Ogling: Boys Will Be Boys?
“Boys will be boys,” suggested one third of the women who answered my survey on ogling, which asked why some men stare at women’s body parts. Most of these women said their partner’s lingering eyes bothered them at least a little. But if men are “just that way,” maybe they’re less annoyed?
Is it true? Does the male sex drive include an imperative to stare at breasts and bottoms?
Maybe not. Only half of the women I surveyed had dated these distracted lovers. Others said they would be offended if their significant other behaved that way. I never experienced an ogling boyfriend, myself, until my last semester in college.
No. They don’t all do it.
I’m not saying non-oglers never notice feminine charms. Just not in the staring mode that so many of us find rude.
In one, Florida State University men were asked to assemble a puzzle of Lego blocks. A 21-year-old woman was asked to assist. She wore jeans, a T-shirt, a ponytail and no makeup. Flirting was off limits and she kept eye contact and conversation to a minimum.
Later, the men rated her attractiveness. Single men found her most attractive at the fertile stage of her menstrual cycle, a finding replicated in other studies. Lap dancers, for
instance, get higher tips that time of the month.
But men in relationships found her least attractive while ovulating. Why?
They were relationship guarding. It seems they unconsciously saw the young assistant as more threatening to their relationships when she was most attractive. To resist temptation, they told themselves, “She’s not that hot.”
Another Florida State study found a similar phenomenon. After words like “lust” or “kiss” were quickly flashed, men and women were shown a sequence of photographs and images. Singles gazed longer at attractive pictures of the opposite sex, and they lingered when asked to look at new images.
But those in relationships behaved differently. They looked more quickly away from attractive faces, using subtle mechanisms to rein in a wandering eye. As if to say, “Tempt me not!”
On the other hand, when University of Kentucky researchers made it difficult to focus on good-looking faces, people tried harder to see the forbidden fruit. And afterward, they felt less satisfied with their partners and found cheating more appealing.
Or as Dr. Maner, the lead researcher put it, “We shouldn’t want our partner to be looking at lots of other people, because that’s bad for the relationship. At the same time,” he continued, “preventing them from looking doesn’t help either, and can backfire.”
Self-policing works. Policing your mate may not.
Ogling is not simply a “boys will be boys” phenomenon. Many men are more centered on relationship-guarding than eyeballing the curves that pass by.
Posted on August 15, 2011, in gender, men, objectification, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged gender, men, men's health, objectification, ogling, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, sexuality, women. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.