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In his statement, “to be born a woman has been to be born, within an allotted and confined space, into the keeping of men,” Berger affords the reader the opportunity to build upon the traditional norms that have shaped society’s interpretation and perception of the female. From the onset, women in this capacity are depicted as the other. They are not seen as equal to men and as such are marginalized. As the other, the focus is on that of an unbalanced relationship between the male and female. As Berger further notes, in its biblical sense, “…the woman is blamed and is punished by being made subservient to the man.”
As such, the woman is therefore in existence to serve, please and be chastised by their male counterpart. In view of this argument, one can draw conclusions as to how the male gaze has come to be what is and has been. If women are looked at from this point of view, there is little room for anything else but for women to objectify and display themselves to the male spectator and subsist as constant surveyors of themselves and of women. Advertisers have capitalized on this phenomenon and the media –print, television, film and radio have perpetuated and reinforced these characteristics so that they are in force in our society as norms.
Mulvey furthers this theory by introducing scopophilia. She references Freud and his association of scopohilia as the, “taking other people as objects, subjecting them to a controlling and curious gaze.” She notes that this mechanism has been incorporated into film making and exploited by the cinema.
Bell establishes another perspective of the gaze by demarcating it as it relates to race. I found it most interesting that on start of The Oppositional Gaze she correlates the gaze to challenges of authority and gestures of resistance. She emphasizes the gaze from the position of the black spectator and its power as a domination. Her viewpoint is that the gaze from the black experience is a site of resistance; looking is a sign of defiance. She explains how during times of slavery, looking was a forcefully controlled trait of the slave master and the right to look produced rebellious desires to look. In essence, black people learned to look at white people by starring at them on film.
After reading these articles, I have been reminded and have become acutely aware of the status quo as it is reflected by the media and thus, our society. I have yet to look at a magazine that portrays the human race as something more than sexualized. I am guilty of this conditioning as I too, have been indoctrinated by the thousands of media messages that I ingest on a daily basis.