When it comes to analyzing and discussing the “male gaze”, I cannot help but think about the concept of “the other”. Women being “the other”, an object that is foreign yet intriguing and exotic to the man, who is the observer. The portrayal of women in European art and in advertisements today is not reality, but is the viewers/man’s idea and perception of her. This is similar to Bergman’s idea that men act and women appear, “Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at (Berger, 47)”. Throughout history women have been aware of being seen, which in turn has given men the power, the power to decide what is beautiful, sexual, and acceptable.
There is a great need for social change when it comes to viewing women. Women are so used to being submissive and accepting of men’s “looks”. Women are not here to flatter men or live up to their ideals, women are beautiful even when not being watched by men. Like in European art, in advertisements today women still look at the camera as if it is a potential suitor, a man in which she needs desperately to be accepted by sexually. Women identify with these models, as well as see these women (themselves) being watched by men. Laura Mulvey also talks about how women are the individuals being observed while the men are the “bearer(s) of the look.” (Mulvey, 837). Women indeed play the passive role while men take on the active role.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but who is the beholder? Is the man the only one that can determine what is beautiful? The male gaze will forever be part of women’s lives, but it is the woman that needs to choose to not be passive and refuse this absurd ideal of what is means to be a woman.