Of course the Male Gaze (please give a few bucks to wikipedia–you know you use it) has been written about so very much. Google it, you’ll see.
Alas, the Male Gaze is as ubiquitous as rain in the northwest. So common that it’s easy to be desensitized to it. Is the male gaze getting some badly needed editing? Hope so.
The Male Gaze is about ownership, ownership expressed in objectification. I never really understood it quite so clearly as I understand it now.
The other night I was out with a friend, a guy I admire and like a lot and with whom I spar easily. He says to me, “You know I work out with a young woman, I like her a lot, but she wears a hoodie sort of like the one you’re wearing the whole time she’s working out.”
He pauses and takes a bite of pizza. Chewing he says, “I mean, it always seems like she’s hiding something. She’s got this bulky hoodie on and what is she hiding? She’s got a pretty nice body, after all.”
I was speechless. Not shocked or insulted or any of that, just…well, where to begin?
His whole perspective was about how her body was something for him to enjoy. That her workout wasn’t her workout, it was his in a way. That her body, her body! wasn’t even hers, it was somehow there to please him, to bring him pleasure.
Bless his heart, I love Larry. I do. We had a session, of course, but he checked his texts a couple of times while I suggested that possibly she felt better in a hoodie because of guys like him, and I could practically see the whole thing whizzing past him. Next time he went to the gym, I’m certain he would be less than pleased if she wore what she wanted, what she felt comfortable in.
After all, she’s got a pretty nice body.
PS: Keating’s mother in How to Get Away with Murder, brilliantly show-stoppingly good acting by Cicely Tyson, sums it up nicely, “Men were put on this planet to take things. They take your money, they take your land, they take a woman, and any other thing they can put their grabby hands on.” Or their gaze.