Friday, February 26, 2010

Post 2

I was procrastinating when my friend IMed me, asking me what was up. I told him I was trying to write a blog post about the male gaze, and he asked me what that was. As learned from John Berger in Ways of Seeing, "Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at." I explained that, in media, when a woman has a seductive look on her face, it's directed towards a man who is looking at her. My friend said he never thought of that before. I told him, neither have I. As Laura Mulvey writes, "The conventions of mainstream film focus attention on the human form." I also explained that when women are viewed in media, they are being viewed through a man's eyes, because the camera will linger on a woman's body.

Then I asked my friend what he was up to and he said, "Watching MANswers with my brother."(MANswers is a comedic show on Spike TV, which features questions that are asked and answered by men, and a lot of scantily-dressed women! Way to utilize your male gaze!) Berger writes, "The 'ideal' spectator is always assumed to be male and the image of the woman is designed to flatter him." The MANswers link above leads to a search page of the show on YouTube. If you watch any of the clips, you would see that there are frequent images of women in lingerie, for no purpose other than to please the male spectators of the show.

Berger also says that even the part of the female that watches these things are male, which was another thing I haven't thought of before. It's funny, because I've seen MANswers before on television, out of curiosity when I was scrolling through the TV guide. Even though I know the show is kind of stupid, I still found it interesting because it was like looking through a man's eyes/viewing things from a man's perspective. Thus, the "male gaze".

Bell Hooks, however, speaks of an oppositional gaze. The concept derived from black racism and child subordination. Slaves were not allowed to gaze at their masters, and children were punished for gazing at adults. The oppositional gaze is exactly as it implies: the opposition to this unfair deprivation to look. Those who are not allowed to look, look anyway.

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