Friday, February 25, 2011

The way contemporary U.S. society was and is still being brought up is patriarchal. Almost everything we encounter or take in is from a male's point of view. The male gaze is the way men process the image of women, and is usually purely superficial and objective. As Berger puts it, he is "surveying" her. "Men survey women before treating them." Based on his survey is how he is going to treat a woman. 

In mainstream media, the images of women that are displayed derive from the male gaze, even if it targeted to the women audience. Women have also been subjected to thinking the same as the male gaze because we are so used to surveying ourselves and are conscious of ourselves being watched. We have these idealized images of what a woman should be. 

For example, this image for La Perla campaign: 

The image itself is not overtly sexual but it mainly focuses on her body and you can't really see her face. She is in a strange, contorted position to manipulate curves in her body. Although this ad is targeted towards women, it still holds views of the male gaze. When I look at this image, I am focused mostly on her body and not so much on the lingerie that the ad is for. This image is also an idealized idea of a woman from a man's point of view: skinny, sexy, an object of sexual desire and nothing more. 

According to bell hooks, staring was forbidden for blacks. The racism between white towards blacks that made blacks feel that they would have reprecautions for staring because it seen to be confrontational. The only time a black person could stare or observe is by watching films.  However, the representations of the black characters were usually stereotypical, degrading, dehumanizing and negative whenever they were shown, if at all. One of the women that watched the film, she said that she enjoyed it more when she did not look into it as much. I can understand that it was easier to not look and cause conflict, especially when one is already in a suppressed social position.

From as long as I can remember, I was taught that it was impolite to stare. In my case, it did not have anything to do with racial dynamics. However as I grew up I found that looking at someone can evoke defensive reactions. For example, when I used to feel a gaze upon me from another girl the first thing I would think is that she is judging my appearance. I would feel a bit uncomfortable and immediately feel defensive wondering "what the hell is she looking at"? because there is always some sort of competition between women, always sizing each other up. But I know better now and I don't let it affect me.  

No comments:

Post a Comment