Introduction: The title was written as description of three main items addressed in the text, not as a description of what women are (unwanted attention and social phobia not being a woman issue but as being a social issue regardless gender, which I attempted to explain in the text). I understand that most readers expect to understand the text based on the title but here is supposed to be the other way round.
Women, unwanted attention and social phobia is not really about woman, but I use women behavior to explain a perception I have about German Society in comparison to others societies, to give my understanding about people in society of any kind, based on my personal experiences and readings. The text is about social alienation and social identity. In short, the social phobia comes from the social alienation (disconnection), which are the affects of our (aggressive/defensive) social behavior, regardless gender.
If you walk paying attention on how your legs walk, you tend to walk in an awkward way. Your best walk is when you walk unaware on how your legs do it. The same way a painter or a writer will do their paintings and writings in an uncomfortable way if they pay attention on their tools and fingers when working. As a photographer I feel that my best photos happen when the camera becomes an extension of my arm, so I don't have to pay much attention on the tool itself which would be in the way of my attention to what I am photographing. Allan Watts exemplify saying that we know when the shoes or belt we wear is conformable when we walk and forget about it. If the shoes or any other accessory we wear keeps remind us about itself, catching our attention because we feel something about it, it means it's not comfortable and it becomes a distraction, on the way of our attention to other things and to our spontaneity. The very same happens with self-awareness. When we are self-aware, that means the attention of oneself before any other attention, reminding us about who we are, what we are doing and how we are doing it, we become uncomfortable and awkward, because we have our attention is our body position, body movements and its many meanings. It's watching ourselves as if in the eyes of others (who are actually watching us) that blocks our spontaneity. This is why the best actors are the ones who forget they are acting, by stopping watching what they are doing as if in the eyes of an other person (their spectators in a theater for example), and become or incorporate their acting characters, feeling its pain and pleasure as their own. Otherwise the acting looks fake, artificial, awkward, or simply acting.
Women (specially the attractive ones) often suffer the stress of unwanted attention. Even worst when it turns into catcalling. You get the awareness of the dirty eyes from others. When one get too much of it it becomes toxic, polluting the attention and mood in it. We know that many men catcall because they know, or have a high expectancy, that women and others around will not react and confront them, or repress them, about it. They feel an individual freedom to do it, as well as a cultural freedom or duty as a prove to others and themselves that they are a man, a real man. Like years ago, when I was with a friend walking in the streets of Israel, I noticed a beautiful woman who my eyes felt hypnotized, but I only became aware of my gaze when I notice she acting uncomfortable and I quick looked away. I told my friend how uncomfortable and unhappy I feel when I make women feel uncomfortable with my attention to their beauty. He told me that as a man I am not supposed to be ashamed of making women uncomfortable, otherwise it shows them I am insecure and women like men who are confident and dominant in attitude, like looking at a woman with no shame when attracted to her, according to him. And he's right, but only when the woman feel attracted to such man, so she wants his attention. If he is confident and spontaneous it shows he believes to have something to offer, as well good experiences that lead to his confidence, of what Frederic Lordon calls as the Acting Power, that on the eyes of others it can be confirmed when the guy is around friends, specially women who have the joy of being around him, and eventually his confidence end up convincing someone that he has indeed something to offer (The economics of Joy, which I will write about someday soon). But he is always risking at put some women in an uncomfortable situation, specially if he is alone or depending the situation.
A man may be more conscious and cautious in order to make sure women who he interacts with feels completely safe and comfortable, who consequently may feel more comfortable around him, but with the risk of being over cautious with a woman who may be interested on him and expecting a confident, dominant, doubtless attitude of him towards her, that if not shown he becomes an insecure man to her (a socially not man enough, because for society a real men is always sure about himself, about what they do, about what they have to offer).
Robert Levenson did a long study with couples emotion, finding that the longer the allele in serotonin transport gene, the less sensitive the person is to the environment emotional stimulus, while the sorter is the allele the more sensitive is the person to emotional stimulus. If we place two person in an situation that stimulates them to feel happy and then sad, the person with shorter allele will react more to such stimulus, feeling more happy and then more sad than the person with the longer allele. It could be the reason why people mood and atmosphere around me causes great effect on my mood as well. So if I feel a person is feeling unconformable, it makes me feel uncomfortable as well, such as the woman who I was gazing. If I am not wrong I guess we can call it empathy, the counter-transference of putting yourself on the an other person shoes and feel as the other person feel or may be feeling.
I watched a documentary about Incels (self-denominating involuntary celibates men) and what got my attention the most was when the teacher, in the documentary, says that it's not merely about feeling sexually frustrated but about feeling socially excluded. I used to believe that women are more or less friendly to men as reaction to how men approach women and condition women behavior. It may be true to a certain point and places but it's not an universal law, it vary from place to place and from people to people. After living and moving among different countries and cultures I came to realized it's a vicious cycle, with men and women conditioning each other. I can tell that where women are friendly even when rejecting a man, men tend to accept better the rejection because they don't feel segregated, humiliated but socially accepted and understood. The contrary, with empty aloofness, scare or disgust women or any human being can cause others irritation, because it means social segregation, as if you are treating others inferior than you and it makes others to feel not accepted socially (not welcome for the social joy). Others may say they only need to grow thick skin and brush it out, but it's easier to judge others as over sensitive when the one who is judging have close friends or a family where they have a sense of belonging in this world, otherwise one feel alienated, displaced, and the number of people aging in solitude is growing as never before.
Solitude is nowadays a disease. As a social animals, being alone, feeling segregated cause us emotional distress with side effects worst than smoke and drinking. Lonely people have a shorter living expectancy, higher risk of heart disease and have higher chances of develop cancer, all because of the distress of feeling socially excluded.
In a social media some Americas were saying that they are over stressed because they work too long hours, which is true but in Europe, such as in Nordic countries and specially in Germany, people are also often easily over stressed. I believe it's because people don't like to interact with strangers. When you feel apart/alienated from others around you feel hostile. When I first arrived in Germany I wasn't much bothered by women in supermarket counter turning their face away from me when I was paying for my groceries, without me doing any kind of verbal or visual interaction with them. Later I noticed that some women also turn their back to me when I am being introduced to their friend's cycle, as well as when stepping in public transport I notice women looking angry at me for apparently no reason at all, they all seem in distress. I thought first it was some kind of xenophobia, and it actually is to a certain extend when you feel socially alienated and afraid of others, disconnected from strangers who we have to be careful about. Talking about it, it was confirmed to me that women in Germany do it as precaution, just in case I, as a man, hit on them and such kind of misandry is not only acceptable but expected as cultural. Whenever I talk about it people tell me that it will never change, that it's their culture or a simply women thing (as saying that I have to forget it and pretending everybody id doing fine), despite the fact I have never experienced anything like it anywhere else I have been other than in Germany. To me it's like saying that it's ok to be racist or antisemitic just in case, and it should be accepted because it's a cultural thing, which I don't agree. It will never change indeed because people refuse to talk about it. And it's not only bad for men who suffer misandry but also for women, because if they behave like this it means they fear others as have the potential of highly hostile against them, even in one of the most safe places in the world like Germany.
I see people burning out for small stupid things that could be easily solved with a little talk. But people hesitate and avoid talking afraid of others reaction, creating a kind of social phobia. Instead people expect to conform, so everyone should conform on certain behavior and agree to things which help them not need to talk and interact with others. If you don't conform people show their reprehension with dirty look and other kinds of frustrating reaction, and in such social control you feel being hostile. Little mistakes are not acceptable and frustrate people for have to deal with strangers. The Nordics like to blame the weather but in Ireland and Canada people are much more relaxed and easy even with their dark winters and wet weathers (because they have a more liberal culture - I am using the "liberal " word not in a political meaning here), because they don't feel alienated from others.
There are two kinds of freedom because there are two kind of self in every person: the individual and the social, each of them limiting the freedom of the other to a certain extend. People today talk a lot about freedom but If not considering the two kinds of freedom the talk is just a no sense ideological sophism. Social freedom means safety from others in society according to Montaigne, which requires a certain control and limit (responsibility) on the individual freedom. If you want a total individual freedom you are being against social freedom (individual safety from others in society). Despite the nihilists, one of the main reason (if not the main reason) we live in society and think society is for the individual safety sake.
We live in a society of control, which Deleuze described to be in gradual change from what Foucault called Disciplinary society. The disciplinary society may not be completely vanished yet but many of its characteristics we find still strong in more conservative societies. Although Germany have a very liberal approach to individual affairs, the German social conduct and mentality to changes (which they are averse) are very conservative. So we can still find strong characteristics of a disciplinary society in Germany, that is based on social hierarchical observation, normalizing judgement and examination that induce people to control their behavior to a standard. The first means that people has the duty to observer everyone's behavior. This is why in Germany it's normal and a cultural thing to stare or give long gazes to others in the streets. If you act different people watch you, not as spectators but as judges, because you are suppose to conform. It's important and kind of funny to have to tell that most Germans are not even consciously aware about it, but unconsciously they react to it the same way a person who claims to not like or care about Picasso paintings reacts somatically to Picasso's works, without realizing it. It means that both men and women experience unwanted attention and suffer the natural human distress about it, of feeling constantly observed and consequently behaving awkwardly and in introversion (which Germans are well aware and considering part of their cultural personality, although not questioning its causes), for watching themselves as in the eyes of others and not being able to be spontaneous. Consequently, as part of conformity duty, you are not expect to question much but to accept, to conform. Questions are often seem as an attempt to not accepting, to not conform, to break the rules, to promote changes.
The conformity seems to be part of an other psychological aspect: Identity. Before Nation-States people had their identities associated to ethnicity. The use of ethnicity to judge other individuals based on a supposed natural tendencies of their ethnical qualities and vices. Some countries today, like in Germany, strong kept some aspect of it. Reason why we find so many people born in Germany, from second or third generation of immigrant families, still being seen and called as Turkish, Italians, Portugueses, etc. The concept of nationality came with Enlightenment values, that every person has to be seen as equal and responsible for their own individual success and failures, which required the formation of Nation-States, where the political body would be apart from the social body. So under the Nation-State comes the nationality, under which one is supposed to be seen not as belonging to an ethnical value but seen as equal under the law and included in the society identity regardless their blood origin. Many countries in Europe conserved the tradition of seeing the individual not a mere individual belonging to the nation, but as a individual belonging before anything else to an ethnicity (and its supposed mentality, qualities and vices) and conformity (the mentality of people who try to know you by asking you where you are from and what your profession is, instead of trying to know and understand your world perspective as a individual). To conform is a way to feel belonging to a group, as being socially included, as have its identity. In such view, when questioned about one social conforming and group perspectives, they feel as if their identity is being attacked.
Along with it all there is the social willful blindness. Oliver Sacks narrates that Tourette's syndrome was well reported with many cases and with a rich literature from it's discover in 1885 until the end of its century. Charcot, Freud, Babinski and Tourette (the syndrome discoverer) were among the last of their professionals with a combined vision of soul and body, the "it" and the "I", in neurology and psychiatry. At the turn of the century professionals started to interpret the "I" (the mind) as independent or apart from the "it" (the body). The soulless neurology and bodyless psychology. In this change, not only the understanding of Tourette's syndrome disappeared but the syndrome itself had disappeared as well. No more reported cases, no more literature about it. It was took as extinct. Many professionals even thought the past literature was a mythical report of naive imaginative professionals from the past, because they could not be converted in the new framework tradition of 20th century neuroscience and psychology. Oliver Sacks claimed to have never seen a patient with Tourette's syndrome, until in 1971 when he published an article about Tics in the Washington Post. Many people who read it wrote to Oliver Sacks telling him that they have the symptoms he had described in the article. After visiting one of his correspondents, Sacks realized that the man he went visit had Tourette's syndrome. Not only that, after the visit, Oliver Sacks could easily identify many people in the streets of New York with Tourette's syndrome, only by walking home and from home to work.
Often, when I try to talk about such subjects, many Germans tell me that they don't stare, they just look a little longer to others and there is nothing wrong about it. But then, why women behave in such distress and men have apprehensive manners? Because of the lack of talking and awareness, it seems to me that women think they are the only ones being gazed at, and men are the only ones gazing at, as if it's (only) a man thing and not a German culture thing. And it's half funny and half depressing experiencing every day being stared at by women which causes me to naturally look back at them, because it's what we do when we feel there are eyes watching us. But when I look back at them they react in distress as if I have any interest on them in particular, as if I am being a toxic man when in fact they are unaware they have been inconveniently staring at me first. When I avoid to look back, pretending I don't know they are looking at me, their stares became even stronger, longer and annoying, because we know they are not looking and judging with good eyes. I am a visual disturbance.
I am not suggesting that the privatization of a social problems is exclusive to Germanic culture, it's actually an industry which by ignoring a problem that is social, people are induced to believe that is not the society that has to change but you as individual who has a problem for feeling affected and react negatively to society's problems, convincing people to join classes and buy materials for meditation, going to experts talking about self-improvement, buying self-help books and even convincing people that they need to do more sports. Meditation and sports are good in themselves for personal health, but not good when used as tools to ignore that people stress is a social condition and not an individual one.
A lot of Germans (at least in the internet, which is a small group that do not represent the nation as a whole) get really irritated and aggressive against me when I touch such subject, because they convince themselves that I am being against their culture and consequently their country, when in fact my allele in serotonin transport gene is probably way too short and feeling the heavy atmosphere among women (and men) in distress, storming reacting or in fear for no apparent reason effects me, and I can't help thinking about it, trying to understand it (as I try to to understand societies, humans and life in general) and hope for its eventual change although I don't have much faith on it. I don't have anything against the culture or the country but I care about others well being, regardless cultures, ethnicity and nationality. Specially my well being. I just don't like to ignore the problem pretending it's a individual problem. It's a social problem that people may try to ignore in order to conform, but somatically they can not ignore it.
Rules are for reproduction,
Art, thinking, reality and the contemplative mind.
My attention is not in technical perfectionism.