Male gaze and its damaging effects

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The male gaze describes how portraying and looking out at women empowers men while sexualizing and diminishing women. While biologically, from early adolescence on, we are driven to seem at and evaluate one another as potential mates, the male gaze twists this natural urge, turning the women into passive items to possess and use as props.

Typical examples are female film characters whose main purpose in driving the plot seems to be to be attractive, sexy, and/or to feed the sexual interest or agenda of the male characters. They wear heels and tight dresses (even if they’re police detectives who might have to pursue a suspect) and while they will be shown in a very style of contexts, their primary motivation rests on being the helper, eye candy, or romantic interest.

The bodies of those women are to sell and attract (predominantly heterosexual male) attention. Female celebrities pose provocatively on the covers of magazines, male stars (usually fully dressed) pose alongside minimally-dressed models or just on their own. Portrayals that bend to the male gaze show women as passive, vapid, highly sexualized, or other stereotypical versions of womanhood. They function secondarily to the first male characters and/or focus their attention on pleasing these men or competing with and besting other women to urge the required male affection.

male gaze

The Effects of the Male Gaze

To get away of the complete ramifications of the male gaze, it is vital to acknowledge how the representations of ladies within the film and various other kinds of media separate out from those movies, magazine layouts, and pinup images to tell how women are viewed by society-at-large.

Despite the actual fact that ladies conjure over 50% of the population, the male gaze relegates women and girls to the position of other—and really, thereto of a thing to have, consume, or discard.

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The Damaging Effects of Sexualizing Girls

Certainly, there are many viewpoints on the impact and relevance of the male gaze and the way it should or might not have morphed over the nearly 50 years since Mulvey first brought the concept into the general public consciousness.

  • many would agree that the underpinnings of the male gaze are deeply sexist, patriarchal, and misogynistic which its influence continues to be pervasive.
  • Additionally, for people in traditionally marginalized groups, the male gaze is one more burden. for instance, Black women have historically been depicted as being hypersexual by the male gaze, which adds another facet of stereotype to the pervasive racism they face.
  • Similarly, the male gaze also fetishizes Asian (and lesbian women, as long because the man can watch or participate), portraying them as exotic, erotic specimens for male enjoyment. The blonde bombshell (also called the ditzy blonde or airhead) is another common trope.
  • From a feminist perspective, the male gaze limits and defines women in ways in which are harmful and demeaning.
male gaze

Is There a Positive Side?

Ultimately, the question isn’t whether or not girls and ladies should be ready to wear, pose, or represent themselves in whatever way they want—the answer thereto may be a resounding, yes. There should be no shame in dressing provocatively and owning your sexuality. Plus, it may be argued that there are often part of reclaiming their own bodies when girls and ladies purposefully value more highly to tackle this guise. Particularly, once they do so intentionally while fully conscious of the history.

If embodying this look truly makes them feel good about themselves—and they’re doing it without altering their authentic selves or acquiescing to the pressures of the male gaze, then that will be a healthy thanks to express and celebrate themselves.

Mental Health Impacts

But the accumulated impact of living under the male gaze does quite simply alter how a woman poses for the camera, the categories of characters they see in their favorite TV shows, or how it feels to them to be seen come in the planet.

In fact, the objectification of ladies and girls has profound psychological state impacts—and social media has become a very potent method of disseminating the reach of the male gaze.

Studies show that increasing incidences of depression, anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, eating disorders, self-harm, and suicidal ideation are associated with female objectification.

Interestingly, a 2014 study entitled “Fathers, daughters, and self-objectification: does bonding style matter,” found a powerful link between negative eating patterns and body shame in girls who grew up with highly attentive and overly protective fathers. The researchers point to the added attention these dads placed on their daughter’s changing bodies and sexuality as proof of the girls’ added struggles with healthy eating and body image.

male gaze

Changing the Gaze

Awareness of the influence of the male gaze is vital to freeing yourself of its power. Simply considering its pervasiveness and influence may offset a major amount of its impact, allowing you to work out yourself and performance within the world simply as you’re, without relegating yourself to the supporting role.

Focusing on and seeking out depictions of girls and girls that run counter to the stereotypes of the male gaze also may help to shatter its hold on our collective psyches. Ultimately, discarding the burden of worrying about being seen, who is watching, or fitting into the prescripted “female” role, helps you to instead be the person you would like to be.

-by Shinjini Chatterjee
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