by Ione Dellos
Here’s how getting stared at on the beach usually happens for me: I’ll be minding my business at the beach, neither having a good time or a bad time, just a time. I get the familiar feeling that I’m being stared at, and after a quick look around, there it is, an ogling pair of eyes looking me over. Just because I’m wearing a bikini to the beach does not mean that I am inviting any sort of negative attention. I am wearing this bikini to the beach because I thought it was cute when I bought it. Now, I am no longer having a time, but a bad time, all because some man couldn’t keep his eyes anywhere else but my body.
I shouldn’t have to flip off and swear at men just to get them to leave me alone at the beach. I will not fight for scraps of respect but expect it paid in full. My body and gender don’t make me less than, and they don’t make me an object either.
Not counting the fact that ogling random strangers is incredibly rude, you never know what’s going on in someone’s mind. This could be their first time wearing a bikini on the beach in a long time, or they could simply be wearing it because they bought it and want to get their money’s worth. They could have insecurities about their body that can be exaggerated by excessive staring, or maybe they just don’t like getting stared at (like most sane individuals).
Despite being attracted to women, I can comfortably go to the beach without ogling women with no effort on my part. Believe it or not, not staring at women on the beach is incredibly easy! As a gay woman who grew up with gym locker rooms and camp changing rooms, I snapped my eyes away every time my friends would get changed, and I was terrified to even go in a Victoria’s Secret for the longest time. I know I have a different relationship with how I view women than your typical straight man with male pattern baldness. Also, as someone who possesses a body that gets stared at frequently, I know what it’s like to be stared at. I don’t like to do it to other people.
When spring break rolls around this semester, straight men, find it in your hearts to not obviously stare at every woman wearing a bikini at the beach (eyes on the road, please). There is a whole world of gender identity behind the pair of boobs you’re ogling, and every feminine-presenting person isn’t necessarily feeling feminine on the inside. If you find that you just have to choose objectifying women over all other activities, then do the women in your life a favor and don’t hit the beaches this spring.