Wise Guys: How Can I Stop Men from Ogling Me?

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week they answer the following: “By nature, I’m very curvaceous: big boobs, thin waist, round butt. Aside from wearing a tent, I can’t really hide this fact. So, how do I get men to treat me like a human being and not a sex object?” To ask the guys your own question, click here.

terence_100Gay Committed Guy (Terence): Men are going to see what’s in front of them and there’s way no around it that I know of. If they see you dressed in a tent, then they’ll treat you like a woman in a tent. Same goes with wearing a bikini top and tight jeans. I can’t control anyone’s first impression of me and neither can you, but every subsequent moment is entirely up to you. It is up to you to speak, act, and carry yourself as if you mean business. Hold his gaze if you have to, and make it clear you won’t accept his shit, his snide remarks, or his lecherous glances. You may not walk away friends, but you will begin to establish your reputation, command respect, and establish some basic expectations.

Straight Single Guy (Tom Miller): That sound you hear is every single other woman on Earth (except for Christina Hendricks, of course) harrumphing. Guys firmly believe women know what they’re doing when they get dressed in the morning and get really confused when we hear, “Hey Chachi, my eyes are up here.” Supposedly, evolution has programmed us to glance (even gay dudes like big boobs) so you unless you get a reduction or begin wearing the aforementioned tent, you may be stuck. And, unfortunately, mentioning it to these guys will be awkward at a minimum and they could think you’re uptight or worse. Your best bet is to dress conservatively and go to lengths to maintain eye contact while you talk.

anonymous_suitStraight Married Guy (Fred): First of all, it’s not really men’s fault. We’re wired to be attracted to your features. We didn’t ask to be. Some men have more control over it than others. And some men are just dickheads about it.

At work, you should call men on this. Don’t let them get away with it. Have some snappy rebuttals ready. “What are you, a 13-year-old boy?” “I don’t think Walter will close the deal, his brain has been replaced with another tiny penis.” “Hey, dum-dum, stop looking at my tits.” Those aren’t very good, but you get the idea.

If you’re looking for a relationship, my only advice is to find the right man. Period. A man who is looking for a relationship will treat you differently from a man who is looking for sex. You won’t be able to stop every man (who has a pulse) from thinking about sex when encountering you, but look for the subtle clues that tell you a man is trying to work through the flood of hormones.

On the street — if you just need to pop out to the store and don’t want any attention at all… wear the tent.

Our “guys” are a rotating group of contributors. Tom Miller writes the Tomfoolery blog for YourTango; Terence is an American living in Sydney; Fred is a little shy. To ask the guys your own question, click here.


  1. Guys who ogle often would like to have a nice conversation with a woman, but worry that they’ll have to hold up both ends of it, she’ll get bored, snap at him, etc, etc – so he just settles for a little low risk, high reward ogling instead.

    The best way to stop this is to start a conversation with him (with good eye contact) and show him that it’s actually nicer for both of you than just his “cleverly concealed” silent sweaty ogling. Slightly complex topics will also force him to focus on the conversation at hand – and off of your bosom.

  2. Women – bear in mind that there are SOME guys out there who are definitely not ogling you, and yet you assume that they are. I find that when I’m walking down the sidewalk, if there is an attractive woman approaching, I HAVE to look down. If I simply stare straight ahead, or mind my own business and forget about her, she’ll assume that I’m staring.

    I’m usually just listening to music and looking straight down the street, get over yourself!


  4. I know this thread is old, but I’m gonna put in my two cents anyway.
    Here is the difference between men ogling and women ogling:
    When a man ogles me, I know that if he really was struck by the idea, he could drag me behind the bushes and rape me.
    A woman can’t do that to a man. In this society we can’t threaten a man with our bodies. We can’t dominate.
    When men assert their power by looking at me like they want to rape me, I don’t feel comfortable. Guess what, men? I feel like you’re going to rape me! So excuse me if I give you a dirty look or cuss you out, but I feel threatened in one of the worst ways a woman can.

  5. Yeah. You guys should read a few pages from ihollaback and THEN tell me how it’s just completely natural and fine! I am a highly sexual person, but you know what? I haven’t bought into some bs about how it’s “just natural” that I should sexually harass every person I find attractive, SO I DON’T DO IT. I bet you guys would ask a woman what she was wearing if she confided in you that she was raped (because obviously no one in nun habits and burqas are ever harassed or raped). “Dress conservatively.” Honestly. Fuck you.

  6. Are you kidding me? I should NOT have to dress “conservatively” (re: dress so that I won’t want to fuck you!) to command respect from hetero men. I. Should. Not.

    It is not MY fault that you are attracted to me. It is YOURS for staring. Didn’t you ever learn staring is rude?

  7. Johnny,

    that’s an awesome post. (for the most part) I’m a straight guy who lives in a gay friendly neighborhood and, growing up, definitely was in showers with gay men, after sports practice. So, men have and do deal with this too in very clear ways. That being said the feeling of vulnerability is not to be denied. I think you correctly identify that the lingering stare and really beyond that the insinuating stare are the problem because it is that that goes beyond simply appreciating someone’s appearance to implying a specific unasked for intent. For anyone rude enough to ogle (insinuating stare) a sharp retort is appropriate, I won’t go to the extent of advocating a violent reenactment of the sauna scene from Eastern Promises. To the degree that one is comfortable with oneself, the power dynamic doesn’t have to change. A person can attempt through language and action to assert their belief of their own power, but that only works if the other person succumbs to that assertion. Like most bullies, it usually takes one withering blow to cave in their egos. When I have been in the situation I’ve definitely disliked the attention and wanted it to end immediately. Usually all that’s necessary is disdain and disregard. I think the earlier posters who suggest maintaining a clear sense of self and making it apparent through your own actions that you’re not interested in that sort of attention and dislike it will have the most immediate effect. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to send out advance warning to all the strangers out there that you don’t want to be ogled and unfortunately not all of us were raised in the UK where, apparently, it is the cultural norm not to ogle. I do think that things are changing here in the US and while it may not be as quickly as people would like there is more equanimity in the “ways of seeing” than ever before. It’s certainly true that guys are now being ogled by women more blatantly than ever and some women like some men take it to levels that are inappropriate. So in the end perhaps the best that we can do is failing to make it clear in advance to an ogler that we are not sex objects rather to make it perfectly clear that we are not THEIR sex objects.

  8. Can I suggest moving to London or most other Northern European cities?

    Where I live, it is so unacceptable to stare that men and women tend to check each other out quickly and unobtrusively. Yes, if you’re young or curvaceous you will get more attention, but it’s usually understood that it should be fleeting and civil. Anyone ogling in public – particularly on the street or at work – would expect a flinty ‘What are you looking at?’ or ‘Can I help you?’ respectively. One of the few things I dislike about travelling abroad for work is the aggressive staring and comments – but at least it makes me appreciate my home country more.

    Other than moving somewhere with a different culture, I’d agree with commenters who say move with confidence, hold people’s gaze, and let them know non verbally that you expect respect. There is no need for tents!

  9. I think you’re missing a couple important points, kdji and Robin

    First of all, let’s define the ogler: He looks, he leers, he drools. But he stays put, and keeps his mouth shut. Anything more than that and he’s harassing you. But at this point or less, he’s not a threat to you. Impolite, maybe, but any threat is in your head. And he’s not responsible for your fearful nature.


    Some women like that attention all the time, and all women like that attention some of the time. Many women will take deliberate steps to INCREASE their sex appeal if they’re NOT getting that kind of attention.

    So there is an actual feminine demand for it. Please don’t tell me there isn’t, or that those women are insecure sluts. Everyone likes to feel desirable sometimes. We just don’t always get to pick who desires us, or when. Like the above guy said, it’s a gift and a curse. What would you rather – just the curse?

    And before you say “no fair, you’re a dude, you don’t understand the context of male socio-sexual dominance” – I do so. I have been hit on by gay men many times, and have gotten a glimpse of that menacing vibe.


    1. Gay guy looks me over in public – no problem. Calm the fuck down and ignore.

    2. Gay guy strikes up a conversation – also no problem as long as he keeps it polite and realizes no means no.

    3. Gay guys looks me over as I enter the mens’ room at the Port Authority – eeeuuuw, NOW we’re getting into uncomfortable territory.

    4. Gay guy checks my dick at the urinal – I’d punch him in the face if I weren’t scared of getting my ass kicked by a gay guy with his boner out. This is downright offensive and frightening, and goes far beyond what most women will typically experience from an ogling man.

    So yeah – I get it. Chill out and be thankful that you don’t have to share the locker room with your ogler.

  10. @kdji
    you need to chill out i guarantee if you see a hot guy walking down the street shirtless with a perfect body your gonna fuckin stare too it’s programed into everyone, men just more so then women we don’t try to ogle our eyes move as our dicks command that’s that way it goes we can try to hide it but it happens period changing clothes wont help nor will taking them off attractive people are cursed to be stared at and ogled it’s a gift and a curse get over it

  11. my best advice would be to find baggy clothes that are still comfortable as this has a doubled effect of covering up your assets but not making you look ugly many guys will still look but it will be a different kind of look more of questioning it makes guys curious as to what your trying to hide and if your body is as great as you say you will still be beautiful no matter what you wear and most guys dont know what to do when they see a beautiful woman so our dicks take over and they have no interest in the color of your eyes of course it’s rude and unacceptable and not everyone is gonna do it but some guys have worked hard to try to control it and others havent bothered

  12. So…what you’re saying…is that instead of suggesting that she has a right to wear what she wants and be free of harassment, men are “naturally inclined” to want to stare and she should wear a tent? Really? Guys, I really don’t think you’re giving yourselves any credit here. It is possible, in fact, for a man to be confronted with a good-looking woman and not make her uncomfortable by tripping over his own jaw as he walks past her. This is my advice: wear what you want. When you’re harassed or ogled, SAY SOMETHING! If it’s someone you know, level with them – tell them that you don’t feel respected as a human being when they treat you like that, and that you, just like them, are much more then just your body. If it’s a stranger harassing you on the street, ask him why he feels that it’s appropriate to address you in such a way – this always catches those creepy guys that yell at you not expecting a response off guard. Try to start a dialogue, because the real change involves the guys too. Once they begin to realize that it’s really not okay to treat any woman like that, maybe we can begin to create real change.

  13. Everyone’s comments are so frustrating. The problem with this ogling is that it sets up a very clear power dynamic between the man and the woman who wrote in–he feels like he has the “right” to stare at a woman and make her uncomfortable. For *centuries* there has been this issue of the male gaze (see: John Berger’s “The Way of Seeing.”) Women looking at men is NOT the same..it doesn’t set up a power dynamic because women *don’t* have power, a la society.

    As for what she wears?!? Give me a break!! If it’s hot, we wear less–men do, why can’t women? Oh, I’ll tell you why…because women are sexualized and objectified in every way..whether she’s wearing skimpy clothes or not. And guess what, boys? I’m *not* thinking about you looking at me when I get dressed in the morning. I’m thinking about what *I* like and what will be most comfortable for the type of day and weather. Do men *really* think we always dress for them?? How heterosexist, too.

    The problem is that men assert their masculinity and power when they ogle a woman. It makes some women feel vulnerable. It is not a nice feeling to have.

    p.s. I really hate how men act like they are the only ones think about what women are like in bed…women do it to men all the time. We are not all out for a boyfriend..just like some men are looking for a girlfriend.

    p.p.s. the distinction between the “relationship” woman and “hook-up” girl courtesy of Fred?? Disgusting. You should treat a woman the same, no matter what you’re looking for. I really hope I never run into these men in my lifetime…

  14. Ahem. There is a frigging difference between looking, even looking up and down, and ogling. Please don’t confuse this two things. It’s very annoying, if every discussion about appearance-based disrespect (ogling, catcalling, etc) is turned into something on the lines of “be glad about the attention, you will miss it later”.

    Attention to be glad about is polite and friendly. No one’s got a problem if the “first reaction [of men] would be sexual”, if the *behavior* is polite.
    And for the men who now will cry about having no clue how to behave like women are persons differentiate between looking and ogling: The difference between looking and staring starts at about 10 seconds. Looking includes the lookees face and eyes and isn’t limited to one or two body parts.

  15. Wait until they stop looking….then, if you are like a lot of women, you’ll wonder what happened.

    I hate to sound “Politically Incorrect” but I was “ogled” quite a bit as a younger woman. When I had kids, I started carrying myself, dressing myself and acting like I didn’t care. I was lost for a number of years. I was basically invisible to most men. It sucked.

    The last few years, I put the “care” back into my appearance and carriage, started wearing make up and carrying myself like I was worth being cared about and hell yeah, they look again.

    A glance isn’t disrespectful, IMO, it lets you know you’re alive.

    If you really, REALLY don’t want men to look at you. Dress like a refugee, walk with your head down and your eyes averted, frown, give off a “Get the f*&^ away from me, I don’t deserve it.” signal. Don’t carry yourself with Grace or the sense you feel entitled to anything. Believe me, it will stop the looks….and kill your self esteem.

    I prefer to look and act like a woman and not appear invisible. So, they look? It’s what men do. You can’t stop Nature. There are ways to get it to stop. You may not like the results, though.

    It’s up to you. If you act and dress like you don’t care, THEY won’t care. You are welcome to the lack of attention, if it’s really what you crave.

    I’d prefer to be among the living, the visible and the attractive.

    Sorry if this sounds mean, but, damn, MEN LOOK! If you are a good looking woman, you can either take care of yourself and enjoy the attention or NOT take care of yourself and slip into The Land of the Invisible. It’s up to you.

  16. On behalf of men everywhere let me say…oh hell, I don’t know what to say. Show me any normal heterosexual man and and I will show you someone who looks at just about any woman he sees in terms of her sexual desirability. He can’t help it; it’s hardwired. We’d look at the Prime Minister of Whatsitland and our first reaction would be sexual. We’ll vote or not vote for her depending on who she is…but our first reaction won’t be intellectual.

    Now, you certainly can expect not to be harassed,not to be ogled, and definitely not to be insulted…but we’re going to look. As politely as we can, but we’re going to. Would you prefer to live in a world with different rules?

    PS: We give you the right to ogle us…and don’t tell me I haven’t seen an awful lot of women doing an awful lot of ogling when an attractive male butt sashayed down the street.

  17. You can’t control what other people do. Even a modestly dressed woman with a great figure will get looked up and down. Just keep your head up, your eyes forward, and keep walking.

    Also, while it’s no doubt annoying to receive persistent unwanted attention, console yourself knowing that most people’s appearance-based issues are far less fun.

  18. I suggest (in the workplace) you dress well and conservatively, be aware of the signals you are sending through your presentation and manner and not compete to show more skin (or breast) than the other girls. Also, a non-nonsense professional attitude helps. Yes, people will still compliment you on your appearance and grooming, but they will also respect you and you will have an advantage over others. We have such a young woman in our workplace, she holds a very good position and NO ONE disrespects her! 🙂 Best wishes Candice

  19. There is nothing wrong being curvaceous with big boobs? as long as its natural. Your are a 100% woman. You are a woman who men will lust for, the way they would say on the streets hmmmmmmmmm hmmmmmmmm uuhh. This the kind of woman I like. So enjoy your curvaceous body. Eyes is use for seeing and beauty is well for being.

  20. It’s kind of just part of life at this point. It used to be far, far worse before sexual harassment laws were put in place; my mother remembers men calling out very vivid sexual slurs to her as she would cross the street.

    In some twisted way, it’s part of being a young female…there WILL be a day when you don’t catch young mens’ eyes at all! Something to look forward to as we age 🙂

    ps wearing a “tent” doesn’t really help – I still get catcalled when I’m in a big winter coat and sweatpants going to the gym. I’ve even gotten blatant call-outs from airport security guards as I walk through the metal detector in a t-shirt and jeans. As long as I don’t feel physically threatened, I just roll with it and go on with my day.

  21. I’m quite curvaceous myself, but I don’t feel like I’m constantly ogled in the streets. Might have something to do with the way I move. (According to my classmates I’m walking like John Wayne.)
    So try getting some heavy boots, letting yourself fall on your heels with every step, squaring your shoulders and moving them while walking. If you’re moving your shoulders you automatically will move your hips less. And hold your head high. Make clear the room around you belongs to YOU.
    It also might help to build up some strength at your local gym. If you’re feeling stronger – and that happens after a 3 to 4 weeks – you will move with more confidence. Especially a strong back will help with an proud and upright gait.

    Don’t try dressing in a tent. If you’re projecting that you’re trying to hide you won’t get more respect, I’m sure of that.

    @Tony Miller
    That “women know what they’re doing when they get dressed in the morning” line could come straight from the textbook of victim blaming. Will you tell her she’s asking for being ogled next?

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