Ogling: Boys Will Be Boys?

Boys will be boys?

Boys will be boys?

“Boys will be boys,” said one third of the women who answered my survey on ogling.

The survey 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 male sexuality 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.

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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 December 30, 2015, in men, objectification, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. This is a very interesting article. Who know women were less attractive when ovulating! This study is very interesting but like others have said in the comments, a man in a relationship may simply look away out of respect for their partner, or some other reason. In my opinion, looking at a very attractive person is completely normal, it is alright to be able to acknowledge a good looking person and be honest about it. Gawking on the other hand is a whole different situation. I once dated a guy that would deny looking at another girl when I clearly saw him. I would be perfectly okay with it, if he admired a feature about her and told me, but him denying the fact that he was even looking at her tells me that it wasn’t in an admiration kind of way. Personally I look will look at an attractive person of the opposite sex and acknowledge that they are attractive and to me this seems natural and not only a male thing. This also has it limits too. A man or women staring at someone in a more sexual way is very rude and can be offensive, especially if one is in a relationship, but this “boys will be boys” phrase is just ridiculous and justifies for males bad mannered actions.

  2. I enjoyed reading your blog post about, “boys will be boys.” It made me stop and think, maybe men are hard wired to stop and stare at women who are very attractive? Not according to your blog about “boys will boys.” I found it very interesting that research by Florida State, has shown that males are intimidated by an attractive female if they are in a relationship. This really shows that the majority of males are very protective of what they have in a relationship, and they turn a blind eye to the forbidden fruit on many occasions. I enjoyed your blog post and looking forward to reading more. Thanks

  3. But I’m wondering why you keep bringing this up? Is there some particular thing that you wish would change?”

    I brought it up, because I mean look how sexy that woman’s body and you see women at the gym like that and how alluring and sexy their bodies are and how it captures men’s lust. And how a man loves it, but hates it at the sametime. Like how that dude in the video was rejected, I know it’s for comedy, but like it feels demoralizinng. Like men may not be self conscious like women are, but men have things to think about with their bodies in a different way. If women don’t feel good about their bodies, men don’t feel anything, because many men don’t have much “esteem” of their bodies sexually as in their appeal to women. And the few guys who think they are hot stuff, either aren’t or are the rare 1% or so who have the perfect body and looks that women come on to them with. It’s nothing that can be changed, it’s just how things always have been.

    I guess it’s just a reminder of how unbalanced the lust is and it’s already known but sometimes it’s really just in your face and mind when you see examples like this. You think about that man and how it’s easy to feel that way too about your body or just how you’re mesmerized, and yet you’re body especially if not in top shape and even if so, may be attractive, but it just seems invisible pretty much and worthless. It’s nice to feel wanted and desired and that you’re body is capturing that lust and she wants you and it’s effecting her, but that usually isn’t so and on top of that, more often just an afterthought while you’re thinking how amazing that particular woman’s body is and how it captures a man’s lust. It’s easy to to think “how unprovoking and unappealing is my or the male body in comparison?” Easy to feel like you’re body is “grizzle” ha. Want changed? It would be nice, though it’s just not the reality with how things work with women, we already know this, but that women were lustful and captured by men’s bodies they see at the gym and how they want his body on their body sometimes. But that seems rare. Sure they will glance and find some men’s bodies attractive, but nothing more usually and lucky for them they don’t have to be teased and sexually frustrated becaue our bodies aren’t causing lust and nothing to see.

  4. Roberto Iraheta

    Could it be that men unconsciously have an idea that the women is ovulating and from their experience since they are married or in a relationship can somehow sense that and everything with relation to that time of the month for example the mood swings, the low self steam or the woman uncomfortable feelings making the man in relationship feel less attractive to them??

    As far as staring at someone attractive goes I feel that some man tent to look away at either at a image or a person as part of respect for their partner and not so much as a temptation.

    • I’m sure that the reason that many men look away is out of respect for their partner, And not so much because it’s all a big temptation.

      On the other point, we have this idea that women have big mood swings around their period, but not around ovulation. But, a study was done where they asked women to write down their feelings over the course of several weeks. They didn’t say that it had anything to do with a study of PMS. In the and only about 20% had the mood swings.

  5. On the other hand, It’s depressing sometimes, because you think of the average guy, not the 20% who are getting girls left and right, but the very average guys. And you just think of that, I mean you see women and their bodies at the gym and like this clip and the sweat and how sexy and her boobs looked and like lust and thoughts that can cross a man’s mind, only to know she doesn’t want anything to do with him, she;s not looking at him. I guess the very strong allure of women’s bodies and the lust it can cause and effect and in the same instance how demoralizing it can be having that and it’s not even close to reciprocated. Can sure feel like a putz thinking about that. I know girls do look and admire, I’m in decent shape and haven’t gotten looks sometimes, and it’s nice. But then I think of how sometimes I and most men will see a girl and her body does create some lustful thoughts.

    This doesn’t always happen atleast not for me, I don’t want it to see that way. Many times its just liking what I see and then moving on. But it can and does happen. but thinking about that how her body essentially, not literally causing “blue balls” for a man or you and maybe she checked out your body, but I doubt she’s holding off lust or even thinking much or anything lustful about your body. Probably an admiring and then off to non sexual thoughts and whatever. God that’s gotta be nice to not be ovetaken by lust and to be attracted to the sex (men) with the less appealing bodies. It makes sex fun having this visual desire, but it can be a burden too when not getting it much or regulalry too for a man. It’s disheartening, you see that dude in the clip and you think of yourself and other men. If to make a comparision, filet mignon or prime rib vs grizzle lol. Seriously, you see her body and others and then you see that man and youself. Seriously us men our bodies are like the scraps or grizzle if sexy women are prime rib ha. Eh…demoralzing.. You see that woman’s body like in the video and think of irl at the gym and then what that dude felt or like the difference and you look at your body thinking how unlust worthy it is in comparison and unprovoking when you really wish so, but it’s just inferior built.

    • I’m not sure how many women that 20% is getting, anyway. Where does that stat come from? Most women want emotional connection, not just a hot bod. Women can be concerned for safety so avoid trysts with strangers. Plus, fears of slut-shaming. In some ways women are protected by sexual punishment and repression. In other ways it’s very hard on us.

      The data I’ve seen suggests that men think that other men are having way more sex than they are. But that no one is actually having all that much sex — at least not in comparison to what people believe.

      • Well I know guys who have. It may not be every week they have a girl or girlfriend or even doing that. But in early 20s had a time or in highschool with a bunch of gfs and such.20 is a decent number of sexual partners. And yet you don’t have to be all that promiscious to get up to that number by the time you’re in your mid 20s or older. If you think about it, most guys and girls lose their virginity in highschool, and probably between 15-17. So say a boy has sex first time at 16. then next year just has one gf at 17, and then each year just two gfs a year or fwb, whatever. That’s just two for the whole year. Well by the time at only 26 he’d have 20 partners right, as that’s ten years and two per year. You say not that many in college, but can’t the overall number be higher even if not that much sex in college? Like these men being surveyed and the stats you show with college counting the average. Well what about highschool? If these boys had a good number of sex in highschool then maybe they didn’t have interest as much as for flings in college, but their number might be higher if counting their experience in highschool which might’ve been more sex partners than college and you add the two.

        “Most women want emotional connection, not just a hot bod.”

        They might, but yet, and probably why some guys get frustrated with women even though it’s women’s choices to do what they want. Is that some of the following happens. These men get sex, because maybe they are players and deceive, well that sucks for the women these jerks tricked them. Usually guys aren’t upset about women having sex with these guys if the guys deceived them. But what also happens, and what can frustrate guys is women can be all about the emotional connection, but then make “exceptions”.

        A girl can want an emotional connection anfd relationships and put guys through the wire where they don’t show attraction to guys or hold off and go on dates or whatever. But then they’ll come across one particular guy one night, who is hot, and maybe bad boy or something and they just are digging this guy. They meet from maybe a party or social event with other friends and drink and have fun and next thing you know that girl sneaks away and have sex with the guy in a bus limo that friend and crew rode on to the football game and the rest are still watchign at stadium while said girl snuck off with dude back to bus and had fun there. The next weeks following and probably most of the year, that same girl goes back to this dating emotional connection. So this dude got “rewarded” while the other guys who want the sex and not feel like a jerk, and want what he got, they can;t because them doing so they’d be a jerk. But she just fucked him and was fine with it. So it’s frustrating for guys when they see exceptions made that isn;t them. That’s not always for the male ego, esecially when you think truly that you are better, more charming and more attractive than said guy. Girls can say they are not into no commital, no strings sex and go that way for most part, but then break off for a brief moment and why some of these men do add up in sex partners because they are the “exceptions” during that time so they add up in #S, while the rest of the guys aren;t the exception.

      • Maybe some guys do have sex with a lot of women, But they are usually men who who have an extremely high tolerance for rejection. They ask thousands of women to get a few to sleep with them.

        Meanwhile, guys also exaggerate and myths and media make it look like men are getting a lot more sex than the vast majority of real men really are.

        I saw some statistics in a book researching premarital sex in America among 20-year-olds. “premarital sex in America” and they said that Women with the lowest self-esteem have the most sex — they were using sex to feel attractive and loved. But men with the highest self-esteem also had the most sex — their self-esteem was so high that they could take a tremendous amount of rejection and not take it personally. I have a friend like that. He’s not that great-looking, but he is incessant. Rejection doesn’t bother him much at all. I keep rejecting him and he keeps on trying. When I’m around him he is constantly hitting on women, usually unsuccessfully. But it never make him feel bad about himself.

        The thing is that Women get punished for being sexual, and because of rape Women learn to be fearful of men. So even the good-looking guys don’t necessarily get a lot of random sex.

        But if the guy is super good-looking and the woman has reason to believe he’s nonviolent, he may well get a lot of girls, partly because the girls feel so complemented that he likes her. And also because he’s hot. A good example would be Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Super hot and no reports of violence against women.

        But I’m wondering why you keep bringing this up? Is there some particular thing that you wish would change?

  6. I hope I didn’t write too long if I did for this last post, I’ll edit and shrink it. Just let me know please.

  7. I think this would be an example of gawking, from the white beater dude in this clip. I’m showing this, because I thought it was funny and I can watch things that may mock something as in an exaggeration which parodies usually do. It’s exaggerated and in a stereotypical view, but I liked the narration I thought it was funny and how there is some truth to the gym life, being a person who works out. Though I have to say, most of the time, it’s just men and women just doing their thing and working out like me. But I’ve come across just about all other such guys and women.

    btw happy new year

    • At the least, satire can be revealing of how people see things. So it’s interesting that way. Thanks.

      Happy new year to you!

      • thanks. Yeah, most often, I and many I see workout are just doing their their thing and don’t bother each other. Though, I believe I have seen or come across some similar variants of the people shown in the video, though it’s obviously exaggerated for humor purposes. Though, yes the chest pounding male strutting around, I’ve seen, as well as the obnoxiously loud grunint dude lifting weights that he can’t lift or acting like it’s more than they are. And yes to the teenage boys, though it’s exaggerated. I liked the monkey sound effects with the dudes benching ha. I’m going to have to say this is for america one day when pushing up a heavy weight ha. The older men part unfortunately has truth.

        Having worked at a fitness center and getting towels in the men’s health club, this is too much toward the truth. Nothing like seeing old, fat, hairy dudes just standing around naked, everywhere and just talking and never bothering to cover up. Some posing as I call in the captain morgan pose. I find it interesting when talking to women, is that women in health clubs don’t walk around naked around each other in health clubs,often and are usually covered to some extent and like more discreet. It’s weird, because I always figured women would be more nude around each other because women are less homophobic than men, so I thought if anything women would be more find being nude around each other. But from women and girls when talking about it, say they usually have a towel around themselves whereas for guys or the old guys they just go balls out ha. I’m thinking it must be out of self consciousness that women covered up in front of each other compared to men. Maybe not wanting to be sized up or feeling bad seeing the other prettier woman’s body and not wanting to show her “flaws” in comparison and men don’t really care how each other look so more likely to just be fine being naked?

      • Yes, I was surprised to hear that guys walked around locker rooms naked. Not sure why there is a difference. Could be that women’s bodies are more scrutinized and judged. And women’s bodies are more sexualized, so women are taught to be more modest?

  8. Good information. Most men will notice an attractive woman, and they might look a second time naturally. But ogling is different and seems more deliberate.

  9. Your insights are very noteworthy. There is much to learn from them 🙂

  10. I had no clue ovulating made us more or less desirable. Fascinating!

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