Scott Russell Sanders’ essay Looking at women

Men have always had a notable way in which they respond to the presence of a woman. The most universal is to stop what they were doing to stare at the woman and more-so if she happens to have above average looks. Some psychological scholars would rather blame these responses on genetics while those following the feminist school of thoughts would take to the streets and protest this objectification of women.

This essay seeks to analyze an essay by one of the most prolific writers especially on the issue of men’s perception of women. An analysis of the reasons given by the author for such shall be provided and then a summary of whether he succeeded in his goal shall follow.

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Scott Russell Sanders’ essay Looking at women is basically modeled around his childhood experiences. This essay generally illustrates how men perceive women and the role which women play in society. In developing the plot of his essay, sanders explains incidences from his childhood particularly his first encounter with the opposite gender.

Sanders’ essay is targeted mostly at men and it serves as a guide to how men should treat women. In addition, he also seeks to find out why women do certain things which are clearly provocative to men and then start complaining when men react to the stimulus on impulse.

He is generally against the treatment of women as objects by men. What emerges from our different cultural upbringing and experiences subconsciously form our opinions and dictate the view we make of people at a moment’s glance. He claims that men will not change their characters even if they wanted to since it is in their nature to appreciate a beautiful woman.

“As long as men have eyes, they will gaze with yearningand confusion at women” (Pg 257). These are the exact words that Sanders uses to describe the reaction that men always have towards beautiful women. As the essay progresses, he repeatedly, draws examples to justify why men should not be judged on their impulsive reactions towards women.

At one point Sanders describes men as swains, and goes ahead to claim that they (men) are more often than not ignorant by refusing to acknowledge their true feelings towards women. By ignorance, Sanders implies the notion of the men appearing helpless when faced with the challenge of directly approaching a woman who has appealed to their interests.

Gawking may or may not be genetic and most individuals would rather assume it is a psychological reflex. It is also debatable whether the upbringing of an individual has any influence on the reaction that he would have whenever a woman passes infront of him. These subconscious thoughts can appear due to culture, ethics, or temptation.

In some sense, it can be argued that women have this basic natural instinct to act differently when they are in the presence of men. For instance, when a woman walks past a group of men, she will almost impulsively change her walking style to make it more strutty and refined. Men on their part will in most instances gaze at a woman, if she gives them reason to.

Sanders says that he had never seen ogling taking the place of sports until he visited Rome. He cites examples from the theory of Darwinism and samples the importance of DNA in illustrating that culture alongside genetics has a well defined role in shaping the opinions of men on women. He goes ahead to call for a “revolution”, targeted towards a shift in the line of thought especially for men.

Quoting Simone de Beauvoir in his essay The Second Sex, Saunders suggests that it is an inherent characteristic for women to spend their lives trying to get the attention of men. He sees this is as a mystery which is nowhere near being solved. He explains that men are naturally distracted by the sight of a woman’s body because of their innate “need” to pass their genetic material to the next generation.

Sanders to a very large extent succeeds in explaining the reasons as to why men respond in particular ways whenever they are in the presence of a woman. The only part where he fails is when he gets off trying to justify some of the responses that man have and trying to conclude that these are characteristics that men are born with. It is pretty evident that men with a proper upbringing will know how to properly treat a woman.

Gawking and whistling at the sight of all beautiful women is unacceptable and this is one area that Sanders fails to address effectively. In fact, he seems to suggest that it is in the nature of women to impress all men irrespective of their (the men’s) social standings. In a way, he suggests that when a lady passes by a group of construction men and they all resort to staring at her and whistling as she passes by, the blame should fall squarely on the woman for “just being a woman.”


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