The Male Gaze/ Oppositional Gaze. – Danielle Pate


The male gaze is power.  It is a phrase describing power, power over whatever might be in its focus.  It is an invasive, judgmental, controlling, dominating force.  Both eyes eat through the soul, and feast on the insecurities of whomever they choose as their prey.  Be it a subway ride to school, or a walk through Central Park, or sitting behind your desk at work.  The male gaze holds you hostage to everything you hate about yourself, and exposes you until your mind and body are both left naked and robs, all that categorized, you as a human being.

This “gaze” is an immensely pervasive form of vision in popular culture.  I find that, as a 24-year-old woman living in Queens, as an outsider looking in: people want power.  People want to feel in control.  There is an emotionless zombie father figure choking the necks of boys and men in this world.  And they scream into their faces “be a man” “man up” “men are powerful” and these boys, in fear of choking, accept and agree to these terms.  They are dying to be the power, so they take the reigns and, lucky for them, the media makes it quite simple.

The media, especially advertising, sells you a woman’s lipstick along with her soul.  They bare women’s bodies until they are nothing but morsels of body parts.  This settles into the minds of everyone looking, that one can ogle a person and see only a sex object. Thus, to feel like an object voids you of all the power you had when you were once a human.  This message is also conveyed in film and even art.  As discussed in class, women were painted hundreds of years ago, naked, representing Eve, feeling themselves being looked at, to shame them for what feels like eternity.

The oppositional gaze reflects not just a male gaze upon a woman, but also a gaze that targets race and gender.  For example, during the time of slavery, slaves were scorn if they made eye contact, causing them to feel inferior and ashamed to their “white superior”.  The oppositional gaze is a sense of rebellion to these feelings of inferiority.

All the passages I’ve read were extremely eye opening for me.  I have finally come to understand these structures, as I’ve related and have noticed them in my personal life.  I can see things with a different perspective.  For example, I question why I put on makeup every morning, and ponder if it’s because of an advertisement I’ve seen, or from a popular celebrity or did I read about it in a magazine article?  All of my friends are very conscious of the way they look, as am I, and I can see the vast yet painful effect media has had on us.  But, with this perspective I see a great positive, I will not be a victim or an attacker of the ‘gaze,’ I do not judge anyone and I see the beauty in everything, this is something I have always done and will continue to do.  I’m finally coming into acceptance with myself and my beliefs, and I will wear and look however I feel regardless of who is looking,  I choose to rebel.  I refuse to let the gaze control my life.

m gaze


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