The Politics of Eye F*****g…

Updated: Apr 9

Waiting to enter Kiko, I felt the prying eyes of a stranger. His gaze graduated quickly from inviting to invasive. Although our eyes never met, I knew he was looking—and so did he.

The intensity of his gaze only increased after entering the store, and for whatever reason, he became difficult to ignore. The store was on street level, and the glass window provided the perfect opportunity for him to stare. The patronizing undertone of his glare was evident, and I couldn’t help but wonder who he was?

Fighting the awkwardness, I chose to ignore instead of confronting and figuratively, I felt that I had become a zoo animal entertaining an onlooker.

Social etiquette is constructed, and how we choose to interpret different social interactions is invariably subjective, dependent on factors such as age, class and culture. In addition, the ability to read a person is a fundamentally simple fact that most would confirm, mind you observing, and judging are two different things.

The New Yorker states that affirmative consent places too much emphasis on what we want, and details the challenges facing what they call consent culture in their recent feature.

If sexual consent involves a verbal exchange, how do you interpret the nonverbal?

At a dinner table, most people would argue that staring is rude…but considering queerphobia, and the amount of attention queers receive in public, not to mention the prevalence of hate crime that the queer community is exposed to, what can you do?

Eyes are the window to the soul, but soul reading isn’t really something most people learn in school, and when does eye contact verge from friendly to predatory?

If gratification is only possible through vulnerability, and if gender is performance, demanding respect from an onlooker shouldn’t be too much to ask—right?

Historically, cruising has had a discreet set of codes that indicate a person’s level of consent. For example, an ear piercing on the right instead of the left ear was deemed effeminate and was often perceived as a greenlight.

In 2021, when gays and queers have left the underground space, roaming free in the public domain, and given the tension resulting between the two groups…what determines the difference between a friendly observer and a predator?

After asking for a strategy, opinions seemed to vary. Some would say stare back, others say avoid eye contact, and some would even choose to take it as a compliment.

If a person has a compliment—shouldn’t it be voiced, in fact if someone has something to say…why not just say it?

Bibb Lettuce:

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