Tuesday, September 18, 2012

     The male gaze is a term in art that can be described as looking upon a work of art through a mans eyes, preferably nudes. Take for example a painting of a nude woman and her presumed lover. The woman would be painted completely nude and her so called lover may be completely dressed. The males attention in the painting is solely fixed upon the woman while the woman's attention is fixed on the viewer of the work of art who is presumably a man. The woman's true lover is the owner of the work of art not the man painted within. The woman in the painting is completely aware of the owners gaze, the male gaze. She stares at you the viewer as if she knows you are watching her.
     The male gaze is pervasive in many ways labeling women as only objects of male pleasure. Men watch and women are watched is sexist and still exist today because the man is more than not always considerwed the one watching. This way of thinking is demeaning to women as it places them below men making their only purpose that of pleasing men through sexual inuendo.
     The women painted within the paintings were painted with mirrors looking at themselves for a sense of vanity and to take away the guilt from the male viewer. In Ways of Seeing John Berger says " Men look at women, women watch themselves being looked at" (Berger) A women is constantly looking at herself for the sole purpose of looking appealing to a man. In today's society women wear very revealing clothes and lots of make up to please who? Most women wear revealing clothes and make up to seem more pretty for men  maybe more than for themselves.There may be instances where a woman is completely aware of the male gaze and does things that welcomes it. Media today is still guilty of using women to sell things to men. Women are used to sell beer, cars, cigarettes and many other things that appeal to men. So seldom there are ads using men to sell something to women. Usually when the media wants to sell to women they use other women because women relate to other women and women's problems. Take this ad from 1975 on Tampons.
     The oppositional gaze is different from the male gaze as the oppositional gaze refers to the gaze of the black female spectator. Bell Hooks refers to the oppositional gaze as "an overwhelming longing to look, a rebellious". (Hooks) It was a crime for a black man to look at a white woman because it was seen as the black man wanting what the white man had. Many black men were killed for looking at white women so to gaze upon anything that a white owned was not an option to blacks.
     With media and television came a way for black people to gaze upon a white persons lifestyle or possessions. Black women's images within the media and on television where to make the black man feel better about himself or to be the servant of a white woman. The oppositional gaze started from the black woman's refusal to identify with the media and image of the black woman. The oppositional gaze is the defiant stare at the things the African American was told not to look at. 

Works cited.
John Berger, Ways of Seeing, web documentary,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u72AIab-Gdc&feature=related

bell hooks: The Oppositional Gaze: Black female Spectators', in Thornham, S (1999) Edinburgh University Press. 



  1. The idea that the male gaze has continued to evolve until present day suggests that men's mentality has not changed at all. I like the idea that you mentioned that women are not only meant to please the viewer which is usually male but also to address women issues. it's as if women no matter who is watching, are always being judged, and by the looks of it will always be a sight to be viewed upon.

  2. When you write that women are used in advertisement towards men to appeal to them (which I guess is sexually) and toward women as a way to relate to them I cannot agree 100%. Advertisements might show the male gaze but it affects women and men the same. I will use the example of Victoria Secret commercials; they want women to buy the product but if you watch them they are very suggestive. They show an image of how woman are expected to look and sell the dream that if they buy the product they will look closer to that image. I doubt that all women can relate to spending all day in her underwear tossing around a bed . Women provide to each other constant reminders of how they are expected to look. So that even though a woman may say that she is wearing something solely because she wants to this is not the whole truth. She is wearing it because of the reaction that she is getting. When she wears something whether a positive response is from a male or female she is fulfilling how the male gaze says she should look.

    1. I agree with you about it affecting men and women the same. I see no changes happening anytime soon because it is a practice that is known to work and make millions of dollars for the sellers.

  3. Your post was very informative. You explained each gaze very well and put the images to go with it. I do also believe that women enjoy the male gaze an the attention they get. They almost feed into it and do things or wear outfits for attention.

    1. I know personally a few women who crave male attention. I think it may be more a self esteem issue than anything else. Then again I know a bunch of guys who only spend money to look good for girls lol.