Though men feel it is a natural thing to do and shouldn’t be offensive to anyone, the women find it quite insulting and many have continued to silently suffer with it while others have opted to cheat on their men, or worse, storm out of the relationship.
The practice of turning the head to get an eyeful of a woman with desirable curves or pretty face is a vice many men confess to having failed to suppress, few getting away without a reprimand from their partners.
William, who opted to narrate his experiences on condition of anonymity, says the ‘optical nutrition’ as he calls it, has not only earned him hot slaps but also dumped his previous relationship on the rocks.
William says his first girlfriend, whom he only identifies as Carol, warned him on their first date against staring at other women in her presence.
“When I first met Carol, we went for a date and a pretty and well-dressed woman passed by us and sat nearby. I kept staring at her before Carol tapped me and reminded me how such behaviour hurts every woman,” he says.
The warnings did not make much of a difference because, William says, staring at other women is a weakness he has failed to overcome, though he believes he has tried his best.
After being stretched to the limit, Carol finally humiliated William at Lido beach, Entebbe, when she slapped him and poured his drink on him for staring at women in bikinis, before she walked away, accusing him of having thoughts of infidelity.
“After she had warned me on several occasions, I tried not to stare at other women for a few days, but the habit kept creeping back on me until she slapped me in public and bathed me in beer. She walked away, saying I was naturally a cheat,” says William.
William’s experience seems to attest to the saying that old habits die hard, but for him, it was an unforgettable one because it also marked the end of a relationship with a woman he says he dearly loved.
“I had tried to explain to Carol that staring at other women was harmless and only a weakness, but she would have none of it. She promised to slap me over and over in public in order to put me straight,” explains William.
“I tried working within Carol’s demands but we kept on fighting over the issue. She eventually gave me an ultimatum to either change or she walks out of the relationship. Indeed, failing to control my wandering eyes caused us to break up. It is then that I realised that what we men call optical nutrition really hurts the women while we continue taking it very lightly.”
Iduwat Ochom, a Kampala-based lawyer, argues that most men stare at other women in the presence of their partners by default, adding that some carry on with the ogling without realising it hurts the women. He believes that since the habit usually starts and ends with just staring, it is something women should lose little sleep over.
WHY NOT STARE AT ME?
“I think it is impulsive. It is more of a default setting for most men to stare at other women,” says Ochom. He agrees though that such behaviour by men hurts women in the sense that it makes them feel unappreciated.
“Whereas men may take it as mere looking, I am sure women feel like you are appreciating the other woman more and is more attractive than her,” says Ochom.
Women loathe with a passion this particular mannerism associated with many a man. They consider it to be very disrespectful to the woman the man promised to love. Majorine Awori, a third- year student of Information Technology at Uganda Christian University, says no woman should tolerate the so-called optical nutrition exhibited by a man, and just like Carol, Awori thinks a slap would work best to restore sanity to such a man.
“I have no time to waste with such a man. I slap you, and turning your head to stare at another woman is an ideal position for your cheeks to properly receive a hot slap. This would be seriously undermining me,” she says, accusingly.
Her stand, however, is that she would forgive a first offender.
“If you do it for the first time, I forgive you, but the second time, I slap you and leave you there, or even pour the drink on you so that you don’t make a move on the lady after I have left,” she says.
Jackie Nabuufu, a fine artist, believes the man has to concentrate on her once he takes her out.
“By the time you take me out it means you are satisfied with my looks, so why would you turn to stare at other ladies; why not stare at me because I believe you admired me in the first place?” Nabuufu asks.
APPRECIATING GOD’S CREATION
On whether women too enjoy staring at other men in the presence of their partners, Awori and Nabuufu both claim they can only admire one man at a time.
“If I say yes to you, why would I go admiring other men in your presence? Not even a prostitute does that, and because we know how it hurts, we try to give you maximum attention, but men do the very opposite,” opines Awori.
Though the duo hold the same view, Eunice Owomugisha, a bank teller with Equity bank, has a more liberal one. She believes that no one can stop a man from staring at other attractive women, noting that what matters is where he spends the night.
“We sometimes need to face reality. No woman can stop her partner from staring. But what we should mind more about is winning the biggest share of his heart. Though he stares, at the end of the day we go back home together. So, where is the problem?” Owomugisha wonders.
After all, she argues, there is no problem with a man appreciating God’s creation. She says just like some men do, she too appreciates handsome men, but that does not qualify her as a cheat, just like it would not qualify her husband to be one.
Owomugisha faults Carol for slapping William. “That lady will never settle with any man unless she visits her Ssenga. For God’s sake, how do you slap a man in public just for ‘feeding’ his eyes? What about when she gets him, pants down, cheating; what would she do?” she asks.
Owomugisha says, though she is not a Ssenga, she believes women need to take advantage of their husband’s visual orientation by making themselves as appealing to their spouses as possible.
She says it is often so easy to make an effort trying to look good for other people, while failing to make similar efforts for your partner, yet they are the ones you should be trying to impress.
As if to agree with Owomugisha, Alan Asanga, a Kenyan national operating a phone business in Kireka, says it is normal for a man to keep admiring attractive women, whether married or not, because that is what beautiful women were made for.
Asanga says unlike their Kenyan counterparts, Ugandan women are beautiful and know how to flout fashions that enhance their figures. His view is that there is just no way men would stop staring at women, not even when they notice a wedding band on their fingers.
Silvia Nakajubi, a marriage counselor at Revival church, Kireka, believes women need to let their partners know how the staring and ogling affects them, rather than coming at him with guns blazing, noting that such actions push the men away.
“Open up your heart and tell him how it hurts your feelings when you see him staring at other women. Ask him what you need to do in order to keep him looking at you,” she advises.
She, however, points out that men’s staring behaviour could very well be a sign of other underlying issues such as sexual dissatisfaction from men, or even a boring married life, leading them down the path of fantasising about other women.
Nakajubi believes sitting down to discuss the problem is a better solution than giving slaps in public places. She warns that such actions would only expedite the collapse of an already troublesome relationship.