Men have always been at an evolutionary disadvantage. Early man popped onto earth fitted with a small brain and lice-friendly condominiums all over his body. Things were simple though. Early men focused on four things. He killed, ate, scratched and when faced with women, stared. Things have not changed much other than a decrease in hair over the body. The Indian superstar Anil Kapoor has taken that last bit all for himself.
Which is a problem. Not the hairy part. There are quick, easy, painful solutions for that. No, men are still mostly simple creatures. Our minds get locked down by simple visuals. Football. Oranges. Car wheels. Breasts. There may be a pattern there.
That presents a problem. Many of my female friends, colleagues and the wife have complained that men stare “badly” enough to make them uncomfortable. That implies there is a right way to look. The difference is quite simple. The right way to look is to look, appreciate, turn away, all within the lifespan of an expensive Shab-e-Barat firecracker. But many men are bombarded by different information from old Hindi movies and current Bangla movies. These suggest the appreciation stage go on a little longer than the unwritten standard of three seconds or less. The aforementioned movies have a more relaxed timeframe stretching from a three-minute song to five days at a stretch till the lady falls in love.
I have learned the hard way that movies are not always telling the truth. You cannot wax on and wax off like The Karate Kid and become a black belt kung-fu expert. I waxed my cars enough times to have learned kung-fu, jujitsu and other self-defence techniques ending in 'oo'. Reality works differently. You look at a girl long enough, and she will notice. Women are generally smart and perceptive give or take a few (all) Kardashians. They know when you are staring.
Staring at a woman is fine when she is holding a name card at an airport possibly spelling your name. Not so much at the workplace where people just want to go back home. As mentioned earlier, most men’s brains are locked by simple visuals. A woman's face in comparison often has too much going on. There are words forming in conjunction with other words. So these men (mind you, not all men) look elsewhere. They have to. Their brain cannot take all those inputs. If you're a tall woman or if the man is sitting down looking up, you know what I mean. As society would have it, it is up to the women to save the day. Solution? The women can hold a book or a magazine up to their chest when they go to talk to such simple-minded men. When women talk, and the men's gaze travel downward, open the magazine at chest height and let them read. Studies have shown educated men can often look women in the eye and hold a conversation. Other times, in an office, just carry a work presentation at chest height. Women will be assured that their project is seen and reviewed. Or hold it over the buttocks while walking past.
Is there anything the men can do? Yes. It is a fine line between noticing a woman and letting your tongue hang out long enough to act like a leash. And how do you stare in a way no woman will ever mind? You become Thor. Or Wolverine. Women I know say they would be happy to have Chris Hemsworth or Hugh Jackman stare at them ALL DAY. But these men will not do that because they know how to respect women. That is simply by being a man, a phrase that is muddled and gone vaguely out of style. Being a man means letting the other person be comfortable and you cannot do that with your tongue hanging out. Unless you are a dog. Most people love dogs.
Ehsanur Raza Ronny is a confused dad, all-round car guy, model car builder, and cartoonist. He is also Editor of Shift (automobiles), Bytes (technology), and Next Step (career) of The Daily Star.