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The Male Gaze: How to Re-think It & Embrace Being a Woman

The male gaze is a term relating the way that artists and film presented women as nothing more than objects for men to gaze at. Fight it!

the male gaze

The male gaze is a feminist theory about how things in our society are viewed from the male perspective. Many feminists believe it is that outlook that keeps women down and creates an unfair hierarchical of men.
Coined by a feminist film critic by the name of Laura Mulvey in the mid-70s, it is the way that visual, literature, and art depicts women and the world through the gaze of a man’s perspective.
Along the lines of objectifying women, it is a way that culture views women as nothing but eye candy. There is very little doubt that the sexes are not the same, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be equal.
If you are feeling like you aren’t being treated fairly or overlooked due to your gender *or, if you feel as if you are being viewed negatively because of your gender*, you don’t have to put up with it.
The truth is that only someone else can make you feel less than. If you refuse to allow it, then you can soar high above anyone who feels the need to observe you through a male gaze *sub-par lens*.
And it isn’t just men who are guilty of the male gaze – every time that a woman judges another one based on how she appears, she is no better than a man who judges a woman by her exterior.
4 ways to re-think the male gaze and embrace being a woman
The only way to overcome the male gaze is to challenge it personally and show yourself in a different light. You can break out of the mold if you assert yourself, be loud and proud, and don’t allow anyone make you feel like you aren’t worthy simply because you were born with female genitalia. [Read: Misconceptions about dating a feminist that all men must know]
If you want to overcome the male gaze, challenge it in these four ways.
#1 Be aware. When you see something enough times, you become de-sensitized to it. Like violence in video games or stereotypes in the media, you start to meld what you see with what is real. It takes awareness to spot male gaze.
The media is very widespread around us – from print to television – and you have to train yourself to decipher what is real and what you are being fed. The only way to fight against stereotyping and prejudice through the male gaze is to spot it and make a mental picture for yourself about what role women have in society.
It isn’t just about women running around in yoga pants, but it is how we form impressions about who people are based on their gender. Assuming that I love to watch “chick flicks” or that chocolate is something that drives me wild, are all examples of the way that the male gaze has defined women as a gender. [Read: The opposite of feminist – a new generation of women?]
#2 Speak out against it. In the instance above, when I said that I like “chick flicks,” it isn’t just in the way that we see the world, but also the way that we speak about the world around us and define limitations and gender roles.
If you want to reverse the male gaze and be seen as your own person, then you have to be conscious about how you speak and the things that you say.
When you start to talk about things gender-neutral, you begin to present things in a different light to those you speak to. When you do that, you are forcing them to recognize that the impressions that they have, or the language that they use, is fabricated, not real. You force those you communicate with to re-examine the way that we speak and how it puts people into specific stereotypes. [Read: Chivalry is dead because men are lazy]
If you start to speak out, you can encourage others do so as well. People start to become uncomfortable when you challenge the status quo. Sometimes it just takes one loud voice to raise the masses and create change.
Along the road to women’s rights, there were mavericks who spoke out against oppression that allowed women to be seen as something less than second class citizens. Be the maverick for change in your generation.
#3 Act against it. Sometimes being vocal is not enough. There are going to be times that you are going to have to assert yourself out loud and refuse to be objectified. That may mean that you disallow men to demean you by looking at you, turning their heads, or talking and acting in a way to try to suppress you.
Whether it is systematic rules, or regulations created in the face of the male gaze, *or it is an individual who is working to keep you at a sub-par level by making you an object*, there are going to be times when you have to actively call them out. [Read: Types of feminism – Can’t we all just agree to disagree?]
If that is a boss, law enforcement, or even someone who holds your future in their hands, the only way to gain respect, is to insist on it by acting against the prejudice that is  fabricated by society.
#4 Turn the tables. If you want someone to recognize the way they behave, sometimes you have to bring out their empathetic side. Typically, unless you are someone like Channing Tatum, you have no idea what it is like to be judged for the way that you look or valued for your jeans or bra size.
Shining a light on how degrading it is to be nothing more than a body may be the only way to appeal to a society that is so desensitized by the things they see *and they can’t see anything else*.
When you call guys out for being insensitive, you will often get a response like “I wish that someone would whistle as I walked by.” It is that type of unawareness that calls for swift action. [Read: What feminists want to hate in bed but totally love]
Go ahead and let them know that many people don’t feel particularly good when someone is whistling at their sister, their mother, or someday their daughter. It’s not a sign of respect, and things like air-humping and whistling are not flattery. Rather, they are a sign that you are nothing more than an object to be put on display and joked about.
Many people believe that feminists are silly creatures who go around irritating people to get attention or to stand out in the crowd.
Feminists stand up for themselves for the complete opposite reason. They no longer want to be judged for the way that they look. They want to be valued, taken seriously, and not valued by how they look in skinny jeans.
[Read: Hateful words we should stop using to describe women]
Feminists would like to believe that if God created us equally, then He didn’t put us on earth simply to be the object of the male gaze. We are so much more than that!

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Julie Keating
A writer isn’t born, but created out of experiences. No lack of subject matter, my life reads more like fiction than anything that could have been imagined in...
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