Friday, February 26, 2010

Male Gaze, Oppositional Gaze, My Gaze

The male gaze is a man’s opinion on what a woman’s beauty should look like, not necessarily her beauty on the inside but most importantly on the outside. The reason the male gaze is valued in popular culture is because we have been living in a patriarchal society for a very long time, and it is from a man’s point of view which most of our values and culture was shaped. These views have been enhanced by the way women are portrayed in the media. The media is always trying to sell things such as diet pills or athletic accessories so that a woman can achieve a certain body type that appeals to men.

For example, in a weight loss commercial that celebrities Kim and Khloe Kardashian the focus is on their bodies, however their tone of voices are a bit sensual and sexual. This is suppose to make women want to look like them so that they can appear sexy to men, also suggesting that women should not be okay with their body image if they do not look like them. Another example would be the new reebok sneaker for women that suggests wearing and working out in those sneakers will tone your butt, and legs. They even take it a step further as to having the cameras during the commercial stop at her butt while she is trying to sell the product. The woman in the commercial even asks the viewers “if they like what they see”, and she is not talking about the sneaker at that point. It is commercials like these that will always have an affect on how women view themselves, but more importantly how they want men to look at them. Most of them will see these images and buy these products without consciously knowing that they are getting it to appeal to a man’s point of view of what beauty is.

In Bell Hooks “The Oppositional Gaze” I think she meant by the “oppositional gaze” as being the way women (mostly black women) are now seeing how they are represented or not being represented in the media. Also how blacks are being portrayed and represented in the media as a whole as well. For example in the discussion we had in class, the show “Amos and Andy” came up and someone felt that it opened many doors for black people. I initially disagreed with that person, but now I do agree with the statement, but you have to ask yourself “What kind of doors is it opening for black people?”, and “Is it harmless comedy, or is this how people really think black people are?” Because Amos and Andy were such a misrepresentation of black people you had to expect it to outrage many people and cause for its cancellation. With images like this show still in peoples’ minds I think it made it harder for any black person to be taken seriously or to have a dominant role in the media. As a child you do not realize anything as being black or white if it is not introduced to you that way, but as I got older I started to realize the only time I would see a serious movie focused on black people it would be about the history of slavery or hard times and struggles, but never about the happy life of love. And if the movie is positive and the whole cast is black then society thinks it is only made for black viewers, but if the cast was white then it portrays to the entire society, it isn’t labeled as a “white film”.

In today’s view portrayal of blacks it has changed drastically from only historical plots of how hard life was for blacks in society to movies about a happy and almost cookie cutter type movies produced by a black man named Tyler Perry. However movies like that are still portrayed as a black film, when it is movies that are just made for entertainment. However, I am not pleased with the image of a black woman. Most of the time in the media I see them changing their natural image to emulate a white woman. For example many black women straighten their hair thinking that it looks better, and that they are not proud of their thick hair, and at one point in my life that is exactly how I felt about myself. I would constantly want my hair straight, because all of my idols had it that way, but then they started dying it blonde, which did not seem natural at all. This may not be true for most of them, because I know everyone changes their image for different reasons, but you can not help but think the images of people like Marilyn Monroe have something to do with the drastic changes black women are doing to their image.

It is a sad thing to me to see any woman of any race to change her image due to what someone else says is beautiful. Whether you are black, white, Indian, Asian, Hispanic etc. no one’s opinion but your own should matter when it comes to your beauty, and we should all learn to accept and love our natural beauty so that if we do decide to change our beauty it will not be from the influence anybody else but you.

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