It’s funny to think that we live in a society that boast it’s progressive views, yet people can still be reluctant to talk about sex. The best part however the general consensus is that sex sells. If sex does in fact sell, why is it still an awkward topic to talk about? Well the truth is human’s pervasive nature has been consistently evident for centuries, and the key to “selling sex” is the “male gaze”
First lets start by describing what a “gaze” is: it’s a term used to describe the concept used to analyze imagery presented to us. Going further with this definition the “male gaze” the scope males uses to view and often subjectively women. Berger teases this notion by stating “[m]en survey women before treating them.” (Berger, 46) Berger goes on to describe the relationship between spectator and object by simply stating, “men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at… The surveyor of women in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object – and particularly an object of vision: a sight.” (Berger, 47) While Berger used traditional European oil paintings; modern photographs and advertising can still display lingering evidence of the “male gaze”
The image above displays a women in partial nudity. Furthermore the model's expression is reminiscent on the painting and photograph Berger used and described as "the expression of a woman responding with calculated charm to the man whom she imagines looking at her... She is offering up her femininity as the surveyed." (Berger. pg 55) This tactic is often used to sell products to the consumers, more often is fragrance adverts. As Berger suggested it is often assumed that the spectators are usually males.
However in The Oppositional Gaze Bell Hooks gets more specific when differentiate types of "gazes" Hook criticizes the lack of representation of black people in Hollywood cinema and overall presence in media. Even more so hook criticizes the lack of criticism of black people in media. Hook summarized the experience of fully enjoying mainstream Hollywood movies by stating "[e]very black woman i spoke with who was.is an ardent moviegoer, a lover of the Hollywood film, testified that to experience fully the please of that cinema they had to close down critique, analysis; they had to forget racism. And mostly they did not think about sexism." (Hook, pg 120) This state if only one of many statements Hook makes that can be used to the experience of the oppositional gaze. Hook explains this by stating that "[s]ubordinates in relations of power learn to experientially that there is a critical gaze, one that 'looks' to document, one that is oppositional."(Hook, pg 116)
As a consumer I'm not immune to advertising, just as I'm not immune to any gaze really. As a gay male I have been followed in the train and have almost fallen victim to many incidents where people would only generally consider for females. That being said, while I'm not immune, I do feel that I am not effected the same way many others by these "gazes" I do however do find myself liking ads that can be considered as counter parts of the "male gaze" such as: