Thursday, 29 November 2012

Look, Ma, no hands!

A certain brand of feminists complains about the defiling male gaze and the damage they believe it does to women. Feminist social psychologists, calling the gaze “objectification,” conduct experiments designed to demonstrate the harm it does. Meanwhile men, from the seven-year-old riding his bicycle (‘Look, Ma, no hands!’), to the old man in his fancy car, are trying to attract the female gaze, often in vain.

The concept of male privilege rests on a foundation of the invisibility of the average male. When women talk about “male power,” what man are they thinking of? Not the men who’ve been forced into the deadly professions: Electrical wire installer, truck driver, farmer, steel worker, roofer, garbage collector, fisher, lumberjack. No, they’re thinking of successful politicians and CEOs. Far more men are at the bottom of the power structure than the top, but these men don’t count. They don’t warrant the female gaze. They can’t be seen.

Here’s blog post by Jeremy Nicholson that makes the case that the Batman shooter was motivated by his inability to win the female gaze. It seems that far more women are attracted to mass murders than to graduate students. Nicholson writes:

"Why then turn from a nerd to a killer? That is, unfortunately, very simple. More women love killers than nerds. Being a killer today is more socially and sexually rewarding than being a "good guy". Countless women write love letters and beg for conjugal visits to death row inmates (see here). Even Holmes himself has already begun collecting adoring female fans on Twitter who think he is 'hot', 'sexy', and 'cute'"

This idea may seem a little extreme, but if you read the comments you’ll get a sense of how many men feel ostracized, rejected, invisible to women.

Ostracism is painful. The lack of human interaction, as in solitary confinement, is one of the most distressing experiences  that a person can undergo. It’s this experience, one of rejection, insignificance, and invisibility, that the male gaze in media often depicts.

  • A painting: A nude woman, looking away.
  • A scene from a film: A beautiful woman walks toward the camera. The camera’s eye lingers on her. She doesn’t acknowledge it; she withholds her gaze.  The camera follows her longingly as she walks away.

A long time ago, I worked as a girl in a glass booth, in an X-rated movie theater. A man could buy a ticket, $10 for seven minutes. Then I would go into my little closet, and he would go into his, with a big, glass window between us. In person, I’m a pretty introverted and reluctant conversationalist, so I didn’t think I’d be very good at this job. (I was right.) But an older gentleman who worked at the theater gave me some excellent advice. He said, “If you want to make a lot of money at this job, just go in there and tell every man, ‘You have the most beautiful penis I’ve ever seen.’”

That’s it. That’s the elusive female gaze.

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