According to a new study, women talk less about themselves and are more uncomfortable when they felt men were looking at their bodies instead of at their faces.
Saguy found that women talked about themselves for less time than men, but only if they thought they were being visually inspected by a man, and particularly if they thought their bodies were being checked out. They used the full two minutes if they were describing themselves to another woman (no matter where the camera was pointing) or if they were speaking to a man who could hear but not see them. But if their partner was a man watching their bodies, they spoke for just under one-and-a-half minutes. Men had no problem talking about themselves, no matter who their partner was:
They used the full two minutes regardless of whether they were being watched or listened to, and no matter the gender of their partner. The fact that men didn't react in the same way is important. For a start, it shows that it's a man's gaze and not just any downward glance that affects a woman's behaviour. It also puts paid to the false equivalence arguments that are often put forward when discussing gender issues (i.e. "women look at male bodies too").What causes women to react this way?
As Saguy explains, "When a woman believes that a man is focusing on her body, she narrows her presence... by spending less time talking." There are a few possible reasons for this. Saguy suspects that objectification prompts women to align their behaviour with what's expected of them - silent things devoid of other interesting traits. Treat someone like an object, and they'll behave like one. Alternatively, worries about their appearance might simply distract them from the task at hand.
If it were me, I'd stop talking so that the dude would stop looking at me. Obviously he wouldn't be paying attention to what I was saying anyway, and maybe if I stopped talking he wouldn't focus his attention on me anymore. Anyone else have a different theory?