In “Ways of Seeing”, Berger points out the difference of the representations of men and women and the ways they are both looked at and discusses the naked and the nude. At the beginning of the article, Berger says a man’s presence is “dependent upon the promise of power he embodies” and “suggests what he is capable of doing to you or for you.” (45). On the other hand, the female presence revolves around herself and what can and cannot be done to her. Women would become self conscious of their presence since they are constantly being observed in the eyes of other people. Berger states, “A woman must continually watch herself” and “she has to survey everything she is and everything she does because how she appears to others, and ultimately how she appears to men, is of crucial importance for what is normally thought of as the success of her life.” (46) Therefore the surveyor and surveyed exist, when men surveys women and women surveys themselves or watch themselves being surveyed. Thus the women turns into object of vision, and simply, they just appear while men act. (47). In European nude art, the artists were usually men and the objects being drawn were usually women. The gaze of the spector or artist created the judgement of females in the paintings.
In “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, Mulvey describes the male gaze as projecting phantasy on the female figure. (837). It happens when the women figure is displayed as an erotic subject. The male gaze is a pervasive form of vision in popular culture because the pleasure from the specator or audience is caused by when females offer their feminity on screen or paper. On screen or tv, the female is portrayed to attract among a large heterosexual male audience. In advertisement, women are featured to sell products. They are dressed in a certain way or posed in a certain way or wore their makeup and hair in a certain way for one goal – to sell. The term “sex sells” still exists in modern advertising.
In “Oppositional Gaze”, Bell hook says, “all attempts to repress our/black peoples’ right to gaze had produced in us an overwhelming longing to look, a rebellious desire, an oppositional gaze.” (116) She shares her own experience and proves that there are other gazes beside the male gaze. She gave us background on how the slaves were punished for gazing. At first when black people in the U.S had the oppurtunity to watch films, they learned to look at white people on screen and developed critical spectatorship. (117). The white representations of the black can certainly be degrading and dehumanizing at times and the spectators resist to identify with the film’s discourse. The rebellious desire rises when they refuse to associate with the portrayals in dominant white films.
I have come to understand these structures and they have changed my views about visual media. Here are a few examples:
American Apparel is advertising the same flannel on a male model and a female model. The male model wears the flannel casually with a pair of denim jeans, and/ or a sweater/hoodie over it. The female model wears the flannel unbuttoned with no bra and a plain pair of underwear. Not only is she wearing way less than the male model, the way she is posed is meaning to show off her curves. Racy AA ads are not surprisingly rare, although almost all depict female models.
“Respect Yourself In The Morning”
Not sure what this ad is trying to say, but putting cinnabon to display a woman’s bottom is certainly not giving her any respect.