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.

The New York Times reported on a series of studies that might shed some light on the matter.

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.

Popular Posts on BroadBlogs
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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 15, 2011, in gender, men, objectification, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I think it is natural for individuals to “people watch”. Would it make a woman any more jealous if her partner were to continue to stare at simply anyone for too long? Or to be more specific, a woman that may not be his type or may not fit the “sexy” bill, so to speak. Would it then be less offensive? And not ogling? Women and men both check out the opposite sex and the same sex. I think it is common enough that, although sometimes we may have feelings of intimidation, we do ultimately appreciate a pretty face to look at!


  3. I am a pretty lucky girl. I must say that my boyfriend isn’t what people say a “normal guy.” Even when we first started dating (5 years ago, in high school) he wasn’t a pig or a perverted teenager. He was very shy and I was the first girl he had ever dated. His friends joked that before he dated me, they thought he might be gay (not really gay but that was their way of making fun of him for being a senior in high school and had never had a date or a girlfriend). Even as time passed, he was respectful and he would be disgusted at girls dressed sexy and showing cleavage. He would look, but not ogle, and be the first to comment and say that she should put some clothes on or cover up. Even I am more tolerant to how some girl dress and have to tell him to relax. It’s really funny. And then I have the other man in my life, my dad, who (so I was told) was a ladies man in high school. He still has that arrogance sometimes, even after being married to my mom for 26 years. She rolls her eyes and calls him a pig but she knows that he would never cheat on her and that she has him for life. No ogling will change that. So if I ever catch my boyfriend ogling or if he even ever does it, I don’t think I’d really care knowing that he loves me and that just a look isn’t cheating.

    • Thank you for your comment. When I surveyed women in 2 of my classes, those who disliked ogling were rarely concerned he’d cheat. They felt it was rude for his attention to be dwelling elsewhere and often didn’t like feeling like he found other women more attractive than them.

  4. I understand men ogling women. Women have a certain power over men that many may not realize. I have found myself “ogling” women plenty of times. I feel if i like it, i like it. What can you do? I have also noticed women ogling me as well. Now if i were with my girl i would not ogle anyone except her. I feel that is disrespectful to my lady and thats not something i do. Otherwise yes i will ogle. It is hard not to do especially when a women is wearing revealing clothing. Isn’t that why they wear the clothes to show off their body? Are they wanting to show off their body and not wanting anyone to look? If so, that is just a tease. Sexual nature almost forces a man who is heterosexual to be attracted to women he finds sexy, or pretty. We (men) cannot always turn the other cheek if we see something that sparks our interest. I try not to creepy stare but i do look once, or twice. Women know when they are dressed for ogling and therefore should not be upset if they catch a man looking at any body part that is exposed. Again a man that ogles while he is with his lady should be ashamed. It is not only disrespectful to his girl but it may also make the other women feel uncomfortable, or even superior to his girlfriend. If i were his girlfriend i would be highly upset with him, wondering if im not good enough or if i need enhancements of some sort. This may even lead to an argument that is well justified by the girl who’s guy is ogling. As i said before I will never even look at a girl if im with my girl, but yes i will if i am alone and the girl is something i like.

    • You contradict yourself. So a man should not do shameful behavior (ogling) when he is with his lady, but when he is not with her then he should do the same shameful behavior???? How does him not being with his lady make the ogling less shameful??? It is still disrespectful and dishonest behavior to be getting your dick hard over lusting after other women whether or not your lady is around. What difference does it make whether or not your lady is around if you are wanting to shag other women in your mind???? That’s stupid.

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