International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 30, Issue 1, Spring 2016

John Draeger
Pages 163-174

Everyday Sexism
What’s the Harm in Looking?

Men often allow their eyes to linger over the least bit of exposed cleavage or uncovered knee. This paper considers the harm done by such looks. Taken individually, male looks may not seem that bad. They need not cause direct harm and need not be done with malicious intent. Like environmental degradation, however, the accumulation of individually imperceptible harms pollutes the moral environment, especially given a long history of gender discrimination. Given the complexity of the gendered environment, I appeal to the virtue ethics tradition and suggest that men should seek to do the right thing at the right time in the right way given the setting and relationship with the particular individuals in question (e.g., friends, co-workers, lovers).