I used to interpret for a Domestic Violence Treatment Program. Men were court ordered to enroll, after they were arrested for domestic violence. As an interpreter, my job was to help the Spanish speakers participate in the class, to check that they completed their workbook homework, answer questions, etc.
I interpreted for an extremely good-looking man. He had no problem catching the eyes of women with his green-blue eyes and sandy blonde hair. The problem was, that even though he was extremely handsome, he spent his evenings enrolled in domestic violence treatment programs due to his knack for beating up his wife.
Here I am, a young woman, interpreting for this man. He knew he was handsome, and even though we met in a domestic violence program, of all places, he would look at me with “that look”. The one with desire in his eyes, the one that all people in all cultures understand, there is no doubt he is flirting and trying to gain her romantic interest.
Then there’s me, the kind, sweet, give-all-people-the-benefit-of-the-doubt woman who didn’t know how to respond to these gazes. So I told my boss about it.
My boss suggested, that the next time I caught Mr. Violent Blue Eyes staring, to call him out on it. I had the authority in the room.
I could simply ask, “what does it mean when you look at me like that?”
So I took the advice.
When checking Mr. No Boundaries’ homework the next week, I caught him staring. Without hesitation, I asked, “what does it mean when you look at me like that?”
Feeling caught, he denied the flirtatious gaze and mumbled an excuse.
His eyes begged mine a second time, and I spoke the same question.
“You’re staring. What does it mean when you look at me like that?”
“Nothing, nothing at all. I just had a question about my homework.”
Sure, you did. Stop.
Stop, he did. He felt embarrassed, caught, and didn’t want me to keep asking him such a personal question. So he stopped, and began treating me with more respect.