I’ve been picking at the idea of eye contact lately. I normally have difficulty making eye contact naturally, but when I deliberately attempt to make eye contact I get some strange results. Initially this started with commuting on public transportation- a prolonged stare at someone who is being an obstruction or an annoyance is oddly effective. I’m probably overdoing it now, but I’ve been very aware of when I could try staring and what results I might get.
Now we come to the leap where I admit I recently spent a lot of time staring at TIMs.
It’s not like I was hunting them, I went to a big event where there happened to be about a dozen TIMs kicking around. What I noticed first, being one of at most 3 women at the event in a group of about fifty people, was that I had just tremendous presence. If I approached a TIM you’d think I was armed. He looks down, to the side, fully turns away... The “normal” guys behaved about how I expected, no odd reactions except for one or two who were clearly not used to speaking to women (I forgive them, I expected it.) But the TIMs were just terrified to look at me. When I had a good moment I’d watch them, trying to maintain that ‘is that so-and-so?’ look that... well, must look exactly like someone who is trying to figure out if they’re looking at a man.
At one point I was eating dinner across from a guy in a wig and you’d think he was monitoring the Bat Signal. Later they were all grouped up literally comparing programming socks and I caught each of their eyes in turn, and I, wearing muddy jeans and a graphic t-shirt, felt like fucking Cleopatra with the looks I got. It was like being a Mean Girl except the only thing that qualified me for the Plastics was actually being a girl.
I know it’s a form of privilege to not fear physical, violent retaliation for this experiment, but if you’re given the chance I recommend it thoroughly. You rarely get the chance to tell a TIM to his face “you’re not a woman,” but they all understand what your look means. And who’s going to sue you for one long uncomfortable look? “Is she clocking me?” He thinks. “Is she a terf? She can’t just clock me like that!!” His blood pressure rises... “But she hasn’t said anything so I can’t fucking DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.”