After a man was unknowingly captured on video “admiring” a woman’s appearance, an intense debate erupted online. While some praised the man, others pointed to what they believed was the “disturbing” reality that the response to his actions allegedly demonstrated.
Barbara Gambatesa, a TikTok star who rose to popularity by posting videos of her dancing salsa and bachata, is certainly no stranger to the attention of men. So, one would think that a man admiring the dancer’s appearance would be far from newsworthy, but the internet seemingly disagreed. Instead, the man’s actions, which were caught on video, caused an intense debate on social media, and news stories about the “disturbing” ordeal quickly followed.
It all began when the popular influencer, who has amassed millions of followers on TikTok, posted a video in which she was showing off her graduation outfit, the NY Post reported. The clip was then reposted to X, formerly Twitter, where it garnered even more attention. However, it wasn’t Barbara’s “gorgeous chic white matching number” that stole the show. Rather than the stunning outfit, most viewers found their attention landing on the man in the background, which the video seemed to focus on.
As seen in the short clip, a man lingers outside the door, smoking a cigarette as Barbara Gambatesa models her outfit just inside what appears to be a store. The beautiful woman captures the man’s attention, and he admittedly starts to stare. At one point, he touches his forehead while his eyes seemingly linger on Barbara’s body. While it is unclear whether the man was familiar to the influencer or even if the clip may have been staged, that didn’t stop people from forming an opinion.
In fact, it was one particular observation that seemingly set off an intense debate online. “Perfect. He looked. He admired. He stole one more look, then simply went about his business. That’s how you look at a beautiful person,” a social media user wrote as they reshared the clip on X. It was this “praise” of the man that really seemed to upset some, even though the comment section was admittedly filled with people who felt similarly.
“A man staring at a beautiful woman and not harassing her is apparently cause for praise,” read an article published on the NY Post website that lambasted the response to the video, saying it “reveals how low standards are for some.” Calling the response to the clip both “eye-opening” and “concerning,” the article alleged that the comment section of the clip was “filled with people gushing over the anonymous man for not approaching the woman and making a nuisance of himself.”
It was immediately clear that the writer was upset by what they saw. “It is a cesspit of a man being congratulated for doing less than the bare minimum, revealing a pretty stark reality,” she furthered as she went on to highlight comments that she found troubling, including the suggestion that “the man should be given respect for not harassing the woman” and others who suggested the moment was “beautiful” and “an example of a man doing everything ‘right.'”
Commenters also called the man “respectful” with some saying they genuinely admire someone who doesn’t cross boundaries, alleging that the man displayed a prime example of that. One man even allegedly stated that he enjoyed the clip because it was “good” to see that men aren’t “scared” to be seen looking at women in public. Of course, this was all condemned by the Post article, as well as an article posted to Indy100, which said the response by viewers who praised the man was “frankly disturbing.”
Both writers seemed alarmed that the man was “praised” for not harassing the woman. However, some comments used to defend their stance were simply restating what was seen in the video. Saying, “He just looked at her with admiration, without disturbing or harassing her,” is a reflection of what the viewer saw. To say that the commenter was “praising” the man is a stretch that requires one to enter that person’s mind, which we can’t do simply by reading a comment. What’s more, other videos suggest the unnamed man was doing exactly as Barbara had hoped when she modeled in the doorway.
What I see, where this video is concerned, is a lot of assumptions about intent. While some believe it’s a demonstration of how low society’s standards have become, I see it as an example of how we are backing men further into a corner, where admiring a woman can land them in hot water. It’s already dangerous for a man to give a beautiful woman a compliment on her appearance. Now, he better not even look at her either, lest he be caught on video and roasted online for looking—and anyone who comes to his “defense” will also be condemned.
No, women are not on this earth solely for the pleasure of men. However, there are quite a few industries to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars that indicate that women do indeed want to receive positive attention for their appearance. Cosmetics, fashion, health and beauty, fitness, social media, and even websites where women share adult content for dollars all seem to say one thing while men are simultaneously lambasted for looking. So, yeah, the response is disturbing. It’s disturbing that we say, “Look at how good I look,” then scold them for doing exactly that as if it is in some way a violation to give us the admiration we seek.