THE MALE GAZE
The male gaze can be defined a stereo typical way that males see women. As John Berger says, men look at women; women watch themselves being looked at. A woman always thinks about her appearance and how she appears to men. Since the early times women have considered men as the surveyor meaning that they watch women continually to understand them and realize how they should be treated. For example, Berger states, “If a woman throws a glass on the floor, this is an example of how she treats her own emotion of anger and so of how she would wish to be treated by others. If a man does the same, his action is only read as an expression of his anger” (Berger 47).
This picture is a perfect representation of how women contribute to the male gaze. “She is Venus. But the way her body is arranged has nothing to do with their kissing. Her body is arranged in the way it is, to display it to the man looking at the picture. This picture is made to appeal to his sexuality. It has nothing to do with her sexuality” (Berger 55). Women always think of themselves of how they want to appear to men, that is why in this painting, Venus’s body is at an angle so the viewer can see her nude.
The oppositional gaze on the other hand, is a way to passively criticize another culture or another person, it is used in this situation where African Americans where they didn’t have the ability to stand out. They did not have the ability to judge or the ability to act on their own emotions. It is a way to stereotype just like the male gaze is to stereotype females the oppositional gaze is a way to stereotype higher authority.
A person’s gaze can say much more than you may think. It can say whether the feel threatened by you, whether they want to show dominance, and many other things. As Bell Hooks states, “by courageously looking, we defiantly declared: ‘Not only will I stare. I want my look to change reality.’ Even in the worse circumstances of domination, the ability to manipulate one’s gaze in the face of structures of domination that would contain it. Opens up the possibility of agency” (Hooks 116). For example, in some scenarios, when a policeman or a body guard is approaching a suspect they give them a look and everyone knows that the body guard or policeman will take over the situation.
The male gaze and the oppositional gaze are two different things yet they have many things in common with one another. The male gaze is a way that males view females. “Men act. Women appear” (Berger). The oppositional gaze is a way that people can rebel against a higher authority so they feel in control.
Hooks, Bell. In Black Looks; Race and Representation. Boston Massachusetts: South End Press, 1992.
Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. London, England, 1972
"Bodyguarding/PPO." Bodyguarding/PPO. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. <http://en.mj-tour.kiev.ua/index.php?page=1212>.
"Of Cabbages and Kings." Of Cabbages and Kings. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. <http://silverbells.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/venus-cupid-folly-and-time/>.