Change Your World-NOT your Body

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Male Gaze

What are some of the myriad of ways, the male gaze harms females?

Have you ever consciously done something to escape or keep the male gaze off your body? If yes, what?

How does the male gaze shape how females think about our bodies?

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21 comments:

  1. Oh sure, it's an impossible thing that males should be expected to have respect for women and stop *lusting* after them, yet you have no problem blaming "breeders" for not doing the impossible correctly.

    Like THAT doesn't harm women...

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  2. What I do to keep the male gaze off my body is to spend way too much time indoors. Males "own" the outdoor environment in the city. In the country, to a slightly lesser extent But you still have to be prepared for it if the drive up your driveway.

    The only time I've ever felt free from the male gaze outdoors has been when I was at the music festival, in Michigan, back in the 1970's.

    The male gaze makes me feel like hiding. And I do.

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  3. Well okay you deleted my earlier comment, but I can readily understand the word "faggot" being condemnable (my bad... but it is not really an insult where I live, more like a nickname, therefore I may too easily use it).
    However, now you deleted the original comment that SS replied on, too, which makes her comment lack context. :/

    On topic: the male gaze is contradictory in nature, affecting every female possible.

    The male gaze still recognizes every female, and if you don't fit (e.g. you have small breasts and wear only sweaters) you get these "correction"-comments.
    I have been told my curves are too small and that I don't dress "feminine" enough - and therefore, shouldn't be surprised to not get a boyfriend.
    It is really absurd how random male strangers can approach you with "correction"-comments.
    They seem too look through your clothing and want to make you "better".
    Most common is probably, that you should "smile". I'll smile if I see something funny or nice and you aren't, thanks.

    Yet, females with larger curves, and "feminine" attire (like cleavage) get told (again, by men) they should not be surprised to be only viewed as sex objects because of that, and therefore, also not get a boyfriend.

    So you can never do it right, unless being a rope dancer.

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  4. Hello, I came here through radfem central, hope you don't mind me commenting?

    Thanks for giving an opportunity to discuss this, making inventories of the different ways men harm women is really important! - these are the myriad ways in which male gaze harmed me as female

    -insecurity and hatred of my body and self
    -controlling, mirror checking and judging of every part of my body, at all times = watching myself walking, talking, doing things rather than be-ing
    -constant comparing of my body to other women and feeling less worth than other women
    -resentment of other women for being "more beautiful"
    -dread as to whether my body would please men
    -obsession with buying things that would make my body conform, loss of money
    -self mutilation, picking and harmful body alteration to make my body conform
    -guilt and shame for not conforming and for feeling bad about it
    -always dissociating from my body and objectifying it
    -objectifying other women's bodies
    -identifying to men in general and incapacity to indentify or relate to women
    -allowing men too intrude into my body, treat me as an object and feeling complimented by it
    -feeling like sh**
    -being paralysed in conversations at the fear of what men might think of me

    I could go on and on really! Sorry if the comment was too long

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  5. Thanks for your comment witchwind. Your mentioning females so caught up in "doing" whether performing for the male gaze or trying to escape it, rather than just "being" is HIGHLY important!

    dirt

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  6. I only heard the phrase 'male gaze' for the first time about a year ago from my 'straight' (now ex-) girlffriend... i'm not the type that generally gets attention from men but am always offended when a guy says 'smile!' to me when I don't look happy enough for him... and I will usually change train cars if I feel any type of 'leerage' towards me on the subway... also I am always aware if a man is looking inappropriately at any woman and will usually stare him down or something to try to stop it (hero complex perhaps)...

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  7. As female bodies are being policed more and more, girls are growing up not knowing what is natural for a female body.

    I just typed into google search bar: is it normal to have

    And ALL the most searched phrases had to do with the female body. No kidding, try it.

    12 year old girls want to know whether it is ICKY to have pubic hair. While FEMALE is slowly being detached from HUMAN we are going to see the psychological consequences.

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  8. MNDR, We're already seeing it sadly right here.

    dirt

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  9. A couple of days ago I saw my niece get hit with it... She's just turned 13, and is very pretty.
    We were walking together and a guy catcalled her. I saw her cringe, and shrink, and falter.

    I wanted to punch that guy, because how dare he make her feel like she should hide, that her body, her way of being in the world is something she should change.

    We simultaneously flipped him off instead. And my niece laughed, and hopefully a little bit of the damage was undone.

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  10. The male gaze has made me want bigger breasts/no breasts/smaller hips/smaller waist/blonde hair/blue eyes/to look like a porn star/to be shorter (I'm 6ft 1)/to have smaller feet (mens' size 10)/a higher sounding voice/to be straight/to be bisexual/to harm myself.

    All the constant 'you're not good enough' and 'it's your fault' messages zap the energy from young women. You only have to walk outside your house to experience it.

    So it's no wonder young women fall behind academically and in terms of self esteem.

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  11. O god, I FULLY agree with part that random male strangers feel as if they are ENTITLED to make correction comments and/or compliments.

    AND we are supposed to feel incredibly grateful if a strange man DOES compliment us, and nasty feminist harridans if we object.

    Being unable to just walk down the road thinking and looking fairly blank without some idiot telling you to smile or cheer-up.

    Let's face it, most blokes can walk down the road wearing whatever (apart from a dress that is!), and looking however, and expect no comments from anyone either way.

    And if you DON'T fit the female stereotype (fat, butch and bald in my case), then male responses have ranged from verbal abuse to out-right physical violence -- based only on my appearance.

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  12. i developed an eating disorder to hide from it. the skinnier i got the less attention i would recieve (other than as a freak show, but i'd rather be a freak show than a sex object for men). i'm recovered now but i wouldn't be if i didn't catch up on feminism and understood what it was i was escaping from... not myself, but the male gaze.

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  13. The male gaze? What about the female gaze? Arn't females just as guilty? Women are ruthless in their critisism of other women, they right magazines condeming other women about their weight, their hair, their fashion, their tits. They don't do it to please the man - its their power and superiority over other women. Your gender straight jacket is partly female driven....accept that.

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  14. Females "policing" other females do not carry the same underlining threat of violence that males do when they harass women in public. They are knowingly intimidating and exerting power when they do so, the male gaze can be a terrifying thing and that’s where you fail to see the point.

    I have never been terrified of a woman being critical of how I look. I have however (all women have examples of this) have feared for my safety by men for making comments because I don’t know if he’s going to follow up on his harassment with violence.

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  15. "The male gaze? What about the female gaze? Arn't females just as guilty?"

    Good ole funfem rears it's head!

    WHY are women so critical of other women in these cases? Because they are in competition with them for MALE approval/acceptance/protection.

    It isn't just about who is innocent or guilty, you've got to follow the POWER in this dynamic.

    Personally, I've never been threatened or assaulted by women in public, but I have been by men, many times.

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  16. I think this is a very important subject. I agree that the male gaze carries a threat of violence. Maybe not realistic/likely violence, but the possibility or reminder of violence, which does not really happen when women are nasty to each other. The male gaze is a big reason why I feel really self-conscious about my breasts, even though they're not big, and often want to smush them with a bra or binder, away from view. It can be hard to have a healthy view of yourself with the constant possibility of being objectified by men.

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  17. As an adult I’m really not bothered by the male glaze, I don’t need it to validate who I am as a women. As a lesbian I have no sexual interest at all in men and I’m not moved by the things they do or say.
    As a young girl I found the male glaze very difficult and uncomfortable. I learned early on that it did not take much to get in trouble. More than once a simple conversation caused me to fight my way out of situations, a smile or hello meant yes.
    This causes me to be the way I AM TODAY. It affects the way many females feel about themselves. I covered myself for years because I did want anybody looking at me male or female. When I would dress up I found it hard to have normal conversations. So, I did say anything.
    Passion

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  18. I have no idea what a "male gaze" is whatsoever!!! Only saw your video Dirt and still didn't understand what you were trying to say, sorry!!

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  19. "I have no idea what a "male gaze" is whatsoever!!!"

    Go educate yourself! Dirt isn't the one who invented the term.

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  20. Interesting. I had never really put it in these terms before. If I were to define the male gaze I would say it is when men give you objectifying looks/check you out/treat you like a "woman/girl" rather than interact with you as a person.

    Happily, I've had some time off from the gaze so these days when I encounter it, I just block the person out immediately and move on. But back in my city days I used to be so offended by the male gaze that I intentionally dressed like a man and wore very conservative clothing. Though sometimes to the contrary, I would dress in a manner that was revealing, but in the same "I don't give a shit" manner a guy would... so I figured it gave me license to cop an attitude or something if anyone said anything about it, haha... Being seen as a sex object is just offensive. I should simply be able to function in the world without leering stares. It's gross. I only want to be looked at like that in one context. I don't like people projecting all their gross, impure energy all over me. And really, that's the bottom line about any type of "gaze."

    just my two cents.

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