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Clueless dude seeks clue

I consider myself a feminist, and also a humanist, and I try to be respectful of all people. I try to be sensitive to others' feelings.

But I'm also a dude with a wandering-eye problem. If I see a female and she's attractive, I check her out. I try not to stare, I try not be creepy and objectifying, but I really don't know what the "rules" are to this. So, serious question: how bad is it to check out a woman (or dude. I sometimes check out dudes. Does that make it okay?)? Is there a definable line between casual glancing and creepy staring? Does it make it okay if I remind myself "This woman is not just an object of beauty for me to apreciate: she is her own being with a right to dignity, and a beautiful creation of God, just like all other humans"? Is it possible that I'm overthinking this?


I know the MRA justification is something like, "I'm a male, and staring is my right because evolution and cavemen" and I know that's pretty much bullshit, or at least bullshit with an iota of reason, which is the worst kind of bullshit. I know enough not to be a street harasser, to not shout "compliments" and suggestions to females I find attractive, to not creepily follow someone, or to stare at their breasts while having a conversation with them. I know enough to not use the standard "well, I wouldn't mind if someone checked me out," because I am not the cosmos (yet). I also know that there are a few contexts — such as a con — where it is okay to compliment a stranger's outfit (e.g. "That is an amazing Sexy Steampunk Zombie Robot Strawberry Shortcake costume. How did you make that copper-tubed Rainbow gun?")

I've wondered all this for a while, and I figured this was a good forum to ask.

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