The male gaze— what we women constantly observe in media, psychology, and our daily lives. The objectification of women has sadly been what we’re subjected to every day, whether we realize it or not. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t realize the jeopardies of this mentality. The male gaze has been accredited as a core from sexual harassment, abuse, and assault as a result of the over-fetishization of women in the media. Liz Fe Lifestyle’s book goes over the many ways that the male gaze can do damage to women as a whole, as well as negate the advocacy to end female sexualization that many individuals are fighting for.
Typical examples of the male gaze tend to take away the female characters of their human identity. Women become simply an object, a prop, heterosexual male desire. And if you were to remove these female chapters altogether, the plot wouldn’t be affected much. Women are ridiculed to look and appear more feminine while maintaining a modest personality. Being a woman comes with impossibly ridiculous standards to be judged by the male eye. The sexualization of women and girls has been around since the beginning of time. Males and many have failed to realize and consider the damage that ensues beyond media and daily experience.
The phrase male gaze emerged from feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey in the year 1975. Her theory from her acclaimed essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema considers the sexual objectification of women in media stemming from the male’s point of view. For most of the entirety of the entertainment industry, women are shown as submissive objects of male desire. Regarding the psychological thought process behind the male gaze, it is kindred to the Freudian concept of scopophilia – the pleasure of viewing.
Laura Mulvey is a celebrated film theorist in the industry and her ideas bring awareness to situations riddled with patriarchy and misogyny in films and other forms of mass media. Mulvey’s theory has allowed people to start questioning gender roles in films and how they propagate false ideals to downplay women in the name of fiction. It has been decades since she called out films and media for their falses ideologies, but still, our mass media industry flourishes on the continuous sexual objectification of women and forces them in traditional roles emerging from patriarchy.
Today in society as we have become more conscious and informed of the male gaze and the unappetizing ideas it cultivates, we are also equipped with a broad education to not feed the
misogynistic ways. It is sad to say that such depictions of women are a normal part of our popular culture and we must un-normalize this mentally to protect women as a whole. Catcalling, harassment, staring and gawking at women in public, “accidental” and unwanted touches from men inappropriately. Just to name a few. All of these established mannerisms evoked by the male gaze portrayed by the mass media.
And we are just scratching the surface because there is still so much to discover and understand about the male gaze. The male gaze in sports, classrooms, mass media. Society’s perception of women is learned and absorbed from the entertainment industry. These industries need to stop catering to the male eye because it does more harm to women everywhere than one would realize. How do we put an end to the male gaze? How do we move this conversation to the mainstream media?