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[creepy filter] Is it normal to become this distracted from seeing an attractive person in public?
March 22, 2010 4:33 PM   Subscribe

OK, I'm pretty sure this issue is creepy, so, brace yourself. The gist of the issue is that I'll be in public, at the store, the park, whatever, and I'll see someone who I find is very attractive ("wow, I can't believe how hot she is."). But, instead of simply letting that nice moment pass and continuing on my way as normal, I remain distracted, not really able to focus on what it is I was doing or was going to do, for a very long while, up to an hour or more.

The way this distraction evinces itself is the following:

"I feel like I need to do something about it" is how I've described it.. not merely in some sexual sense, but

1. in a "I need to get her attention somehow" kind of way. That feeling is strong enough that I've actually walked up to the person and told her, for example, that I like her outfit. And a lot of times, that'll make me feel better, and I carry on.

The other feeling I get is that
2. "I need to get a picture of her". Since this has happened a lot, I now carry a little P&S camera with me wherever I go, mostly for this purpose. So if it's feasible, I'll spend some time trying to get a candid picture of her.
2a. Related to the last item is that I'm a boob guy, so these women almost always have some sort of boobage showing, which is a big (ha) part of what I try to capture in the pic. Regular frontal shot usually doesn't cut it, so just imagine how I'm looking for the perfect opportunity to snap a shot...

Side note: I kind of think that the picture is a compromise for making some connection with the person.. like if I can't make a connection, then at least I can get my jollies from a pic of her.

If I can't do either thing (say something or get pic), then that's where the "long-term distraction" kicks in, the feelings of "I really should've done something". I've told my friends that it's basically an inconvenience to see a hottie. I joke about how "my trip to the store was ruined cuz I saw this hottie right when I got there", but it's kind of true.. like I really feel like I need to do something, and I just ruminate about it.

So, what do I do about this? Basic self-control? Counseling? An adjustment of attitude? A change in the way I look at or think about things? I really am open to all suggestions, including therapy if that's what I need.

Do other people do this?

Some thoughts about why I have this issue:
- I think the fact that I might be able to do something is what really propels me to want to do something. Like if I saw the person on a motorcycle or something, riding past me very quickly, I think I would feel less inclined to want to do something. But depending on how good of a look I got, maybe not. Not sure.
- Maybe I've got a strong voyeuristic tendency that comes out when the situation is compelling
- I just want attention
- I want attention from a hottie because not only would it be awesome but it would boost my self-esteem
- regular porn is just so unrealistic
- regret from not taking action in the past is now motivating me to do something

Any and all help, criticism, etc. would be greatly appreciated. Any questions, please ask! Thank you in advance.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (94 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
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You could try thinking of these "hotties" as people, for one. Your question is focused on the effects of seeing a "hottie" on *you*, but I'm really just pissed off for the girls whose picture you're trying to take. Maybe realizing that you're probably being creepy would help.
posted by OLechat at 4:42 PM on March 22, 2010 [39 favorites]


The picture taking is crossing a big, big line. That is not okay.
posted by something something at 4:43 PM on March 22, 2010 [107 favorites]


For starters, when you think "I need to get a picture of her," realize that while you may feel an urge to do that, it is not appropriate to act on that particular urge, and don't do it.
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:44 PM on March 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


It sounds like you have a fetish, which is fine-- if other people you're involving in your fetishes are aware and consenting, which these women are not.

Since you describe this as a compulsion to do something that, really, isn't kosher, some therapy might be useful in helping you figure out why you feel this way and why you're compelled to photograph women without telling them (presumably for later sexual gratification, as you appear to be noting with the "get jollies" comment).
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 4:45 PM on March 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


in a "I need to get her attention somehow" kind of way. That feeling is strong enough that I've actually walked up to the person and told her, for example, that I like her outfit. And a lot of times, that'll make me feel better, and I carry on.

This is totally ok in my books if the compliment is genuine and your looking at her face while you're saying it. And you then just go on your way. Win win.

Taking the candid photos is creepy and invasive. It sounds like the beginning of the slippery slope to 'dirty old man' status. Stop doing this.
posted by Kerasia at 4:45 PM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


So, what do I do about this? Basic self-control? Counseling? An adjustment of attitude? A change in the way I look at or think about things?

Yes.

Since you seem to have no intention of doing anything past a simple flirt (usually okay) and taking a covert picture (not okay), you're treating women like works of art that you have to interact with -- but not too much -- and then go on your way. Or worse, later "[getting] your jollies" from the picture".
posted by supercres at 4:46 PM on March 22, 2010


I think three things are in order here:

1. Quit taking pictures of random women's breasts.
2. Quit referring to attractive women as "hotties."
3. Sounds like you need some therapy.

Also, until you get your problem under control, don't even engage these women in public as I'm sure you're going to come across extremely creeptastic.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:47 PM on March 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


Seek therapy. This is disturbing behavior.

2. "I need to get a picture of her". Since this has happened a lot, I now carry a little P&S camera with me wherever I go, mostly for this purpose. So if it's feasible, I'll spend some time trying to get a candid picture of her.
2a. Related to the last item is that I'm a boob guy, so these women almost always have some sort of boobage showing, which is a big (ha) part of what I try to capture in the pic. Regular frontal shot usually doesn't cut it, so just imagine how I'm looking for the perfect opportunity to snap a shot...


DO NOT DO THIS. NOT COOL.

Do other people do this?

I usually hear of it happening when shows like 20/20 investigate stalking and peeping Toms or Law & Order SVU shows cops breaking into a serial killer's/rapist's apartment and finding the pictures around.
posted by sallybrown at 4:48 PM on March 22, 2010 [36 favorites]


The creepiness/picture-taking issue aside, you're sabotaging your potential for an actual connection with a woman by blatantly objectifying her. This is damaging on multiple levels, not to mention very ego-centric and inconsiderate of other humans' privacy, desires, and autonomy. It is very possible that insecurity is driving this, but whatever is going on here, you should really invest this self-absorption into changing and understanding the behavior, rather than perpetuating it. I'd recommend counseling...this probably isn't just relegated to picture-taking, but rather one manifestation of an unhealthy perspective on women and relationships. It's also obviously affecting your day-to-day interaction.

I'm sorry to be harsh, but this is NOT OK behavior; it is threatening to others and damaging to yourself.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:49 PM on March 22, 2010 [55 favorites]


on the one hand, i think we all have our various fetishes and as long as yours doesn't hurt anybody, then yay for you!

on the other hand, as someone who has to deal with getting catcalled every block or so and strange dudes who either persist in trying to talk to me when i obviously don't want to talk to them or that straight up just to try to follow me home: dude, you are being totally creepy. if i caught you taking photos of my boobs, i would probably a) call you out on being a total creep right then and there , b) try to take your photo and post it on the internet, identifying you as a creep, and c) be totally distrustful of strange dudes with cameras pointed my direction for a while. guys doing what you're doing are among the many strong reasons why a lot of women do not ever make eye contact with, let alone talk to strange men and don't feel like they can dress the way they want to dress in public.

are you okay with making other people uncomfortable? are you okay with those people maybe you calling you out on your behavior? if so, then maybe you can keep on keeping on; if not, then maybe you need to talk to someone and/or find another outlet for your voyeuristic tendencies. have you ever considered going on craigslist and just hiring adult models?
posted by lia at 4:50 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ditch the camera! I am speaking as one who has had to walk a crying 16-year-old "hottie" to the guidance counselor because some "creepy old dude" in the parking lot told her she should be a model and asked if he could take a picture of her. Her response was to cry and run away. I'm guessing your little hobby has had or could potentially have the same effect. Whatever you need to do to stop, do so now.
posted by SamanthaK at 4:51 PM on March 22, 2010 [29 favorites]


Never bring a camera with you in public that will allow you to do this.

You can tell me all you want about how you lose control when you see these women. But when you're at homing getting ready to go out, you're not looking at women, and you're quite capable of leaving the camera at home. Or, you know, just throw it out. You can do it -- it's your decision either way.

You're being the kind of guy that causes people to fear all men as potential "creeps." For everyone's sake, please stop it.

"Regular porn is so unrealistic." Um, maybe find some realistic, irregular porn?
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:52 PM on March 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


I really don't know what to say except that if I noticed you taking pictures of my boobs, I would call the police on you or get some large male friend to kick your ass. You are invading these womens' privacy and dehumanizing them. Please get help.
posted by pecknpah at 4:52 PM on March 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


if you think regular porn is unrealistic, you're looking in the wrong spots. yes, there is terrible, awful porn out there. there's also some really good stuff that speaks to your particular fetish. the difference between the porn and what you're doing, the women in those productions have agreed to be filmed and don't mind what you and your jollies do with their pictures/videos.

i've been photographed randomly in public by some sketchy dude. please don't do this.
posted by nadawi at 4:57 PM on March 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


It sounds to me like you may have a form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, where seeing a beautiful woman triggers intrusive thoughts that lead to a compulsion to either meet or photograph her. So... therapy.
posted by elsewhen at 4:58 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Therapy" may seem like a generalized and impersonal answer to your question, but there are probably deeper issues here that you may need to confront. You didn't mention if you've had relationships in the past, if you've been brought up sort of emotionally neglected by those close to you, etc. My guess is there's something beneath the surface propelling this infatuation beyond what most people experience.

Considering that your actual behavior has now stepped into a dangerous realm, and you've realized and admitted this, you either need to make a decision to control yourself or seek someone's professional ear and advice on how to deal with it. We won't be able to give you a diagnosis of that sort here (nor should we). All I can say, and I think all other people here can ultimately say, is that you're going to make a lot of people uncomfortable/pissed off/scared and you need to change this. So first thing first, ditch the camera. Second, find other meaningful distractions. And third, remind yourself that you're dealing with fellow people who have lives and feelings of their own.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 5:00 PM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think you're right, this is creepy. If you've ever seen one of those shows where someone say's "Why don't you take a picture, it will last longer," what they're actually saying is "your attentions are creepy", not "please take a picture".

You even go so far as to menton it's their hotness or their breasts that you're particularly interested in, which is pretty much the definition of objectifying these people.

It is interesting to note that sometimes, if you can compliment the person and move on, this will be satisying in and of itself. In the short term, this is better than trying to take candid 'angle' photos, which is definitely creepy, especially since you seem to equating those photos with porn. Such photos are likely to be borderline illegal - so don't do that.

It's the compulsion side of things that I find the most worrying. Occasionally being motivated to compliment someone one their outfit...well, OK. Wanting to take surreptitious photos of their cleavage, to the point of continued distraction, definitely not OK. Bearing in mind I am not a psychiatrist, and that you haven't told us much about the rest of your life, this sounds like something where some counselling would do some good. It's a compulsion that is getting in the way of your actual life, and one that could easily get you in some trouble in a worst case scenario. See someone about it definitely.
posted by Sparx at 5:01 PM on March 22, 2010


While professional therapy might help in the long run, it sounds like the amateur self-psychoanalysis may just be helping you rationalize your behavior. Who cares why you do this or how you feel while you do it? It's not OK, it sounds like you realize it's not OK, and you need to stop.

What if you try finding stimuli that help break you out of the sexual trance/arousal state that comes over you when you see a cute girl? Try one of the following:
-- Snapping your wrist, hard, with a rubber band
-- Picturing the sweet baby daughter you may someday have. Then picturing her 16 years old, with some slavering dickwad snapping covert pictures of her cleavage to jerk off to later.
-- Picturing, instead of this girl's chest, the chest of some older female relative-- say, your mom or grandma.
posted by Bardolph at 5:06 PM on March 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the fact that you have jargon for these women is the most disturbing thing to me. You've consciously or unconsciously put them into a category that is not the same one as "person." You don't even call them girls or women, but use a complete abstraction.

Fine, give them a compliment. In what situation can you take a picture, but not say, "Nice dress?"

The picture taking is disturbing at a basic level but, to play devil's advocate, what exactly is the difference between this and any photographer taking candid photos in public? Lascivious intent?
posted by cmoj at 5:06 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


No. No, no, no, this is NOT normal. This is not a question of a change in attitude or perspective. You need to stop taking pictures of women's breasts right away (smash your camera to pieces if you have to) and get yourself into counselling or therapy immediately.

Several things about your post are extremely alarming:

- That how the women may feel about your actions does not factor into your analysis one little bit - it is all about YOU, meeting YOUR needs for gratification, getting YOUR jollies, boosting YOUR self-esteem.

- In fact, your failure to regard women as human beings to be treated with respect is so severe that the only potential consequences you deem worthy of addressing are YOUR distraction, YOUR regrets, YOUR inconvenience. You seem unable to understand or acknowledge that you could get into very real trouble for your actions.

- That when you are unable to "make a connection" to your satisfaction, you are unable to walk away from a woman without getting or taking something from her.

- That it's not really the woman as a whole that you're interested in, but her breasts, so much so that even a regular front view is no longer satisfactory to you. Not only are you reducing women into one body part, you are actually unsatisfied unless you are able to do so.

By the way, leering at a woman's breasts and then giving her a line is NOT "making a connection."

If you do not get help, you will land yourself in serious trouble sooner or later, either legally or someone will kick the sh*t out of you. I'm not saying this to be mean, I'm telling you so that you realize how urgently you need to get professional help. Get treated now, while your behaviors and thoughts can still be categorized as merely *really, REALLY creepy,* before they escalate into the criminal realm.

GET HELP.
posted by keep it under cover at 5:07 PM on March 22, 2010 [99 favorites]


what exactly is the difference between this and any photographer taking candid photos in public? Lascivious intent?

These are boob shots, not just "candid photos," and I would be disturbed if Henri Cartier-Bresson himself were taking pictures of my tits without my consent.
posted by sallybrown at 5:10 PM on March 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


Get rid of the camera.

As others have said, your behavior is out of the normal enough that you should seek therapy. You seem to know it's creepy, but don't realize how truly over-the-line you are - having someone to talk it over with could help.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:13 PM on March 22, 2010


The difference between you thinking someone is hot and you crossing into creepy picture-taking territory is the decision to act on your thoughts.

Think what you want, but when you get the urge to cross the line (talking is fine, snapping pictures... no) ask yourself what's going to happen if you don't act on that urge. It'll probably feel really uncomfortable for a few hours, but after that life will resume as normal.

You can even start small, but essentially you want to repeat to yourself over and over again "the difference between me doing [desired reaction] and [undesirable reaction] is whether or not I act on those thoughts. I don't -have- to act on them."
posted by biochemist at 5:13 PM on March 22, 2010


I'm not going to address the photo taking because I'm too disturbed to be reasonable about it- the OP really doesn't seem to see women as fellow humans at all, especially if they're attractive.

To everyone who suggests a compliment instead of a photo: if a guy zeroes in on my breasts and then makes a beeline across the square to compliment my dress or hair or whatever... still not welcome. There is no way that all the hairs on the back of my neck won't raise as soon as I see him heading my way.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:16 PM on March 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


I agree with everyone that you need to stop this behavior. I do recommend that you try therapy, because it can help if you figure out why you are feeling this way and how you can deal with these intrusive thoughts and feelings. In the meantime, resist. First, recognize that you can resist. If there were a policeman at your elbow, you would not take the picture, right? In other words, your actions are within your control. You can choose to walk away. Make the choice to walk away from the situations that cause you to feel the inappropriate compulsion. Remind yourself that you are choosing freely how you are going to behave. You can't easily change your emotions, but you can change your choices. Good luck.
posted by prefpara at 5:18 PM on March 22, 2010


Are you male or female?

If you're a woman, you might be interested to know there are lots of services for people who want to talk about mental health and relationship issues at the GLBT center in your city. Not to mention lots of chances to chill and hang out with like minded people! In general, the best way to get out of the loop in your head is to talk to people more and ruminate less. You're guaranteed to start seeing them as real people instead of beautiful specimens pinned on your mental butterfly board. Good luck!
posted by aquafortis at 5:19 PM on March 22, 2010


[few comments removed - OP knows it's a touchy topic "you suck" answers not really helpful.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:21 PM on March 22, 2010


This sounds more like a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder than a fetish. IANAD, but please see a psychiatrist (not a counselor or therapist: an MD who can prescribe and is not just a regular GP) because this sounds like a form of OCD and if it is, it is likely to be treatable with medications like Prozac before you wind up in real trouble.
posted by Maias at 5:22 PM on March 22, 2010


The picture taking is disturbing at a basic level but, to play devil's advocate, what exactly is the difference between this and any photographer taking candid photos in public? Lascivious intent?

It's frightening to have a strange man with unclear intentions suddenly target you, personally, for anything. Targeting you for something lascivious is very frightening. What does he want from me? What is he going to do? I've had strange men snap my photo more than once, and it left me literally shaken.

OP, it's good that you're recognizing this is not normal. I agree with the others that you've dehumanized these women. And also, this behavior sounds compulsive. I agree with everyone who suggested therapy. If you sincerely want to change, I think it can help.
posted by Ashley801 at 5:27 PM on March 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


In the event that one more vote for "get help" will lead you to do just that, here's mine. I like Maias's suggestion of seeing a psychiatrist -- seeing as how you are crossing the line from just looking to actually taking creepy photos (with which "at least I can get my jollies from a pic of her" -- ew), this is more than just troubling thoughts.

In addition to the social awkwardness and potential legal issues already mentioned, don't forget that if you get caught there is a real chance of a serious ass kicking. Acting like a light-grade sexual predator means that you run the risk of getting treated like one, and that's never good.

Get help, and throw away the camera.
posted by Forktine at 5:28 PM on March 22, 2010


I'm not usually one to jump on the therapy bandwagon, but I would strongly suggest it in your case. The way you describe things seems to disassociate "hotties" from actual human beings, and I can't help but think that if you don't get help, you're going to end up in jail, and possibly not until after doing some serious damage to others.
posted by MexicanYenta at 5:31 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's your right to photograph whoever and whatever you want in public. Don't want to be photographed? Don't go outside. (For every creepy guy with a camera, there are a thousand security cameras recording every minute of your day. Now that's scary.)

Now the question is: do you want to be a normal member of society? If so, it's clear from the above comments that you're not doing a very good job. Your photography technique seems unlikely to get you a date with any of these pretty girls, which is generally most people's goals. (If you just want to jerk off to pictures of pretty girls; start with Flickr and work your way up. Then you don't even have to leave your house :P)

Anyway, I don't think you are "crossing a line" or anything, but this habit is probably going to ensure that you stay lonely and frustrated.
posted by jrockway at 5:31 PM on March 22, 2010


"...I need to get a picture of her"

"...so these women almost always have some sort of boobage showing, which is a big (ha) part of what I try to capture in the pic. Regular frontal shot usually doesn't cut it, so just imagine how I'm looking for the perfect opportunity to snap a shot..."


This is very creepy and not at all cool. This is uncool enough for someone like me, who is relatively nonconfrontational with strangers, to really freak out on you in public if I caught you doing this to me or anyone else.

I am not trying to be bitchy or obnoxious here, but if you are out for "attention from hotties" and you are using this method to accomplish that goal, please be aware that the attention you receive may very well be a swift jab to the groin.
posted by elizardbits at 5:45 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Elsewherewhen: It sounds to me like you may have a form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, where seeing a beautiful woman triggers intrusive thoughts that lead to a compulsion to either meet or photograph her. So... therapy.

This is incorrect, and as someone who has OCD, actually quite offensive. What the OP describes is not OCD behavior. I'm not a qualified psychiatrist, so I can't tell you what it might be, but it's not OCD. OP, you should see a professional, not rely on bad Askme diagnoses.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 5:46 PM on March 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


This sounds more like a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder than a fetish. IANAD, but please see a psychiatrist (not a counselor or therapist: an MD who can prescribe and is not just a regular GP) because this sounds like a form of OCD and if it is, it is likely to be treatable with medications like Prozac before you wind up in real trouble.
posted by Maias at 5:22 PM on March 22 [+] [!]


Again, No. OCD does not result in compulsive sexual offenses like taking pictures of unsuspecting womens' breasts. Please see a professional, not Askme.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 5:52 PM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


2. "I need to get a picture of her". Since this has happened a lot, I now carry a little P&S camera with me wherever I go, mostly for this purpose. So if it's feasible, I'll spend some time trying to get a candid picture of her.
2a. Related to the last item is that I'm a boob guy, so these women almost always have some sort of boobage showing, which is a big (ha) part of what I try to capture in the pic. Regular frontal shot usually doesn't cut it, so just imagine how I'm looking for the perfect opportunity to snap a shot...


This is really creepy. Stop doing it.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:54 PM on March 22, 2010


Have you considered hiring a model and then taking pictures of HER?

If you have a compulsion to take pictures of pretty girls, maybe you can deal with it by finding pretty girls who are willing to let you take their picture. For money.

There are artist's models who do this for reasonable prices. If you want "candids," you could simply pay a model to walk around the street while you take pictures.

This way you might get over the forbidden fetish aspects of your desires because you'd be working them out in a societally acceptable way. You might get to know some models as human beings (do NOT try to be their friends, keep the relationship professional). And you might get some decent photos.

If you can channel your fetish -- that's what it seems like to me -- into something artistic, then it might lead somewhere productive instead of being destructive as it is now.

And hiring photo models / artist's models has got to be cheaper than therapy...
posted by musofire at 5:55 PM on March 22, 2010


seriously?

you're asking is this behavior normal??

dude, you know friggin' well this is NOT NORMAL!!.

that's why you're posting here...cuz you already know that there's something wrong with how your acting, but are desperately hoping that we will all tell you it's okay...

well, it's not normal. and it's not okay.

you are arming yourself with a camera and going out hunting. if you don't curb this behavior you surely will cross an even more-serious line.

get help. please.

.
posted by DavidandConquer at 6:03 PM on March 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Related to the last item is that I'm a boob guy, so these women almost always have some sort of boobage showing, which is a big (ha) part of what I try to capture in the pic. Regular frontal shot usually doesn't cut it, so just imagine how I'm looking for the perfect opportunity to snap a shot...

"It's your right to photograph whoever and whatever you want in public."


this is not actually true. by the OP's description it sounds like he's going for down blouse/bra&nipple peek shots. the video voyeurism prevention act of 2004 is the applicable law in the US.
posted by nadawi at 6:05 PM on March 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


musofire, I'm sorry but your suggestion is not good.

OP clearly has severe issues with relating to women as real people rather than objects of sexual gratification. His compulsions and urges are also clearly escalating. There is a serious underlying dysfunction that needs to be treated. What you are suggesting may put women in danger.
posted by keep it under cover at 6:06 PM on March 22, 2010 [18 favorites]


Read this thread, is filled with stories from women who have been objectified (and worse) by men, many of whom considered themselves "nice guys" who weren't doing anything harmful. Then decide if what you're doing can be considered harmless or is worth smirking to yourself about, as you do in your post. These are real people, and your actions have real consequences. You have no right to help yourself to women, either by creeping them out or photographing their breasts.
posted by runningwithscissors at 6:13 PM on March 22, 2010 [14 favorites]


It's your right to photograph whoever and whatever you want in public. Don't want to be photographed? Don't go outside.

Is your perspective really that it's perfectly fine to treat a person however you want, do to them whatever you want, no matter how they feel about it or the consequences to them, as long as it's legal? And that if anyone is bothered by something a person does that's legal, they have no right to complain at all but should just hide in their house?

Just wondering, have you ever been targeted by something like that, specifically and personally? Behavior that was totally legal that someone enjoyed doing to you, that frightened you, creeped you out, or had other consequences to you? If so, how many times in your life has that happened?

I think it's dangerous advice to tell someone that if his behavior is legal, the feelings of the people he targets with it don't matter whatsoever. Especially when he displays a total lack of empathy towards them already.
posted by Ashley801 at 6:13 PM on March 22, 2010 [19 favorites]


Okay, I'm not trying to enter the "OCD" - "not OCD" debate. But. I do one OCD-esque thing (checking and re-checking the stove before going to sleep -- and if I don't, I'll feel preoccupied and have trouble forgetting about it), and by googling around, I found some great advice that might help with this rumination you describe. Again, I'm not saying "you have OCD," just that you might find some advice written for OCD sufferers (perhaps by inaccurate internet hacks) useful with the rumination problem. Much of what I remember suggested that you sit through it and see what it's really about, and that it's not so bad.
posted by salvia at 6:16 PM on March 22, 2010


So, what do I do about this? Basic self-control? Counseling? An adjustment of attitude? A change in the way I look at or think about things? I really am open to all suggestions, including therapy if that's what I need.

A couple ideas about changing how you look at things.

First, I think your desire for attention from attractive women is the essential thing to examine. You talk about feeling a need to "do something," your regrets about not taking action in the past, and the self-esteem boost you get from this attention. In my view, it seems important for you to see yourself as the kind of person who can get the attention of attractive women. Maybe this is because you learned somewhere that you're not a valuable human being otherwise. Maybe you learned that the most important difference between guys who get attention from attractive women, and guys who don't, is having the courage to approach them. And maybe you console yourself by saying that even if you weren't courageous enough to approach some woman, you still had the guts to snap a picture of her. If you lump all these women together as "hotties," instead of individual people, perhaps it's because you're focused on proving to yourself that you're courageous and worthy of attention-- their individuality has nothing to do with it for you.

So how to look at it differently? You can try to remember that, as you suspected, a lot of people think your current behavior is creepy. You can remind yourself that helping people feel safe and comfortable around you is a worthy way of being in the world. (And sometimes, oftentimes, this means NOT trying to trying to get the attention of an attractive woman, because the situation's not right. And knowing when the situation is right will require you to pay attention and try to imagine how she's feeling-- is she busy or distracted or in a hurry? Is she working someplace where you're a customer? Does she look open to chatting with you? And by this point you know better than to try taking her photograph.) You can even consider that the kind of attention you're currently getting from these attractive strangers isn't worth very much-- not compared to having one of these women actually get to know you and like you and respect you, which would in turn require you to approach them with a great deal more respect.

Therapy seems like it could really help, because I think we all need a certain amount of attention and affection to be healthy and happy. I imagine you're behaving like this because you don't really know how else to get the attention and affection you need, and therapy can help you learn how to do that. If this is the boat you're in, I can sympathize.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 6:18 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Firtsly, throw away the camera
Next, read this thread - all the comments, and the associated metatalk - realize that these are people with thoughts and feelings and rights of their own. The hottie that you need to do something about is actually a person, who notices and is made uncomfortable by the attention that you are giving her.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:23 PM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


You obviously have an inkling that the way you are thinking about and behaving towards women is not normal, and may be harmful to yourself and others. You're right. The sense of urgency that prompted you to post this question today is well founded. You need to address this, and you need to address it now.

Therapy will help you unravel the causes of your obsession, and help you deal with your threatening and self-destructively compulsive behaviour. I think it will help you more than you can even imagine right now.

Get rid of the camera immediately. It's enabling you in your compulsive behaviour, and causing your obsession to escalate. I know you think that taking the photos gives you some relief from the tension you feel when you see these women, but the camera is not helping you. It's making you worse. The camera is not giving you a connection to the women, it's driving you further and further away from having a normal social life. You need to nip this in the bud.

It may be helpful for you to do some reading about sexual objectification, and in particular, the male gaze. These ideas are directly pertinent to your situation, and will give you a valuable sense of perspective.

Good luck.
posted by hot soup girl at 6:26 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


You have allowed yourself to indulge in this behavior for way too long. No, it's not something you should've started doing to begin with. It's one thing to find ladies in public attractive, and that aspect of things is perfectly normal - we all see attractive people in our day-to-day lives. It's quite another thing to obsess about these women and follow them around for an hour so you can take pictures of their boobs. That is very disrespectful to them and intrusive, as well as potentially being illegal.

You ask if basic self-control is an answer. See, you know your thoughts and behavior are, in your words, creepy. That is a good first step, yet you do it anyway. Stop doing it. Stop bringing your camera around. When you catch yourself dwelling on some attractive woman, simply move on with your life because there is no other option. You don't have to be creepy; you're allowing yourself to be, because you've convinced yourself that you can't not act on these thoughts. But the way to stop doing something is to stop doing it. As long as you consider acting on these thoughts to be an option, you'll never get over it.

Trust me, there are plenty of people out there who have creepy thoughts, sexual or not. Non-violent people can have very violent thoughts. But there's a difference between merely thinking things and acting on them.

I am answering this question as if it is possible you do actually have control over your facilities, and you're just being lazy about exercising that control in this circumstance, and it's made your life more difficult than it needs to be. Others are very likely correct that you could benefit from seeing a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist, and I am by no means diminishing their suggestions, but don't let that make you think part of your solution can't come from within as well.
posted by wondermouse at 6:29 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


The definition of creepy is the guy who ignores social boundaries. Think about that for awhile whenever you are pondering if what you are doing is okay or not. (Or alternately, "would I want someone treating my favorite female relative like this?")
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:58 PM on March 22, 2010


There are many people here telling you to "just stop."

Can you?

That's a key question to answer, and there's only one way to answer it. Try to stop and see if you can do it? If you do this once a week, can you go six weeks without doing it (without being in agony for those six weeks)?

A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT WON'T WORK. It doesn't matter if you think you can quit. It doesn't matter if you KNOW you can quit. Such "knowledge" is meaningless. We all know the cliche of the drug addict who says, "I can stop any time I want to." Many of those addicts sincerely believe they can stop. It's much easier to stop a compulsion in your mind than to actually stop it in real life.

Whether or not you can "just stop," you have a problem. But if you can't stop, the problem is doubly serious and you definitely need to get help. It's obvious why, in that case, you need to get help, right? Because you can't stop on your own.

Here's another thing to chew on: if you have a fetish, it's not going to go away. Sexuality doesn't work that way. If you're obsessed with boobs, you're probably always going to be obsessed with boobs. You CAN -- maybe without help, maybe with help -- learn to alter the way your fetish influences your behavior. But you're not going find any easy way to rid yourself of your obsession. Yet another reason to seek help. A good therapist will help you learn to live with the feelings you have in a way that is socially acceptable.

Do you feel that your only options are taking the pictures or no titillation at all? If so, THAT'S a problem. The problem isn't that your only chance with women is taking the pictures (or making comments). The problem is that you think it is. If I thought that way, I'd seek help.

Trying to figure out why you're the way you are is a trap. It's an interesting puzzle, but you're not going to solve it. Why are gay men attracted to other men? Why do furries like dressing up in animal costumes? Why do gentlemen prefer blondes. Even if you knew the answer, what would that change? Maybe you are the way you are because you can't get normal attention from women. Maybe you're the way you are because you have a genetic mutation. Whatever.

Focus 100% on your BEHAVIOR and don't waste time on navel gazing.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't explore any deep-seated issues that are influencing your behavior. That's something that you can talk to a therapist about. But the immediate issue is that, while like almost all of us, you have sexual urges, UNLIKE most of us, you are acting out on them in an unacceptable way. You need to deal with that now.

(By the way, your problem isn't unusual. An experienced therapist has helped many people deal with compulsions -- sexual ones and other sorts.)

IF, after reading this thread, you take even one more picture, take that as a major sign that you need need help stopping. Get that help. Good luck.

PS. Unlike many here, I don't necessarily think you're a bad person (though I don't blame anyone -- especially the women here -- for feeling creeped out and threatened). You may have a problem that is not possible for you to solve on your own. It may be a problem you didn't ask for and that you've fought against (And good for you for posting about it here and crying out for help!) I can't blame you for something you can't control (if that's the case). I WILL blame you if you have a problem you can't control and you don't go get help for it!
posted by grumblebee at 7:05 PM on March 22, 2010 [39 favorites]


IF, after reading this thread, you take even one more picture, take that as a major sign that you need need help stopping. Get that help. Good luck.

This, this, a thousand times this. You're not a bad person; a bad person, instead of asking a bunch of notably-honest acquaintances how to stop being creepy, would loudly and offensively proclaim that it was God's Own Right for him to act this way and that it wasn't creepy at all. (Although, as an aside? The only thing that would be creepier is if you were buying these women banjos.) But . . . OK, well, I'm not a shrink of any kind, but it definitely seems like you have something going on that is preventing you from interacting with many people in a helpful, normal, or meaningful way. If you can't cut it out on your own, there's no shame in getting help for it.
posted by KathrynT at 7:53 PM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Last week, my friend was out walking her dog when a random guy followed her and took a picture of her. She went home, cried, and called the police. She told me she has never felt so unsafe, and she is now considering moving to another neighborhood.
posted by emilyd22222 at 8:10 PM on March 22, 2010 [27 favorites]


Dude, you need to cut this out. Not just because you're being pretty creepy, but because you are not doing right by yourself by indulging this behavior.

This is what disturbed me most about your post:
- I want attention from a hottie because not only would it be awesome but it would boost my self-esteem

If you're finding that you need to act out in some way towards other people to assist you with your self-image, that's pretty unhealthy, no matter what the circumstances are. Much less when you don't particularly care how that person feels about what you're doing--you are talking about women as a means to the end of your personal gratification. Talk to someone who you can trust and see if they can help you keep control of yourself in public, go to a therapist, do something. This is not a good way to be, and if you don't quite get that you are taking advantage of other people, at least grasp that long-term, acting like this is not going to take you any place that you want to go.
posted by _cave at 8:20 PM on March 22, 2010


If you think you're inconvenienced by seeing a hottie, to the extent where you wander around thinking about it for an hour or more, think about how "inconvenient" it is for a person to be approached and have their picture taken for maximum boobage by a random stranger.

As a woman who gets hit on by strangers a lot, I can only tell you that it is incredibly uncomfortable for me to navigate in the world, to the point where I barely leave my house and get most of my social interaction online. And it's been this way for the last 15 years. I haven't been able to finish my degree because of this issue. I have a mental illness that is directly exacerbated by this issue, and may have originally developed because of it.

The stuff you are doing contributes real harm to the world. Please consider your personal inconvenience a small price to pay to avoid causing real suffering to other human beings.

I'm sure you don't mean to cause harm. And because of that, I'm sure you'll consider doing whatever needs to be done -- including seeking help if necessary -- to not do this anymore.

I'm glad you bothered asking this question in the first place. So many people wouldn't have.
posted by Ouisch at 8:50 PM on March 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


If you do not get help, you will land yourself in serious trouble sooner or later, either legally or someone will kick the sh*t out of you. I'm not saying this to be mean, I'm telling you so that you realize how urgently you need to get professional help. Get treated now, while your behaviors and thoughts can still be categorized as merely *really, REALLY creepy,* before they escalate into the criminal realm.

Can't second this hard enough.
posted by davejay at 9:33 PM on March 22, 2010


I am really glad you are asking about this, because seeking help about this is an excellent start.

I am an amateur photographer. What you're describing re the photography is well outside accepted norms. You are going beyond just taking pictures in public and very much intruding into individual people's lives and personal space, in a way that sounds manipulative and possibly harmful to your subjects.

I cannot tell you what the cause of your behavior is, but you have begun to seek help by asking your question here. I recommend that you continue on this path to understanding and health with a professional that you can work with.

In the meantime, leave the camera at home.

Good luck.
posted by zippy at 9:42 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do other people do this?

No. no.no.no.no!!! Thank God no!!! Just stop. now. please! This is so very NOT COOL!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:47 PM on March 22, 2010


You've found a gap in the fence that rightfully protects us from the prosecution of thought crimes.

If you were a guy who took a lot of pictures, and upon reviewing them, found that you could "get my jollies from a pic" or two or three that would be one thing. But you're going in from the start hunting for jollies, and you know that the subject would almost certainly say no, if you asked permission to take that shot.

Yeah, I'll bet you're a master of super-stealthiness, and yeah, again, most people are pretty oblivious to what happens around them. I'll also bet you that at least one of your subjects was aware of what you were doing. For some sensitive or anxious people that could mean a lifetime with a less-than-complete feeling of security in public. That's a lot to take from someone.

Thought crimes, victim-less crimes? Sure, you'll find supporters -- but this is not victim-less. Stop it.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:57 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


What did you think people here would tell you? I can't help but wonder what part this thread plays in your fetish/obsession/fantasys.

Well, in case you really are wondering if this is a good management strategy; no, it's not, and in my opinion you are escalating.
posted by Iteki at 10:28 PM on March 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Get rid of every camera you own. Just like an alcoholic has a drinking problem, you have a camera problem and can't be trusted around cameras. Yes seek help, yes try to think of these women as people, follow all the advice in this thread but also no more cameras for you. Get a cell phone without a camera, do whatever you have to do, but not having a camera is the best way for you not to engage in the most egregious of your behaviors.

And as others have said it's very egregious. Like, so egregious that you can expect to get your ass kicked over it.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 10:33 PM on March 22, 2010


Be careful. the patterns you are exhibiting share features with the beginning behaviors of some very dangerous and unwell people. Not to say this is YOUR future, but a pattern of escalation seen in some serial rapists/killers starts off very similarly:

1. See a woman, have a strong "need" in relation to them. The women are not people, but objects and critical body parts. This is the road to hell:
- need to talk to her to fulfill the need & get relief
- need to take a picture of her to fulfill the need & get relief
- need to follow her home to fulfill the need & get relief
- need to watch her through her windows to fulfill the need & get relief
- need to break into her house to take a small insignificant item to fulfill the need & get relief
- need to break into her house while she is there to fulfill the need & get relief
- worse things.

That you are engaged in self-reflection doesn't mean that you are "safe" from going further down that road - again, lots of serial offenders keep diaries and talk a lot about their own behavior and whether or not it is right.

You need to take this:
a) out of your public behavior. no camera. no following. Do something else, something that only involves you - leave the women alone.
b) out of your own head: talk to a therapist, who will steer you away from self-absorption and towards useful self-reflection.
posted by Billegible at 10:45 PM on March 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


Another thing that many posters aren't noticing is the fact that they have significantly more information than the average person that meets this guy is going to have. You are probably creeped out because of the OP's boob fetish, his use of the word "hottie", etc. But remember, if you met him in real life, you don't have this information. All you know is that there is some guy (gal?) that likes to take candid pictures.

Since I see a lot of candid pictures on Flickr (and in newspapers and magazines), I assume that people in the real world are not going to get creeped out as much as posters here claim they will. Yeah, the OP has issues, but it's likely that his issues aren't going to harm anyone.

I also disagree with people that say this isn't OCD. Classic OCD manifests itself as an obsession that the sufferer tries to distract himself from with compulsions. The OP's obsession is pretty girls, the compulsion is taking pictures of them.

To answer directly; I expect to be photographed when I go out in public. The OP is not violating any fundamental expectations.

(Yeah, I think he's weird. But who isn't?)

I am surprised how much hate for the OP there is in this thread. It's clear that his interests are unusual, and it's clear that he is not going to get a date from anyone on AskMe this way. But that's all this hate boils down to; overreaction to the message, rather than the actions.

Dunno, but I highly doubt we are going to be reading about this guy in the police blotter anytime soon.
posted by jrockway at 11:20 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


grumblebee's post makes me remember that there is a Sex Addicts Anonymous.
posted by salvia at 11:27 PM on March 22, 2010


My concern for you, anonymous, is that if you keep doing what you are doing long enough, eventually a woman who is the object of your attentions will be

1) aware of your actions, and
2) afraid of you, as a result, and
3) armed, and a practiced shot (perhaps even an off-duty police officer), and
4) intent on confronting you, to retrieve pictures and sort out what kind of further threat you represent.

It may not go well, at all, for you, if such a confrontation occurs. Stop taking clandestine pictures immediately, and seek professional help, perhaps CBT, to re-direct your thinking and behaviors.
posted by paulsc at 11:32 PM on March 22, 2010


guys like you have done this to me, and i seriously, unapologetically hate you for it. you are not "making a connection" by ogling someone's tits then telling her how much you like her dress. you're forcing us to be polite to you, which you then interpret however you want, even though we'd rather just tell you to fuck right off. leave women alone until you're more under control. completely. seriously.

this is classic misogynist behaviour. your self-importance and the casual way you wrote about it is repulsive and upsetting. please, please seek help, at least for the sake of the women you're treating like shit.
posted by crawfo at 12:29 AM on March 23, 2010 [25 favorites]


Nthing professional help.

This kind of behavior just serves to isolate you further from actual women. You are likely to remain single for the rest of your life if this continues (I'm assuming you're not sexually active right now, based on the "hotties" and porn comments).
posted by benzenedream at 1:06 AM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ok: as a woman, if I saw you doing this to me, I would phone the police.

Also, if I saw you again while I was with a female friend, I would say "There's that creepy guy who took photos, watch out, he might be dangerous."

And trust me, if that female friend saw again you while she was with a female friend, she would say "Hey, watch out for that guy, he is really creepy and might be dangerous."

When people see the type of behaviour you describe, they feel scared, and they tell their friends, because they want to keep their friends safe. And their friends tell their friends...

This behaviour is hurting, not helping, your chance of human connection.

Please, see a counsellor.

And also, perhaps consider seeing a reputable sex worker?

Sex workers do a lot of good, helping lonely people who might not otherwise be able to have intimate, pleasurable experiences.

As Dan Savage put it: "There are sex workers out there who will not only get you off in exchange for your money... ...but will work with you on improving your skills and building up your confidence."
posted by Oceanesque at 1:30 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some have alluded to it above...this is wrong, yes - but its also dangerous for you personally.

Purely theoretical situation:

I'm out at a store or the bank or whatever with my sister / girl-friend / etc. and we happen to cross paths with you - anonymous, and you take it upon yourself to indulge in succoring your obsession.

Brother, I'm gonna fix your camera for you so that you don't have this problem again. Hopefully that will be where I stop, for your sake. Frankly I'm surprised you haven't run into something like this already.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:39 AM on March 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Seconding allkindsoftime. You're going to get beat up if you get caught. That should give you pause, even if all the GET HELP messages don't.
posted by RussHy at 4:54 AM on March 23, 2010



Jrockway: I also disagree with people that say this isn't OCD. Classic OCD manifests itself as an obsession that the sufferer tries to distract himself from with compulsions. The OP's obsession is pretty girls, the compulsion is taking pictures of them.


Again, this is not OCD. I'm glad you're weighing in on the debate though: we need more qualified medical professionals giving advice over the internet....oh wait....

The primary fact that people like you miss, when you give armchair diagnoses without knowing the disease, is that compulsions in OCD are driven by anxiety. OCD obsessions, and the following compulsions, are highly ego-dystonic. They are driven by extreme fear and panic.

While problematic sexual compulsion, in some ways resembles the 'compulsive' aspect of OCD, it is actually entirely distinct. You'll note that the obsessive thoughts are ego-syntonic: the actor enjoys them on some sexual level. And the compulsions are done in furtherance of that obsession (taking pictures "for the jollies"). With OCD, the thoughts are HIGHLY distressing, and the compulsions are done in order to AVOID the thoughts. It is not driven by the same neural mechanisms, and requires an entirely different form of treatment. I'm not entirely sure what OP is dealing with, nor do I think any of us can get an accurate picture from a written statement. He should see a qualified professional.

But FFS, it is not OCD, and PLEASE stop with the armchair diagnoses. You're going to get this guy the wrong treatment.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 5:32 AM on March 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


You sound like you have OCD and your behavior is concerning because if you're taking pictures and focusing on boobs and thinking this is ok, will you elevate your intrusion?

Go seek treatment. Otherwise you're going to take a picture of the wrong woman and get punched out by her or her boyfriend/husband/father.

Seriously.
posted by stormpooper at 5:43 AM on March 23, 2010


You are probably creeped out because of the OP's boob fetish, his use of the word "hottie", etc. But remember, if you met him in real life, you don't have this information. All you know is that there is some guy (gal?) that likes to take candid pictures.

I am surprised how much hate for the OP there is in this thread.

I hope what I'm about to say isn't a tangent. I'm addressing this just in case the OP is still feeling the same way as jrockway and wavering about whether what he's doing is okay.

If you met the OP in public, and the only thing you knew about him is that he'd focused on you, and maybe followed you around a bit to snap your picture, maybe you wouldn't be creeped out. And I would.

The entire reason for the difference in our reaction is, as you said, that each of us lack information about the OP in particular beyond his behavior.

Lacking that information, in order to determine an appropriate reaction, you have to fall back on other instances from your life of having a strange man focusing an unusual amount of attention on you personally for an unknown reason. And I have to fall back on instances from my life about it.

I would venture to guess that the overall life experience for an average man in that situation is vastly, vastly different than that of the average woman. Post childhood, how many times has a strange man (or woman!) focusing on you resulted in a scary situation, a violent one, or pervy reason, vs. an innocent one? I think the ratios would probably be just about opposite for us.

That is what leads to you thinking "meh, what's the big deal" and me thinking "scary!, you assuming "innocent behavior" and me thinking "pervy behavior." That's what leads you to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, as maybe just a photographer honing his craft, and me to not be able to give him the benefit of the doubt.

If you don't think our experience would be all that different, I really recommend this thread, which several people here have mentioned already. It's very long so if you can't get through the whole thing, I think Nattie's comment sums it up perfectly.

Since I see a lot of candid pictures on Flickr (and in newspapers and magazines), I assume that people in the real world are not going to get creeped out as much as posters here claim they will.

This is somewhat besides the point, but I actually think a lot of people *would* be creeped out if even someone who they knew for a fact was just a photographer, had snapped a shot of them going about their business and they were unaware of it. The point though is that even in a situation where a guy actually was innocent, taking random candids of just women would probably creep a lot of them out for the reasons I mentioned up above.

That said, what the OP is doing doesn't sound like an ambiguous situation at all! Lurking around, following around one or two specific random hot women, and photographing just their chest would require a massive amount of suspension of disbelief to explain away as just a well intentioned photography student.
posted by Ashley801 at 5:50 AM on March 23, 2010 [17 favorites]


This sounds more like a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder than a fetish. IANAD, but please see a psychiatrist (not a counselor or therapist: an MD who can prescribe and is not just a regular GP) because this sounds like a form of OCD and if it is, it is likely to be treatable with medications like Prozac before you wind up in real trouble.

This is a highly specific set of clinical recommendations that I would not make based on information anonymously posted to the Internet and without the clinical practice training necessary to make such determinations.
posted by The Straightener at 6:19 AM on March 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


As Dan Savage put it: "There are sex workers out there who will not only get you off in exchange for your money... ...but will work with you on improving your skills and building up your confidence."

That's an odd thing to write without adding any more information (and I'm responding more to Dan Savage than to Oceanesque). If it's true, it's potentially helpful to many people. I realize that Savage can't just write "and here are their phone numbers," because, in most places, sex for money is illegal. But how on Earth is one supposed to find one of these prostitute/therapists? If I was looking for one, I wouldn't know where to start.

I'll admit to having limited info about how to find hookers, but I imagine most people look in the back pages of free newspapers or on sites like Craigslist. Are there really people there who advertise as hookers and who are also qualified to work with you on your emotional/sexual problems?

There's something irresponsible about Savage writing that. It's like saying, "there's a miracle drug that will help you with your cancer" and then not giving any more information about it.

I'm wasting space in this thread, writing about this, because, in theory, a "therapist" like this might actually be able to help the OP. But where is he supposed to find her?
posted by grumblebee at 6:29 AM on March 23, 2010


To expand upon what some others have said regarding possible consequences to you, let me add that I carry pepper spray, and I know how to use it. And I'm surely not the only one.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:41 AM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I want attention from a hottie because not only would it be awesome but it would boost my self-esteem

As grumblebee points out the sex worker suggestion may be impractical, but maybe another idea is strip clubs. At a strip club a guy is basically paying attractive women to flirt with him. With a little suspension of disbelief about the paying part it can be boosting to the self-esteem.

But in any case, you can't photograph women this way, and you should follow one or more of the good recommendations in this thread.
posted by XMLicious at 7:12 AM on March 23, 2010


anonymous, I sincerely hope you take some of the great advice being given to you in this thread.

One thing I'd like to add:

allkindsoftime: Brother, I'm gonna fix your camera for you so that you don't have this problem again. Hopefully that will be where I stop, for your sake. Frankly I'm surprised you haven't run into something like this already.

If someone stalked, then took a picture of my wife's cleavage in my presence, I'd knock them into next week, then break their camera.
posted by zarq at 7:45 AM on March 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


in a "I need to get her attention somehow" kind of way. That feeling is strong enough that I've actually walked up to the person and told her, for example, that I like her outfit. And a lot of times, that'll make me feel better, and I carry on.

I hope you don't feel better because you made her day with that compliment. Because speaking as a woman, I hate when men approach me in public. Hate hate hate it. You like my outfit? Don't care. I am nervous and scared when men start talking to me unexpectedly and I put on a fake cheery polite smile and say "Thanks!" like a regular person.

But as soon as I turn around, that face falls off like a mask and I leave as soon as possible. Young guy, old guy, hot guy, whatever, doesn't matter. Now instead of just going about my business like a normal person I am going about my business knowing that someone else is watching me and passing judgment. It's a self-conscious feeling and I hope for your sake that you recognize the effect you are most likely having on these girls. Is that why you do it? Then nthing therapy.
posted by amicamentis at 8:20 AM on March 23, 2010 [18 favorites]


I just want attention

You may get a kind of attention you didn't plan for (see zarq above).

I just have to mention, as a woman who was a victim of childhood sexual abuse, and has had a shit-ton of therapy around it, if I saw you doing that, not just to me, but to another woman, you would have your face planted in the floor and I will hold your camera as evidence.

If that gets you off in any way or somehow fulfills that need for attention, you need serious psychological help. Not next week or after your next hunting session. TODAY. Right now. Bring this thread in to the doctor.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:33 AM on March 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Imagine, for a moment, that a significant portion of the population believed, based on your looks, that if they encountered you in public, you owed them a dollar. These people are total strangers to you, but they believe fervently that any time they see you in public, you are obligated to give them a dollar. They're willing to make polite conversation with you in the hopes that you'll willingly give them the dollar, but if you don't they're willing to follow you down the street and bug you about it until you fork it over. And if even that doesn't work, they're constantly scheming for ways to pick your pocket or steal your stuff in order to get the money that is rightfully owed to them by you and everyone who falls into the category of people like you who have spurned their dollar-seeking advances over the years.

After a lifetime of this, you'd likely be super-annoyed and out of patience with these people, wouldn't you? You'd (rightfully) suspect anyone who tried to chat with you in public of just trying to get their dollar out of you. You might even be afraid of most or all strangers, because you know that they're going to harass you until you hand over your money, and some of them may even get violent. But you'd still have to go out in public sometimes, to work or to buy groceries, and every time you did, someone would try to chat you up or put their hands on you in order to get their dollar. And every one of them would probably say, "why is that guy so angry and nervous? I'm only asking for a dollar, and that's not very much money, and if I take it out of his pocket without him knowing, he probably won't even notice that it's gone." Because they wouldn't be thinking about the thousands of times before that someone has asked you, pestered you, forced you to give up your dollars. They'd only be thinking about themselves, and their need to have their wallets filled by dollars from people like you.

I realize that this may be hard to imagine, but this is the reality of life for many women. A substantial portion of the population believes that they have a right to a woman's attention, and if they don't get it, they get offended, mean, and sometimes even violent. You're just one of many, many men who believe that any woman you like owes you something. It's exhausting and sometimes terrifying to be on the receiving end of that. If your goals involve, in any way, getting this woman to like you or making her happy, your current actions are diametrically opposed to achieving that. And if you're not concerned with the comfort and happiness of other human beings with whom you interact, I suggest that you get some professional help to determine why you view women you like as walking ATMs of attention for you.
posted by decathecting at 8:34 AM on March 23, 2010 [743 favorites]


maybe another idea is strip clubs.

No.

The way men and women interact with each other in strip clubs is not a way to learn healthy modes of communication. And I say that as a guy who went to a few such clubs in his reckless youth. I am not anti-strip club, but the OP is not the sort of guy who should be going to them. The women there, because they get PAID for being ogled, will reinforce his idea that such behavior doesn't hurt anyone. The women there (seem to) LIKE it!

Guys who are clueless about women have a hard time understanding that the way women act in strip clubs and porn is not the way most women act. Nor is it the way most women secretly want to act. But because sex-industry women act in ways that titillate men, it's very easy for some men to hold false beliefs, because those beliefs play into their desires.

And I doubt many men have had their self-esteem problems corrected (or even helped) in a strip club. Strip clubs are to self-esteem what alcohol is to shyness. If the only way you can get over your shyness problem is to drink a six-pack, you haven't gotten over your shyness problem. Strip clubs are an escape, not a solution.

I also don't buy that talking to a stripper is the first step in being able to talk to a "normal" woman. You don't need to do any work to talk to strippers. If they are good at their job, they will talk to you and they will keep the conversation going, and if there's a lull, well, that's time for a lap dance!

I am an introvert who has trouble talking to strangers (of either sex). If I'm at a party, and an extrovert talks to me -- and if he's good at drawing me out -- that can be a relief. But it doesn't help me beyond the confines of that particular party. I haven't learned anything about how to make small talk. I've just escaped from my problems for a little while.

I do think that the OP will be healthier if he finds SOME way of satisfying his boob fetish. Most people get very frustrated if they can't satisfy whatever turns them on. Obviously, the best way for him to satisfy it is within an adult relationship, but, barring that, there may be other outlets (porn, strip clubs, hookers, etc).

But it's key to realize that there are multiple problems here. Porn (etc) may help the OP release some frustration. It will NOT help him with his low-self esteem or bad social skills. A good therapist can help with both.
posted by grumblebee at 8:51 AM on March 23, 2010 [12 favorites]


[few comments removed - please stick to the topic]
posted by jessamyn at 9:58 AM on March 23, 2010


You may get a kind of attention you didn't plan for (see zarq above).

Just to be clear, I'm absolutely, positively not advocating violence as an appropriate response to the OP. But I would consider it a huge violation of my wife's privacy, personal space and welfare if someone took a picture of her cleavage without her permission, for many of the reasons stated throughout this thread.

Anonymous, what you are doing to women (whether you realize it or not,) is threatening behavior. At some point, you're no doubt going to experience a backlash, either from the subject(s) of your photos or from someone who wants to defend them.

On preview, this bears repeating:

Imagine, for a moment, that a significant portion of the population believed, based on your looks, that if they encountered you in public, you owed them a dollar. These people are total strangers to you, but they believe fervently that any time they see you in public, you are obligated to give them a dollar. They're willing to make polite conversation with you in the hopes that you'll willingly give them the dollar, but if you don't they're willing to follow you down the street and bug you about it until you fork it over. And if even that doesn't work, they're constantly scheming for ways to pick your pocket or steal your stuff in order to get the money that is rightfully owed to them by you and everyone who falls into the category of people like you who have spurned their dollar-seeking advances over the years.

decathecting, that was very, very well said.
posted by zarq at 10:11 AM on March 23, 2010


OP, even if you are now upset at the bluntness of the responses, please don't shut down. Please get help.
Your suspicions are correct, there IS something wrong with you and there are other ways for you to deal with this. You need to find these ways.
Good for you for asking this question. Get help. Good luck.
posted by Omnomnom at 10:47 AM on March 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I'm with the people in the "don't compliment" category. It'll be really obvious to the women you're objectifying that your intentions are creepy, and you're probably already leering at them. Seek help.
posted by NoraReed at 12:13 PM on March 23, 2010


Seriously...women aren't stupid. Because so many of us get not well-intentioned attention so frequently, we generlly can tell (or at least are likely to suspect) that a random stranger wanting to take our picture has more to it than just candid photography.
posted by Ouisch at 12:22 PM on March 23, 2010


(And that's *even if we play along* for the sake of placating someone who we sense might wish to cause us harm. And you may not even be aware that that's what's going on when a woman seems not to reject your advances.)
posted by Ouisch at 12:23 PM on March 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Taking a candid picture of an attractive woman seems like such a small thing, doesn't it?

It's not. I'm one of those unfortunate women who gets targeted frequently, and it has seriously, and irreversibly affected how I exist in the world. No longer do I walk through the streets with open-minded curiosity. No longer do I feel safe at home with my shades up. No longer can I go for a run alone without wearing a baggy layer over my real running clothes. No longer do I start conversations with even the most kindly strangers.

No, now I walk through the streets with an unnatural and well-practiced stare, avoiding even a split second of eye contact with men who take even the most fleeting, accidental glance as proof that I'm interested. I lock all doors and windows and pull down all the shades if I'm home alone. I wear baggy track pants over my running tights if I have to run alone. I avoid talking to anybody in public.

You know what? It SUCKS, and the world is no longer a safe place for me. But you'd feel the same if you were molested on the subway, followed through dark streets at night, catcalled every 10 minutes while walking outside alone, approached by men with bad intentions in bus stations, sexually harassed over email, generally objectified by a not-insignificant number of people in this world, and, yes, photographed illicitly. Even one of these experiences is frustrating and creepy, but 10 years of these experiences leaves you a less confident, more frightened, less open person.

My advice: don't think about the inconvenience you suffer when you leave an encounter with an attractive women having said nothing. Instead, think about how she might feel. Objectified? Worried that it's her DUTY to hide away her body because others can't control themselves in public? Worried that somehow it's her fault that she was targeted, and that she must change her behavior to avoid feeling so uncomfortable? Worried that her picture will end up on the internet and that people will see it and possibly blame her? Scared that you might be a violent person? Scared to ever return to that place?
posted by Cygnet at 3:27 PM on March 23, 2010 [17 favorites]


This sounds like a very icky [but garden variety] control issue to me. As in: you can't get over your rather obvious fear of meeting someone you find attractive and seeing where it goes from there; instead, you need to exert your control over her by getting right into her personal space and stealing a photo.

It's not the (hot!) boobies! thing that you're getting off on at all, is it? It's about you being all in charge of the situation. You get to photograph the unsuspecting, defenseless, vulnerable female-type, and there's naught she can do to stop you, big guy. You win.

Thing is, if you're too scared to forge a friendship/relationship with these women, then... you're not really in charge, no matter what kind of artificial means you use to gain control of her. It's not real. None of it.

You seem to want us to ask you questions, so I'll bite:

How do your friends assess your behavior?

Do women at work tend to keep distance between themselves and you?

Do you have any female friends? If so, do they know about your little hobby?
posted by heyho at 3:42 PM on March 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


"This is the road to hell"

Agreed. My first thought on reading the OP's question (before reading any of the responses) was, "I wonder how long until his compulsion escalates to raping and killing them and then cutting off a body part for a souvenir?"

Because OP, your thoughts and behaviors are at the beginning of the continuum that leads to that. You are treating your "need" to satisfy your compulsion to "connect" and get something from them as more important than the rights, needs, and feelings of the women you're dehumanizing.

I'm not usually one to add to the "get therapy" pile-ons but in this case you really, really, really need it.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:22 PM on March 23, 2010


Please get help from a psychiatrist. Specifically, I think you should try to find someone who has experience with sex offenders. I don't think you are yet a sex offender and you may not ever become one. However, it seems like you have many of the beliefs about women that sex offenders also have.

As many others have stated, you have seemingly objectified women to the point that you don't see them as human beings. Further, you sneak around with a camera trying to "capture" them. They do not want to you to compliment their outfits, let alone take a picture of their breasts. This seems creepy and disturbing to me. Luckily, you seem to realize you have a problem. I believe you have a serious problem. A psychiatrist who has worked with sex offenders may be able to help you with some of your unhealthy beliefs and behaviors. Please get the help you need before you seriously harm someone.

You are most likely scaring these women. Your behavior would be terrifying to me. I really hope you don't get off on terrifying women. I've had things like this happen to me and when I confronted the guy, he typically says, "What? I thought you were pretty, that's all." No, it's extremely creepy and terrifying. It is not a compliment. This is the reason I look over my shoulder while getting into my car and peer into my back seat before opening the door. It's the reason, I don't walk outside after dark without my dog. The list goes on and on.

Please do whatever it takes to see a psychiatrist as soon as possible.
posted by parakeetdog at 8:50 PM on March 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


I have a male friend who notices attractive women in public and feels compelled to talk to them. He does a good job of seeming non-threatening because he makes a point of sounding a little over-the-top when he compliments them in passing... instead of "Hey, um, I like your dress" he says something like "You are rocking those Jimmy Choos! You go, girl!" And more importantly, he just keeps on walking. He doesn't linger around expecting a "thank you" or even any sort of acknowledgment. I think that's the difference between a "good" compliment and the kind of exchange that makes women hesitant to leave their houses.

I was going to suggest that you try this approach, anon, but I suspect it wouldn't work for you, because you seem very focused on getting "attention" from the women you fixate on by forcing them to converse with you, and not at all focused on boosting someone else's self-esteem (which is, in theory, the point of giving a compliment).

As for justifying your photography habit by saying that "regular porn is just so unrealistic"? If you're internet-savvy enough to post an anonymous question to AskMe, you're internet-savvy enough to sample the amazing, ever-expanding array of free amateur porn that exists online. If you really just wanted to admire some side-boob shots of pretty girl-next-door types, there are entire blogs dedicated to that sort of thing. This suggests to me that you're getting your "jollies" not from the pictures, but from the act of the surreptitious picture-taking itself. The pictures are just trophies. And that, combined with your need to force interactions with women, makes it seem very much like you are actually getting off on the possibility of making strangers frightened or uncomfortable.

I don't think you sound like a rapist or serial-killer in the making, and it doesn't even sound like your intentions are bad, but I do think it's disturbing that you haven't considered the negative impact that your attentions could be having on their recipients. It also sounds like you probably have fairly low self-esteem, since you receive a boost whenever a pretty girl so much as acknowledges your existence. And you don't mention striking up the kind of conversation that could lead to a meaningful connection, which makes me think that you're afraid of the rejection that could result if you actually exchanged more than a sentence or two with these women. This all seems like very good stuff to address in therapy.
posted by arianell at 2:00 AM on March 24, 2010


Yeah, I'll bet you're a master of super-stealthiness, and yeah, again, most people are pretty oblivious to what happens around them.

Really? I heard from a good friend's sister that her friends noticed the attention they got. High school boys might be worse at being subtle, but I've always assumed that checking out a woman is not "free" to the ogler's reputation or the oglee's sense of well being.
posted by morganw at 4:20 PM on March 24, 2010


Women are VERY fine tuned to notice this type of behavior. We may seem "oblivious" but we're not. If we are facing you, we know. And by "facing" I mean, if you can see our face - any portion of it - we can see you. And we know what you're doing. And it disgusts us. We're not oblivious, but 9 times out of 10, it's just easier to ignore it. You're never doing this on the sly. It's creepy. Get help.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:17 PM on March 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


And it disgusts us.

I think it's important for someone to say, at least once in this thread, that this is not universally true of all women. I have known women who enjoy having strange men stare at their cleavage. (Or at least to claim to enjoy it, when they have nothing to gain by lying.) This fact in no way means that doing so is right. It's not, because the overwhelming majority of women DON'T like it, and, in fact, are threatened by it.

But any guy who spends as much time doing what the OP does is necessarily going to meet a few outlier women who enjoy his attentions. And it will be easy for him to extrapolate from that the idea that, while women in this thread are opposed to it, there are others who like it, so it's all just a matter of taste, and why should he kowtow to the taste of the women here?

One way to answer this is to say that many of the women who seem to like it are just being polite. Some of us were brought up to be polite, and have trouble quitting that behavior, even when we are offended or scared. And some women may be pretending to enjoy it out of fear -- bitter experience telling them that they need to act like they like it and CONVINCE the guy that they like it, because to do otherwise might put them at risk of violence.

But even after you factor out all those women, there are still some who DO genuinely enjoy the attention. Too bad for them, because -- as a culture -- we need them to not get what they want. If they want that kind of attention, they can go to a singles bar or whatever, but they need to stop looking for it on the street.

There are masochists who like to be beaten, but that's not an excuse to go around hitting people, just because a few people like it. So know that when you get that sense that a particular woman enjoys your attention -- if, in fact, you ever get that sense -- then maybe you're right, but that STILL does not excuse your behavior. We should all strive to maximize the amount of happiness in the world, and your behavior does the opposite, because it offends and frightens way way WAY more people than it pleases.

Sorry if I've offended anyone by going against the grain of "we women hate this." As a man, I feel particularly uncomfortable claiming otherwise. However, I know that there is a great variety of people in this big, big world. And some of them are very different from you and me.

What I don't want to happen is for the OP to read all the women posting here and think, "Sure. That's one point of view. But I have to balance that against the women who told me she was flattered that I took her photo." OP, it doesn't matter.
posted by grumblebee at 8:50 AM on March 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


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