Tuesday, October 1, 2013
The Gaze and Portrayal
Culture is based on the many things that run society, in today's world sex sells it is the leading theme in many companies and glamorized to appeal to the audience. the "male gaze" in many forms is what drives the industry, however what is the "male gaze"? The "male gaze" is the manner in which the men perceive women in a male dominated society, they are entitled to look upon women with judgment and ownership.
"Men survey women before treating them. Consequently how a women appears to a man can determine how she will be treated. To acquire some control over this process, women must contain it and internalize it." (Berger, 46) It is hard to argue with the reading when we are constantly surrounded by glamorization of women selling products. Simply put, women are commercialized and put as the face of products to gain popularity. Like many of the of paintings that were made by men depicting women much of the commercialism comes from a patriarchal based society. Women are "sights" to be seen, in the Berger reading, and they continue to be sights.
In the Bell Hooks reading we see that not all gazes are alike; the "male gaze" is highly dominated by the white race as oppose to the black "male gaze". Historically, the African American men have suffered by the hands of their white masters and the white authority. Take for example, Emmette Till, beaten, castrated and burnt, a punishment that was very common for African Americans, Till was lynched for supposedly gazing upon a white woman and whistling at her. "Given the real life public circumstances wherein black men where murdered/lynched for looking at white womanhood, where the black male gaze was always subject to control and/or punishment by the powerful white Other, the private realm of television screens or dark theaters could unleash the repressed gaze, interpreting and punishing." (Hooks, 118) The "male gaze" stems from the white male dominance that has historically haunted the black race.
The image of the women has been perverted and twisted by the media to demonstrate the female body to advertise many products, products that sometimes have nothing to do with the female body. The women physique is just a pleasurable sight to be looked at and observed. Women are seen as passive, gentle and nurturing therefore the mere sight of the female is said to be soothing. Likewise, in many advertisements females are usually portrayed as being passive and positioned in a non-active manner, as oppose to males who are, most of the time, portrayed in an active and/or aggressive manner.
Women are suppose to keep a virginal portrayal, yet also be able to demonstrate "sexiness", they are supposed to be powerful yet also demonstrate submissiveness with their partner. "The determining male gaze projects its phantasy on to the female figure which is styled accordingly. in their tradition exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed , with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness." (Mulvey, 837)