June 7, 2007

When men "leer" at their own wives...

... at what point do we have a problem with it? Dr. Helen scoffs at at the people who complain about the way Fred Thompson looks at his voluptuous wife:
[T]here are many ... women who feel that unless one is Bill Clinton or the object of their own lecherous desires (of course, for these women, their own desire is called empowerment--not lechery!), a regular joe has no right to look at a woman--not even in pictures--with desire in his heart. In their eagar quest to control men's sexual rights, some "feminist" women (and other prudish ones too!) go to extremes to shame, expose or intimidate men who let their lust for women dare come to the surface. ...

[M]en have a right to sexual expression just as women do and leering or even an interest in porn is not a crime--but if some women have their way, it soon may be. So, I say to you men out there who believe in your right to sexual freedom, stand up for your right to leer--or it may soon be a thing of the past.
Well, now this goes beyond the problem of men leering at their own wives, and it also leans heavily on the idea of rights. If we're talking rights, surely, we've also got a right to express contempt for men who boorishly exhibit their sexual feelings in public. People need to learn manners -- even if bad manners aren't a crime. The word "leer" is useful: It lets you know there's a line you will be judged by. Learn where it is or suffer the consequences -- which don't include prison, just contempt and rejection... unless you've got a special way about you, which you probably don't if you're reading this and not off somewhere enjoying the benefits of flouting society's norms.

This connects for me to the discussion going on over in the comments to my profile at Politico, which refers to a line I crossed, not in person, but in writing, saying something that many people would think but not say looking at a picture of a woman. One commenter brings up the old line: If women knew what men were thinking, they'd never stop slapping us. I'm not a man. I don't know. But I've heard. It seems to me that you may have the right to leer, but as with many other rights, you'd better be careful how and when you choose to exercise it, if you want to get along well in life. Go ahead and cross a line -- I did -- but know what you're doing and do it for a good reason. (I did.)

But back to Fred Thompson. He's leering at his own wife. Does that make it okay? Well, there are lots of things you can do with your wife that people don't want to see in public. But what are people seeing with Fred Thompson? He doesn't stare at her breasts, does he? More likely, you're staring at her breasts, and then you're looking at him -- egad! he's older! -- and you're projecting your own feelings on to his face -- including, perhaps, the feeling that you don't want him to be President. You can still insult him. Go ahead! Just know what you're doing.

86 comments:

Too Cool for School said...

As an overarching observation, the poster to which Dr. Helen refers (and, by implication, her commentary) reads a lot into that picture. I mean, it's a middle aged white guy with a happy look on his face. For all we know, he was thinking about golf.

But lets assume, for the sake of argument, that he was in fact leering. And lets give the situation context: Scarborough regards her as a trophy. (I don't think that reasonable minds can differ on this point based on the transcript.) People can draw their own conclusions about how Thompson regards her based on his age, status, etc.

Back to the leering issue. I would argue that feminism doesn't preclude male expressions of desire. So I would disagree with the conclusions drawn by the poster to which Dr. Helen refers. The problem is the inference (accurate or not) that Thompson disposed of his first wife because she wasn't perky enough, and followed the middle-aged white guy clichee of marrying a trophy wife.

hdhouse said...

leer meaning what? a married couple is in pretty good shape i think if the male looks real good to the wife and the female is the object of desire to the male.

past that, isn't it a matter of degree?

with fred, well...the entire matter makes me a little sick to my stomach...

Troy said...

Do you really think that Thompson's look in the photo on Helen's blog is "leering"? You have an impossibly high standard for visual propriety if so.

He is 100% NOT leering in the picture on Dr Helen's blog. If he were Shaq he may be able to look down her dress from where he is standing. She made a comment over her shoulder to him and he is actually doing the polite thing... looking at his wife while talking to her. It is possible to look at one's beautiful spouse with desire, longing, etc. without "leering".

It's difficult enough in today's thonged out tummy shirt hip hugging world to be respectable without out even the most normal innocent glance being labeled "leering" -- especially towards one's wife -- the one at whom he should be looking.

George said...

Go to the WaPo. website and enlarge the photo....

He is staring at his wife's eyes and smiling.

Give me a break.

How pathetic and ridiculous.

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm tired of people calling Thompson's wife a trophy just because she's attractive. I thought trophies were supposed to be silly women with little to offer beyond their attractiveness, and Jeri Kehn doesn't fit that bill.

As for the leering: I don't think Thompson is leering at his wife in that picture, but even if he were, I'm not bothered by husbands and wives leering at each other. Marriage should guarantee leering rights.

The Drill SGT said...

I guess if she had been looking at him, it would have been called "adoring"

SteveR said...

First off a "leer" requires a time dimension, and a snap shot can be misleading. Second I don't think a leer can apply to a husband unless its ridiculously overdone.

Third, men will notice (leer at, lust after, talk about) women and they are often quite stupid about it, right Joe?

The Drill SGT said...

George is right. He's gazing at her eyes, adoringly :)

Fen said...

I guess if she had been looking at him, it would have been called "adoring"

To be more precise, it would be called "adoring" if Thompson was a democrat.

Fen said...

Third, men will notice (leer at, lust after, talk about) women and they are often quite stupid about it, right Joe?

But I still don't get that. Last week I was walking out of a restaurant and some college girl came across my path from the neighboring apartments. She's a D cup with no bra, bouncing around in a flimsy top that barely came up over her nipple area. So of course I stared at her.

Her [sarcastic] response: "Hope you got a good look jerk"

Me: "Yah, thanks for the show"

TM Lutas said...

It strikes me that commentary like this will (or already has) generated the following moment. Some campaign flunky quietly going up to Mrs. Thompson and suggesting that maybe for the duration of the campaign, she might consider "letting herself go a bit" to lower the apparent difference of age between them, which is only widened by the obvious care she has taken to look good. Wear less makeup, let a few bags show up around the eyes, just little minor things that eliminate the possibility of her husband being suspected of statutory rape.

Talk like this makes the conversation inevitable. If we all crank it really high, she might actually do it which I find to be a crime.

The world does not have enough beauty lighting it up and to dim a candle just because some narrow minded jerks are stirring up trouble should be out of bounds. So keep a hold of her picture now and look again in 6 or 9 months. If Mrs. Thompson is looking every one of her 40+ years then, you'll know who is to blame.

SteveR said...

Well Fen, women can just as often be stupid about how they present themselves. I have three daughters (and they have lots of friends) and it amazes me what passes for acceptable dress. Your comeback was good.

hdhouse said...

frankly my wife is a trophy wife ... she is my age, grey, not her 20s body but she is the best catch i could have hoped or prayed for. she is a trophy.

i suggest that you all reapply the definition.

John Burgess said...

If staring at breasts is something not to be done, why do women wear T-shirts with words appearing across the breasts?

I'm as happy as most males to look at a women's figure. I'm also very much interested in what logos, slogans, history appear on shirts and other garments.

But staring at words--sometimes distorted by topography--can also be construed as staring at breasts.

How about a ruling on this? Does a woman waive the right to be annoyed if someone is staring at words a few millimeters away from her breasts?

jane said...

Fred is just giving a friendly, loving look, but it’d be fun to dub him King Leer as he tries to figure out which branch of the Republicans and whether a single soul in the media actually loves him. He’s got my vote by default-- de fault of the remaining abysmal candidates.

LutherM said...

Professor : WHY do I sense that you
resent FRED being more popular than TOMMY?

Joe said...

I have no problem with a romantic couple showing their desire for one another. People scoff at Fred Thompson and his wife because of the great age/beauty difference. I doubt many would notice if a similar high-profile man "leered" at his comparably-aged wife in the same way Thompson allegedly leers at his wife.

I have no problem with it, but I wonder how much the 24-year age difference and distractingly sexy look of his wife might tarnish Thompson's "presidential" image?

George said...

This is what women want...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X96SpVapfaU

And one look from this stud, and what happens...

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4030558139019923534&q=cyd+charisse&hl=en

Invisible Man said...

This seems like such hypersensitivity coming from the right. Look at the guy, she's obviously a bit of a trophy wife but is that really such a big deal. People spent a few weeks making fun of Dennis Kucinich and his Red-headed Amazon bride, and I doubt that his surging candidacy suffered a bit.

I believe that this has just played into a larger issue about the right's cynical attempt to be the party of "moral values". Now that the right is in the unfortunate position of having a bunch of candidates (Thompson, Guiliani, Romney) who have veered pretty far from the archetype, the cognitive dissonance of the party's position on "moral and family values" and its candidates is forcing your head to explode.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

Fen, can I guess your young co-ed didn't find you attractive?

Isn't that the difference between sexual harrassment and dating, whether or not the 'leeree' finds the 'leeror' attractive?

I have yet to find a way to discover if my looking at a woman is harrassment or not, other than the reaction of the woman.

Anybody know of way I can tell if my look will be a leer or a welcome glance before I move my eyes?

Balfegor said...

Now that the right is in the unfortunate position of having a bunch of candidates (Thompson, Guiliani, Romney) who have veered pretty far from the archetype, the cognitive dissonance of the party's position on "moral and family values" and its candidates is forcing your head to explode.

Well, maybe yes, and maybe no. After all, Reagan is up on a pedestal next to Jesus Christ in the pantheon of American conservative heroes, but he divorced and remarried too. Traditional morality doesn't absolutely foreclose the possibility, so long as there's nothing too tawdry in the circumstances (e.g. Newt Gingrich, possibly Giuliani -- and rumour has it that Thompson's divorce came because of some sort of affair with a married woman).

Hoosier Daddy said...

I am amazed that a 40 year old woman is referred to as a trophy wife. Maybe that’s because I’m 40 and if I’m going for the trophy wife, she certainly isn’t going to be from my generation.

By the time you’re 40, I think the whole age difference controversy is nothing but a straw man. The only reason she gets the label is because she’s hot whereas if she was some dumpy plain Jane, the 24 year age difference wouldn’t be an issue. And what exactly is the ‘appropriate’ age difference between a married couple? Hal Holbrook is 14 years older than Dixie Carter (who is damn attractive to boot) so is that too wide an age gap and if not, would I then be accused of having a trophy wife if she was 26?

Seems some people are really trying to lower the bar to find a controversy.

jane said...

"Anybody know of way I can tell if my look will be a leer or a welcome glance before I move my eyes?"

Edjamikated Redneck, if she touches her hair, she's receptive. If she admires your fabulous wit or big muscles, that's sometimes an indicator--

AlphaLiberal said...

Uhhh... I don't think he's leering. I thin he's smiling, with his mouth and eyes, as people do. He's looking downward (there's a height difference) and the pic doesn't really offer a look at his eyes.

Now you made me go ahead and defend a Republican!

Here's an idea for a more substantive post: Discuss Fred Thompson's 18 years as a DC lobbyist, why doesn't the press provide this information and who were those foreign nations he was a registered foreign lobbyist for?

Probably too much substance there, though. OK, his wife has nice tits.

Joe said...

Hoosier, I don't disagree in principle, but I think many people will be genuinely surprised when they see Jeri Kehn and not in a way that is merely induced by artificially manufactured media scandal. 24 years difference shouldn't really have any negative moral implication when both parties are over, say, 30, but Jeri Kehn is really, really strikingly sexy and young-looking at 40. I think she will strike some people as not the spouse they would expect to be accompanied by the overhyped presidential-ness of Fred Thompson. On other hand, one of the other likely candidates' spouse this time around is an even more nontraditional choice to fill the traditional First Lady role, so who knows what the impact will be.

vet66 said...

This problem of leering is the root cause as to the failure of any health plan put forward by Hillary Clinton. Her plan will not cover medical procedures related to priapism or erectile dysfunction.

Thanks Bill!!

Ann Althouse said...

Touches her hair, eh? Hmmm....

I should say, I don't think FT is actually leering in that picture. Hope that wasn't unclear.

Too Cool for School said...

Interesting that no one is calling out the Kooch. See link: http://wonkette.com/politics/dept%27-of-helll_lo%2C-nurse%21/well-played-dennis-kucinich-256040.php

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

Thanks Jane!

I'll look out for the first one.

The other two I probably don't have a shot at!

Anymore.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Joe:

You make a good point. I think it’s a case of preconceived notions. Thompson looks Presidential in a way that Obama or even Giuliani do not so there will be a contingent who will simply be swayed purely by appearances. Then as you said, age difference aside, even at 40 she looks more like early 30s due to the attractiveness factor and that simply does not fit the preconceived image of what the First Lady is supposed to look like which I think to many people have been almost a ‘motherly’ like figure.

It almost makes one wish voting rights would be contingent upon passing a competency test.

jane said...

You're welcome, an ER.

Ann,

I think a lot of us women touch or rearrange our hair when an intriguing man is nearby. Don't ask me why-- maybe it's to show that it's touchable.

In turn, interested men stand a little taller or get a little more amusing when we're around. But if a man touches his hair, RUN!

Ann Althouse said...

So do guys know this? If so, I've been missing out on a chance to communicate in code. Because eye contact is such a pain.

Fen said...

So do guys know this?

We think we do. But women often confound us.

But if a man touches his hair, RUN!

Isn't that the difference between sexual harrassment and dating, whether or not the 'leeree' finds the 'leeror' attractive?

I think its just young women testing their charms. I went back to college at age 33 after leaving USMC, and noticed that alot - girls flirting and teasing me, not always because they wanted to date, but just to affirm that an older man found them desirable.

Bissage said...

It's called preening.

jane said...

Oh, Fen. No man touches his hair like Kedwards did and do.

Ann, we all still do eye contact, yes? Usually, a woman's is more fleeting than a man's or she. is. a. brazen. hussy...

There's all sorts of fun body language going on in the dance of romance.

Alex said...

Sensible old Mike Royko had the following to say about this kind of nonsense, nearly thirty years ago (Chicago Sun-Times column dated 8/28/79). Excerpts:

"Thousands of female state employees are being surveyed to determine if they are being leered at by male state employees.

...

"But in truth, most men don't really leer, even those who try, because genuine leering isn't easy to do. ... Just try it. Get a mirror and see if you can whip off a side glance of sly or insulting suggestion or malicious significance. It is not easy. In fact, it is very difficult. Rather than leering, you'll find yourself looking simple-minded.

...

"For one thing, there always exists the possibility of an innocent person being accused of leering when he really isn't. Hay fever can cause a pseudo-leer. So can the morning sun shining through an office window.

...

"I'm not saying men are blameless. There are some who would leer at the most modestly dressed granny, or even a department store dummy Why, I heard a song about a man in Chicago who even leered at his own wife.

"But if the goverment is going to step in and outlaw leering, it must also take a stand on swiveling, slinking, wriggling, and waggling.

"Or maybe we should just have a survey to determine who thinks up these kinds of surveys, and how fast they can be fired."

Kirk said...

Thanks for the quote, Alex--sure do miss Mike Royko!

Susan said...

When Drill Sqt said "I guess if she had been looking at him, it would have been called "adoring" ", I immediately thought of Nancy Reagan and her often ridiculed adoring looks at her husband.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Fen said:

But women often confound us

Often? Try perpetually confounding at least thats how it is when you get married.

On a similar note on attacting the opposite sex, I noticed that once I was married and was wearing my wedding ring, it seemed women tended to flirt more than they did before. I noticed it more and more, particularly the older I got. I attributed this to one or all of the following:

1) They always did and I was just noticing it now that I was 'unavailable' whereas when you're on the 'prowl', you can't see the forest for the trees.

2) Women saw married men as target practice to hone thier flirtations. Since I was married, I was therefore safe and they didn't need to worry that I'd actually act on thier moves.

Maybe I'm wrong all the way around. Curious if any other happily married men have experienced this as well.

vrse said...

No Annie, this does not make you a feministy... nice try, though.

Also, regarding your Politico profile, did you call yourself a moderate or did they?

Socially liberal with "strong" national security positions does not balance out Annie. You are, by many accounts, an extremist on national security issues. And the fact that you are presumably familiar with the Constitution makes it even worse. Also, as we've discussed endlessly, your "social liberal" credentials are lacking as well. You can't support someone like Alito and call yourself a social liberal, you putz!

So why do you insist on calling yourself a "moderate"? I just don't get it. Please explain your definition of the term?

AlphaLiberal said...

Aaah, a Royko quote. Sweet....

Ann, as a man, I've heard this hair-touching thing but it sounds a bit overstressed. Women tend to touch hair and primp regardless of who is around.

And I never remember it in the moment anyway. Women tend to be too subtle for most of us trogs.

AlphaLiberal said...

I am going to go home and try leering at the wife, though. Hubba hubba!

Steve S said...

Thompson's not leering at his wife, and even if he were, there's nothing wrong with that. The person who is blameworthy here is Joe Scarborough, with his idiotic and sexist comment about Thompson's wife and "working the pole."

As for any guy complaining when a woman has a negative reaction to being leered at, I hope he would never react negatively should he be the object of a leer from another man.

Fen said...

I noticed that once I was married and was wearing my wedding ring, it seemed women tended to flirt more than they did before.

Same here. Its because you're safe: 1) married and less likely to stalk 2) "normal" enough that another female would marry you and 3) more likely to know your way around a woman's body [if you're willing to cheat]

Fen said...

vrse: No Annie, this does not make you a feministy... nice try, though.

Geez. You're still bleeding in public? Get some therapy.

davidc. said...

I have trouble understanding some of the concepts in looking at women.

My wife will try on several outfits before she chooses the one that she likes for that day (or maybe hour). She spends at least an hour doing hair, face, etc. Now this is typical of women as I have lived with others besides my wife. Yet after all this effort to look good, women do not like to be looked at.

Now I can understand feeling uncomfortable if a man is "leering". But how long does it take before you are "leering"? Also, women do not like to be looked at by men they are not interested in, but how do you know that they are not interested?

When I went to the beach, we happened on a topless one. Being a typical redneck, I stood tranfixed staring. I had little control of the situation. Yet my wife told me I was being rude. Now I try to follow a gentlemen's code, but if a woman is naked in public, what am I supposed to do? Men really can not control this. And they don't understand the rules (if any exist).

vrse said...

"Same here. Its because you're safe: 1) married and less likely to stalk 2) "normal" enough that another female would marry you and 3) more likely to know your way around a woman's body [if you're willing to cheat]"

No Fen, women didn't flirt with you before you were married because YOU'RE AN IDIOT. Now that you're married (God bless your wife), they probably just talk to you, and in your lame world, that's flirting.

Fen, tell us, do you know you're way around a women's body? Annie, these are your readers!

Pogo said...

leer n. A desirous, sly, or knowing look, as judged by soomeone who doesn't like the offender.

Antonyms: gaze, glimpse, eye; applies only if done by friendly or desirable source

Fen said...

david: but if a woman is naked in public, what am I supposed to do? Men really can not control this. And they don't understand the rules (if any exist).

Yah, sometimes I don't think they understand we're wired differently. Not sure about Desmond Morris's theory...

"With the advent of bipedalism, Morris argues, if females were to be successful in shifting male interest around to the front, evolution would have to do something to make the female frontal region more stimulating to males."

...but if it has any validity, and assuming men are wired to procreate, then a female drawing attention to her breasts [topless] is... like a man taking advantage of a woman's maternal instict.

So its not our fault we leer :)

Fritz said...

Married men should only leer at their wife. Pornography & leering at other women is a marriage killer. The proliferation of ED supplements and pornography is a sad reflection upon society. Treating your spouse as you would wanted to be treated will ensure an excellent marriage. Most women know their libido falls off much quicker than their husband's, but a man really isn't always looking for sex in as much as sex has been conditioned to give the male the feel of importance from their spouse.

Pogo said...

Re: "...tell us, do you know you're way around a women's body? Annie, these are your readers!"

1. I know the way around, in, through, over, and under a woman's body. Men, too. But then, I had the manual, from medical school. It was there I first learned how topographically dissimilar are the sexes. Who knew?

2. Outside of a woman, there is no better friend for a man. Inside of a woman, it's pretty dark.

Ann Althouse said...

Note to whoever it was up there who assumed I am trying to do what is needed to get myself considered a feminist by various self-appointed feminists. That's so wrong. I only say what I actually think and also feel like saying. If that fits someone else's definition or fails to, they can say so if they want. Let them disagree with me, and if I think they are interesting enough to respond to, I'll argue on the substance of it. Fighting over the label is pointless.

Tex the Pontificator said...

Putting aside whatever Fred Thompson may have been doing, many rights, if exercised, may lead to adverse consequences. One must use discretion. This applies both to men and to women.

A man leering at a woman in public invites others to think less of him. A woman dressing in public in suggestive clothing invites not rape but a proposition.

Adults ought intuitively to understand these things.

Mortimer Brezny said...

If we're talking rights, surely, we've also got a right to express contempt for men who boorishly exhibit their sexual feelings in public.

See, but here is the problem: who gets to say what boorish is? I don't mind free speech, but I sure do mind having my speech chilled and I think there are two kinds of speech: "Having Fun" speech and "Party Pooper" speech. "Having Fun" speech is usually an expression of autonomy and people feel free to associate and join in if they agree; if you don't like it, you're welcome to leave (or turn off the Tv channel). "Party Pooper" speech is like the rants of people who protest coffins of soliders coming home. It makes people feel bad and ruins their time. Sure, you object to the war, but that doesn't mean you have to destroy the solemnity of the fallen returning to their families by being steadfastly non-solemn in the vicinity. There is another term for "Party Pooper" speech in the context of sexual expression, and it is called *&%$-BLOCKING. No one likes a *&%$-blocker.

So, no, I don't think that speech which brings people together and fosters association is the same as speech that drives people apart and stigmatizes their happy-making behavior. I think the problem with Ann's comment is that it presumes a hostile, aggressive man and a female victim. That isn't the social reality of hetersexual intercourse (in all senses).

The reality is usually the *&%$-blocking scenario. Not two people, but more than two. A man and a woman start flirting and a third-party -- call this person "The Interloper" somehow ruins the interaction, driving it underground or thwarting it altogether. The speech rights at issue here aren't just that of the man or that of the woman as a listener and a participant, but of the prospective man and woman who never come into being because of the interruption. Why is the contemptuous, annoying, prudish *&%$-blocking speech of an interloper more valuable than the right of freedom of association without *&%$-blocking harassment. That makes no sense.

The problem is that feminists often think they are contributing to a debate when they're really just interrupting others' conversations!

Joe said...

Maybe I'm not seeing the right photos, but I don't find Fred's wife, Jeri Kehn, all that attractive.

I don't see what the fuss is all about. I've known couples with bigger age discrepancies. Were I personally in the position to obtain a trophy wife, I'd settle for trophy sex and then hook up with someone closer to my age--I have no desire to go through the raising kids thing again.

Revenant said...

Now that the right is in the unfortunate position of having a bunch of candidates (Thompson, Guiliani, Romney) who have veered pretty far from the archetype, the cognitive dissonance of the party's position on "moral and family values" and its candidates is forcing your head to explode.

If you think Fred Thompson's marital history clashes with social conservative values, you really need to learn more about social conservatives.

Social conservatives don't think that high school kids should be fooling around, obviously, but they also know that some do. Kids make mistakes. The question is, what did Thompson do when his girlfriend got pregnant? He didn't ditch her, nor did he pay for some back-ally abortion or push her to give the kids up for adoption. He married her, straightened up his life, and then he and his wife put themselves through college. They stayed together until after all of their children were grown and out of the house before separating amicably.

If you think a social conservative looks at that story and thinks "SINNER! BLASPHEMER!!!" you really need to put down the Michael Moore book and actually meet some actual, flesh-and-blood social conservatives. They might tsk at the divorce, but there's no question that the Thompsons did right by each other (and, even more importantly, their kids).

As for his second wife being 20 years younger and good-looking, well... I may be an atheist, but I've probably read the Bible more than most Christians, and I'm almost positive there's nothing in there saying "when thou art old and wrinkly, thou shalt only marry women who art old and wrinkly".

Two final points:

(1): "Voluptuous"? Mrs. Thompson is certainly a beautiful woman, but her body's proportions are well within normal ranges.

(2): As others have noted, he's not leering -- he's smiling at his wife, and she at him. Enlarge the picture, its obvious.

vrse said...

Okay Annie, answer just one question for me:

In light of the recent SCOTUS decisions, do you believe ALITO's addition to the bench was a positive development?

Many thanks.

Hoosier Daddy said...

If you think Fred Thompson's marital history clashes with social conservative values, you really need to learn more about social conservatives.

Excellent post Rev. Could not have been stated better.

Joshua said...

Maybe I'm not seeing the right photos, but I don't find Fred's wife, Jeri Kehn, all that attractive.

Me neither. Bit of a cougar, IMHO.

Ann Althouse said...

Mortimer: I'm not picturing a party situation, but more of a public appearance like Thompson's. And I'm not so much thinking of the woman's reaction, but the onlooker's. Thompson is leering (or not) at his wife, so there's not issue of whether she accepts him (I hope). I'm thinking about whether we should feel offended or intruded upon having to see it.

Mortimer Brezny said...

If they don't mind, I don't mind. I much prefer seeing a man who thinks his wife is hot and a wife who likes her husband thinking she's hot than I prefer seeing two cold fish acting boring and prudish in public. That doesn't mean I want to see gross-out Tipper-Gore action, but I like my politicians human.

knoxwhirled said...

I would agree that the increasingly slut-astic aesthetic of fashion makes it pretty hard for women who indulge in it to protest at leering. If you're going to put on innappropriately low-cut jeans with a thong sticking out and a low-cut shirt to match, well, duh!

However, as to questions like "how do you define leering???" Come on. We all know leering when we see it. When I was single and younger, a leer from an attractive guy my age was certainly welcome. But a leer from a much older guy was pretty much unwelcome. This may not be "fair" but it's true! It's really no different from a guy ogling younger women but not particularly admiring older women.

reader_iam said...

Rev:

Good job. Wondered when someone would take a look at Thompson's marital history (married at 17, divorced 25 years later, then single for 17 years before remarrying).

It seems to me that if Thompson had wanted only, or even primarily, a "trophy" wife, he might have hooked up in that fashion a lot sooner that 17 years after his first marriage ended. His second wife was close to thirty (OK, 29-1/2) when the two met in 1996, which means she wasn't exactly just off the turnip truck, and they didn't marry until six years later, which doesn't strike me as a rush job, but rather a considered decision. The age of Thompson doesn't make Jeri, at 35, any less mature than any other 35-year-old woman.

Is the issue here really partly ageism? Some sort of "ick" factor?

***

I'm thinking about whether we should feel offended or intruded upon having to see it.

I don't see that expression as a leer, number one (I think Althouse says the same thing somewhere in this thread).

Regardless, with all the stuff most of us see in "public" situations on a routine basis, I'm having a tough time imagining that something like this is truly making people feel "intruded" upon. (OTOH, it's easy for me to imagine people latching on to it opportunistically, for political reasons. And NO, I don't think Althouse is doing that.)

That someone would feel offended is utterly beyond me.

Of course, people feel what they feel. I suppose "should" doesn't really come into it, for that reason, and yet I can't help "feeling" that feeling intruded upon or offended by something like this is at least a little silly.

reader_iam said...

The "35" being significant in that that's how old Jeri was when they actually tied the knot ... .

AlphaLiberal said...

Althouse said: "various self-appointed feminists"

Is their someone else who appoints people to be feminists? I always took it to be some label we choose to adopt for ourselves or not. Like "moderate," "conservative," or "liberal."

Ann Althouse, that self-appointed moderate.

TMink said...

hdhouse wrote: "frankly my wife is a trophy wife'

God bless you Mr. House. I feel the same way. I even got her a tshirt that says so for Valentine's day! I married up, way up! She is my age, funny, beautiful, and the best thing that ever happened to me.

Trey

George said...

After watching your appeal from ev'ry angle,
There's a big romantic deal I'd like to wangle,
For I've fallen for a certain luscious lass
And it's not a passing fancy or a fancy pass.

I love the looks of you, the lure of you,
I'd love to make a tour of you,
The eyes, the arms, the mouth of you,
The east, west, north, and the south of you.
I'd love to gain complete control of you,
Handle even the heart and soul of you,
So love, at least, a small percent of me, do,
For I love all of you.

"All of You," Cole Porter

Ah, to write lyrics (and music) like that...

Balfegor said...

Re: Brezhny

The reality is usually the *&%$-blocking scenario. Not two people, but more than two. A man and a woman start flirting and a third-party -- call this person "The Interloper"

. . . also known as a "chaperone." I mean, sure, it's annoying that some people appoint themselves your chaperones, even without your relatives engaging them for that purpose. And young men and women have long objected to the idea of chaperones in general. But it's a role with a long and illustrious history -- let's not pretend that generations of spinster aunts haven't filled precisely this "interloper" function. A modern feminist interrupting a man and a woman at their tete-a-tete is following in the proud footsteps of her Victorian forebears.

Re: Reader_iam:

I'm having a tough time imagining that something like this is truly making people feel "intruded" upon.

That woman has uncovered meat robbing men of their agency and self-control? Or wait, is this a "male gaze" thing, stripping women of agency, etc. etc.?

Mortimer Brezny said...

A modern feminist interrupting a man and a woman at their tete-a-tete is following in the proud footsteps of her Victorian forebears.

No, I am not just talking about people who do it consciously. I'm talking also about those who do it unconsciously because of the values they hold and those who do it pruposely without believing there is any corresponding gain to any party intruded upon.

Mortimer Brezny said...

And there is also a long and illustrious history of genocide. That isn't a justification.

Revenant said...

Come on. We all know leering when we see it.

Judging from the response to that photo I'd say a lot of us "know" leering when we DON'T see it, too. I've seen a lot of leering, but I don't see any in that picture of Fred and Jeri Thompson.

Trinity said...
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reader_iam said...

I'm having a tough time imagining that something like this is truly making people feel "intruded" upon.

I was specifically speaking with reference to the picture of Thompson and his wife (in which I don't see a true leer), and in specific response to a musing of Althouse's.

reader_iam said...

That first sentence should have been italicized.

Sorry, got distracted--my son chose that precise moment to wander into the room and ask me where **exactly** the place is that babies come out of on girls, and if there are pictures and videos he can see of babies being born.

LOL.

Kirk said...

Hoosier Daddy,

I experienced just the opposite.

Once, when I was going through some dermatology problems, I had stopped wearing my wedding ring except for special occasions. "Special occasions" most definitely did not include the twice-monthly Chamber of Commerce meet-and-greet events I attended at the time. After one particular occasion where I finally realized one of the female regulars had been giving me quite a lot of focussed attention for the past several times, I decided to start wearing the ring again. Bingo--that was the end of the special attentiveness!

But maybe this isn't evidence against your theory that the married men are considered safe since they wouldn't "act on their moves", as I don't think I exude the slightest bit of Bad Boy™ persona. :-)

Joe, I also think she's only of average attractiveness--but one thing I'm sure of is that different looks appeal to different people, and I'm an extremely poor judge of what will be attractive to others. (Though we do all still agree about Julia Roberts, right???)

Oligonicella said...

I was eating lunch at the bank's cafeteria and a couple of friends of mine were at a nearby table.

A young wire clerk walked through the line with a very tight fitting dress which showed most everything.

The man looked. The woman with him said in effect "take a picture".

He looked back at her and said "If she didn't want it looked at, she shouldn't have shrink-wrapped it."

She looked at him a few seconds and responded, "You're right."

knoxwhirled --
"When I was single and younger, a leer from an attractive guy my age was certainly welcome. But a leer from a much older guy was pretty much unwelcome."

Then, there's no real "bad thing" to a leer in and of itself, right? It's just a way to dun someone you find unattractive.

knoxwhirled said...

All I'm saying is, it's in the eye of the beholder... or beholdee, I guess.

K T Cat said...
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K T Cat said...
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Fen said...
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K T Cat said...

Fen, you are absolutely right. I just deleted my idiotic comments. If I was any dumber, they'd use me to hammer in nails at a construction site. Thanks for pointint that out.

At least I was able to lift most of that misdirected bile into a blog post. I'll go make sure my snarks are properly directed.

Ann, I apologize.

Hazy Dave said...

"... unless you've got a special way about you, which you probably don't if you're reading this and not off somewhere enjoying the benefits of flouting society's norms."

Ouch! Busted...

Fen said...

Fen, you are absolutely right. I just deleted my idiotic comments. If I was any dumber, they'd use me to hammer in nails at a construction site

LOL. Hey no problem. We all have our moments [and mine have been much worse].

ptg said...

The women here are clearly atypical.

astromuffy said...

The premise that leering is sexual expression, and sexual expression is a right and not a crime, is flawed on so many levels.

First, there are hundreds of laws that oversee and govern our sexual behaviour, and what the law doesn't provide for, social mores dictate.

Therefore leering at a woman is at best, antisocial and it's just a short hop from antisocial behaviour to criminal behaviour - in this case, rape being a potential outcome.

Leering is unwanted, intimidating attention. Violence and nonconsent are implicit in the fixed, hungry, preditorial gaze.

Since it has been determined that rape is not a sexual act, but a criminal enactment of the abuse of power, then no more can leering be a sexual act since men who must leer to compensate for a sense of impotence in life are abusing their power by forcing their unwanted attention on women, with the woman being unable to do anything about it.

Leering is a form of rape.

It elicits in me an automatic instinctual urge to kill the man who would confront me thusly.

astromuffy said...

The premise that leering is sexual expression, and sexual expression is a right and not a crime, is flawed on so many levels.

First, there are hundreds of laws that oversee and govern our sexual behaviour, and what the law doesn't provide for, social mores dictate.

Therefore leering at a woman is at best, antisocial and it's just a short hop from antisocial behaviour to criminal behaviour - in this case, rape being a potential outcome.

Leering is unwanted, intimidating attention. Violence and nonconsent are implicit in the fixed, hungry, preditorial gaze.

Since it has been determined that rape is not a sexual act, but a criminal enactment of the abuse of power, then no more can leering be a sexual act since men who must leer to compensate for a sense of impotence in life are abusing their power by forcing their unwanted attention on women, with the woman being unable to do anything about it.

Leering is a form of rape.

It elicits in me an automatic instinctual urge to kill the man who would confront me thusly.