Joy Behar on “The View” is having a moment. She’s so fed up with leering men that she’s now reduced to yelling, “Stop looking at us!” She repeats the same line to emphasize that she really and truly does not want to be looked at anymore.
Women across the globe may be frustrated in the same way. The frustration is reaching its boiling point, and so now stories of inappropriate, criminal, and just all-around sleazy behavior are bubbling to the surface. From Harvey Weinstein to Kevin Spacey to Ben Affleck, the inexcusable sordid actions of Hollywood’s powerful men are empowering other women from other industries to come forward with their own stories of sexual abuse.
What About You?
You might not have encounters with men the likes of mega predator Weinstein or his kind-of local version Baron Geisler, but you may have run into a few unsavory characters at bars, clubs, or parties. Most sleazy men will take advantage of crowds, minimal lighting, maximum noise — any environment that can make him claim: “You’re mistaken. I didn’t grab your ass.”
Here’s where it gets tricky for women to find a voice and speak up. Even if you consider yourself to be the outspoken type, there will still be some part of you that may think twice about calling out sleazy behavior. Doing this isn’t as easy as a predator spotting his victim; we wish we could have that power in which infrared vision activates, alerting us which guy at a social event is likely to be a lowlife.
Unfortunately, sleazy men don’t have that one look; although, when I spot a loudmouthed guy in a shirt that’s too tight for him and his phone blares out club music, I steer clear—especially if it’s at work. This lowlife oozes entitlement, and that is a hop, skip, and a jump from someone who’s going to get too liberal with his comments or get handsy because he’s got some “permit” to your body. That entitlement will reach its peak if this lowlife climbs up the corporate ladder.
Instead, we’ll have to hone our super intuition, or perv radar, to stop the sleazy behavior in its tracks.
The Red Flags
Multiple research papers indicate that predators, sexual harassers — pervs, share personality traits. Here are three you’ll want to spot at work or events:
The Dark Triad
It’s a dark concoction of narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism in men and women. Although researchers didn’t conclude that these traits led to sexual harassment, other variables may influence sleazy behavior. Most men and women with this trait will use it to cheat on their partners, to poach a mate, or sexually coerce someone.
It’s the “Oh, I thought you wanted it.” Whatever “it” is, this person tends to be in a powerful position and uses that leverage to act on a whim. Sleazy behavior will include making comments about your body, making inappropriate jokes — when no one calls them out on their behavior; they will continue, thinking, “Hey, you love it!” or “I’m giving you a compliment” even if you’re obviously uncomfortable with it.
A research called “Of Animals and Objects: Men’s Implicit Dehumanization of Women and Likelihood of Sexual Aggression” reveals that men who show this behavior automatically relate women to objects or animals. They are also dangerous in that they’re likely to sexually victimize women. This type of behavior can come out as an innuendo, derogatory remark, groping, and the like.
Lowlifes are everywhere, which means the likelihood of ALL WOMEN going through unwanted attention, comments, and touching is probable.
It happens on the streets with catcalling, wolf whistling, and leering.
It happens in the world’s shittiest train with the touching and the brushing.
It happens on TV with sleazy old hosts making lewd comments.
It happens—and I can’t believe we allow this — in Malacañang with the “president” whistling at a reporter, citing “freedom of expression.”
At the heart of it, actions from sleazy men are unwelcome. Overall, they are malicious, lewd, offensive—making you want to shower vigorously afterwards, or rip the guy a new one (I personally prefer the latter). In its severe form, this unwanted behavior means someone is exercising power over you.
No one has power over you, except whatever higher being you believe in. So when some perv sidles up to you, thinking he’s entitled to your body and your attention, exercise your power and show him a proper response.
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Joy has been a vegan for over 20 years. She's done a wide range of stories for magazines, from music and movies to business and culture matters. She continues to write professionally to this day — like, right this very minute.