Monday, September 17, 2012

Male and Oppositional Gaze

  The male gaze is a is a feminist theory that generally puts the sexuality of the woman on display.The spectator, usually a male, is viewing her as an object not a woman.  John Berger in “Ways of Seeing” defines the male gaze as a form of vision for the male audience.  Berger states, '' Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at(46).''  Those days men objectified women frequently.  It seems as if the woman on display loves the attention and the fact that she is being observed.
Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962)

The male gaze is a pervasive in art culture, but even more pervasive in advertising.  Everything is about appearance these days.  Women were constantly being judged, so they had to look their best.  A woman nude and a woman naked are two different things. Being nude, she is an object to be observed and watched.  Being naked is just simply being without cloths.  The portrait of a nude women to soothe the spectator or owners ego and possession.  The spectator sees her as a creature, admiring her only as an object.    You should not feel bad for the women on display because they truly enjoy being noticed. Above, is a picture of Marilyn Monroe.  An example of the male gaze, she loved being admired.
The oppositional gaze , as Bell Hooks informed us, challenges the authority of the spectator in order to give the viewer the permission to look.  Usually only a white male was allowed to be a spectator.  People of color are not permitted to be a viewer, especially when the object is a white women.  This was also true for women of color.  '' We are afraid to talk about ourselves as spectators because we have been so abused by 'the gaze', a black women in her twenties stated.(Hooks 125)   It was a very racist thing in that time.  They resisted gazing in fear of being punished.  Black women have a different gaze from any other person.  One because they are a female, and two because they are colored.  ''Not only will I stare, I want my look to change reality.''(Hooks)  They are tired of not being allowed to look as others can just because of their color.

After reading Ways of Seeing, and The Oppositional Gaze,  I empathized with their situation.  I have learned that ''looking'' has many different meanings now. White women were the center of attention back in that time period.  It was sad that colored women were treated unequal, because they are just as beautiful as a white woman. As for the media aspect, I will definitely observe movies more closely to see how many scenes there are with women not involving men.  
          As a female, It is hard to see other women being treated unequal.  It bothers me how women have to use their sexuality to attract viewers.  It basically tells us that you have to have a perfect figure and face to get what you want.  Everything is so superficial when the inside of a person is what matters.  Below in the link is a video of a women telling us why she promotes the male gaze.    

Work Cited

Berger, John
     Ways of Seeing. London, England. 1972. 

Hooks, Bell
     In Black Looks: Race Representation. Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press. 1992. 

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