of what I want to say after I leave.

bkcunningham's avatar

@nikipedia, it is something that is going to happen to you no matter what. There have been a couple of men in my work-life who talked to my chest and the chest of every other woman they encounter. They aren’t bad guys. They just talk to your chest. I’m not even sure if they were actually looking lustfully at my breasts or just looking at my breasts when they talked like someone would look at an invisible spot to the right of your head when they speak.

It always helped me to have another woman to talk to who witnessed it or who had it happen to them as well. I honestly never let it bother me and took it for what it was. A man staring at my breasts. Not a big deal in my book. I would always sort of tilt my head and try to catch and hold their eyes when it happened. But sure enough, their eyes would head straight down to my breasts again. Sometimes, if I was in a bad mood and had to deal with the old fellows, I’d cross my arms over my chest and sort of point my middle finger in a subtle way that wouldn’t get me in trouble.

nikipedia's avatar

@syz, I had initially thought the dude had talked down to me because he’d had bad experiences with biologists trying to do statistics, and the boob issue was separate. It wasn’t until I posted the question that I realized the boob staring and talking down might be related…

Berserker's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Oh, well I’d just keep it simple. Could you please look somewhere else? Say thanks when he does. But now that I read her details about it, seems a little more complicated; I’m imagining a random co worker doing this, rather than this happening at a personal meeting. In that case I’d say something similar to what I suggested, and add that we get to the point of said meeting, even if it was some kind of interview where I’m not suppose to have much power of say. Easier said than done I guess, but I find it the most mature way to go about it. outside of crescent kicking them in the face I mean

bkcunningham's avatar

@janbb, I’ve never heard of someone getting fired for staring at breasts. Did he get a warning to cease and desist before he got fired?

janbb's avatar

@bkcunningham I’m sure. He also may have been on his probationary period.

bkcunningham's avatar

When I was taught about harassment, it didn’t having anything to do with staring at breasts. It was more about withholding promotions or pay raises if sex wasn’t performed. Or threatening someone with the loss of their job is they didn’t do things that didn’t involve the job. That sort of thing. Do you think it is bad that I don’t take someone staring at my breasts very seriously? I absolutely am not dismissing your concerns, @nikipedia. I want you to feel comfortable at work and want to help you. I’m just saying for me, it wasn’t ever anything I’d want someone to lose their job over.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Is it better to be blatant about it or to do it surreptitiously? You’re still being ogled because of your boobs. The only difference is that peeks are being sneaked as opposed to being obvious.

Is it any less offensive if I’m staring at your boobs and you DON’T know about it?

I’m not convinced that there is a whole lot of difference, and that you can do much about it in the first place. At least with a blatant starer, you know what’s going on. A quick peeker, you have no idea.

chyna's avatar

@elbanditoroso In this case, to me, it sounds like he was doing it to try to intimidate her. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know for sure. But to answer you, it is better to not do it at all. Can’t people have some self control? Show a little restraint? I really don’t see many women ogling mens crotches.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@chyna, it may be better to not do it at all in an ideal world where everyone behaves wonderfully. Unfortunately, that world does not exist, and dreaming and baying at the moon will not make it so.

So you have to deal with reality. Which is what my question was about.

Trillian's avatar

You could make a hand held sign the size of your breasts – a picture of bare breasts with eyes instead of nipples, and a pair of glasses. Just have it ready and hold it up in front of your chest the next time he does it.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@thesparrow I think that @johnpowell might actually be on to something. A female colleague of mine had a lot of success convincing a few of our male colleagues that leering at a woman’s breasts was inappropriate by asking them to spread their legs and let her stare at their crotches for 30 seconds. None of them lasted for more than 15 seconds before they closed their legs and admitted that it was uncomfortable for them. I’m not saying it would go so well with everyone, but it can be an effective technique.

mattbrowne's avatar

I’d use a powerful negative reinforcement strategy that also works in a professional environment. It’d be best if other women joined your cause with this particular man. Don’t tell him that you caught him staring. Instead this might work:

Abruptly clap your hands very loudly, saying: “Hey, I’ve got a great idea.” Then invent some idea based on the given business context. The clapping and your unexpected loud voice will definitely startle the staring man. He will be irritated about the unusual reaction and being interrupted while enjoying the view. Now if several women do the same when they catch the guy staring, at some point (before staring yet again) his brain will kick in and he might not be willing to “touch the hot electric stove” again. Kids don’t touch a hot stove too often.

CWOTUS's avatar

I suspect that if it was, as you say, “blatant”, that it wasn’t so much him staring at your chest as him not being able to look you in the eyes and face when he spoke. We have a lot of engineers at our place who are like that. They meet everyone with their heads down and/or eyes averted. So while it seems like “he’s looking at my chest” (which I notice even when they speak with me), it’s not so much a “looking at” as it is “not looking at” my face.

In your case, I suppose, since you obviously have a chest worth looking at, and more of a history of guys wanting to look at it, it seems to you as if he’s blatantly looking in that direction. I’d be willing to bet that it’s not really as blatant as you think – although I can understand why it seems that way.

cazzie's avatar

Is this guy some how impaired mentally? Does he have ‘looking people in the eyes’ issues? Like a form of Aspergers? I wonder if @CWOTUS point could have merit, but if it doesn’t and the guy is an obvious jerk…. because, let’s face it, if he is looking at your chest because of base desires, there are going to be other indicators in his behaviour, I would absolutely call him out on it. Perhaps not DURING the meeting, because you are in that meeting to get something done, but after the meeting, talk to fellow colleagues who witnessed the behaviour and ask if they would be willing to go into a little chat with you, the offender and your manager. Face the guy and tell him what you saw and how you feel about it. Let the witnesses of the gawking have their say. It should resolve itself in one way or another from there.

Supacase's avatar

In a one on one situation, I would say, “So, Bob…” then wait for him to make eye contact before continuing.

In a meeting or even one on one if it felt more comfortable, I would cross my arms as a signal that I know what they aPutin to or put my hand on my chin, crossing my breasts with my forearms to ‘ponder’ something. That might pull him outof his trance.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Take one hand and put it up to the spot between your collarbone and top, just resting it there, maybe checking the top button or whatever. It’s a protective gesture that most people understand and calls attention to the fact someone is staring.

Supacase's avatar

Still adjusting to autocorrect. “aPutin” was supposed to be “are up.”. But, really, is aPutin actually a correction for anything?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@Supacase: autocorrect was probably staring at your boobs and got distracted.

Facade's avatar

It depends on the situation. Normally, I just ignore them. I’ll embarrass them if I need to. A lot of older women stare at my boobs too. I think they think I’m a floozy.

tups's avatar

@Facade lol, the thing with the older women happens to me too.

flutherother's avatar

I would ask him if he wants to get a bit closer to smell the joke flower you have worn in your lapel. When he does you can then squirt him at short range.

roundsquare's avatar

@nikipedia How old is he? Not that I think being old and of the older generation is an excuse, but at least it would explain something. I ask because if he is older he may not be used to thinking of women as intelligent people, which is a bigger problem. If you had asked him some really difficult/technical/etc… questions, he may have realized that he is wrong. (Not that I’m blaming you, but just a random thought for next time. Its not really your job to to change his messed up assumptions).

In terms of how this affects my recommendations… I think you need some support from other women if you are going to make a complaint. Otherwise its he-said she-said and if he is generally respected, you’ll lose.

@Pied_Pfeffer ” A private word can often make someone aware of the result of their action and stop it there”

I’ve heard that before but never seen it in action. I assume that is because it happens in private. I’d be curious to know if there is any data on this. Personally, I think it would work with me, but I wouldn’t want to extrapolate from my situation.

“especially if there is a company policy.”

That makes a lot of sense. Awareness + fear.

“The company I worked for had a Zero Tolerance policy when it came to any type of harassment.”

Depending on what qualifies as harassment, I’d agree with this. So, tying promotions to sex should be one strike and your out. A quick glance at a woman’s breasts during a meeting should probably not be. Somewhere in between is where I’d draw the line, though I don’t know exactly where.

@chyna We’re sadly not there yet. But things are getting better. Just think about the situation 10 or 20 years ago. Yes, it’d be nice if we were further along, but all we can do is push a little bit at a time.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@roundsquare – you need to be wary of calling a boob look harrassment. That may start a chain of events that will ultimately not work out well for women.

If a stare or a leer is enough to get a guy disciplined, the pendulum will begin to swing against women in the workplace – if even a brief admiration is reason for punishment, then managers and employers will begin to think that women are too much of a distraction and cause too much workplace disruption. And as a result, women will slowly be edged out of the advances that they have made because they will be too much hassle.

I know that’s unfair and not right, but it is reality.

Be VERY careful when crying wolf.

roundsquare's avatar

@elbanditoroso Fair enough. Probably the wrong word to use.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@roundsquare A quick internet search only shows sexual harassment statistics broken down by types of cases that were brought to the attention of authorities.

As for the company’s Zero Tolerance policy, it encompassed any type of harassment, including sex, gender, race, religion, etc. We not only had to sign this policy during orientation, but everyone had to attend an annual training class on harassment. Again, the recommendation was to first speak to the person privately about how they felt when a comment or action, such as a chest stare, made them feel uncomfortable. All I can tell you is that, over the 25 years I worked for the company, people became much less ‘friendly’ and more professional. There doesn’t seem to be any on those that confront the person privately. All I can tell you is that I went this route once, and the guy’s behavior stopped…at least with me. He eventually was fired for, according to the rumor mill, sexual harassment.

The policy wasn’t about immediate termination of the accused. It was about creating a safe environment for all employees. While not privy to the HR process for these cases, I suspect that they would have a conversation with the accused without identifying the accuser. If enough cases crop up, or even better, evidence, then the accused was fired.

LittleLemon's avatar

I’ve noticed this before, but all of the people in question were tactful enough to appear embarrassed and then look me in the eyes quickly afterward. This guy sounds like a total creep. If you have to deal with him again, I’d be a jerk and use any of the aforementioned ball-buster moves.

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