Photo: Courtesy of Touchstone PicturesAlexandra Owens, Allure magazine
As anyone who has ever walked past a construction site knows, men often seem to think that women welcome comments about their appearance. And lately, it seems like women are speaking up more and more about the fact that we really don't need to hear the subconscious streaming about our legs, skirts, breasts, makeup, or anything else.
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The dialogue has ranged from the truly upsetting to the mildly irritating, like Jezebel's spot-on post, "Don't You Dare Ask Me Why I Look Mad." Judging by the number of comments and Tweets the post stirred up, it seems like a lot of us can relate to the gross, infuriating feeling of having a stranger stare us down and critique our expression or face. It suggests, "You're not good or pretty enough when you don't meet my criteria"-and assumes that we care about meeting those criteria in the first place.
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As much as that behavior is maddening, the latest public example of men making uninvited comments on a woman's appearance is truly outrageous. In France on Tuesday, some members of Parliament whistled at and called out to French housing minister Cecile Duflot as she walked up to deliver a speech on a new city plan. Sexual harassment is terrible enough, but this happened to a woman making an official presentation in a government building, and the hecklers were elected officials. And just when you thought this was 2012, one of the men, Patrick Balkany, tried to nonchalantly pass the whole thing off as, "But why wasn't she flattered?" "We weren't heckling or whistling at Cecile Duflot, we were admiring her," he later told a reporter. And it's not the first time something like this has happened. Last year, former French sports minister Chantal Jouanno told The Washington Times that her colleagues would whistle at her whenever she addressed them wearing a skirt. What?!
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It should go without saying that this behavior is just wrong-appearance has nothing to do with the job these women are there to do, and treating them like it does is obnoxious. And here's a tip, guys: Women often choose a dress or lipstick because it makes them feel good-not to elicit attention from every man they pass.