Merriam-Webster (online of course) defines gaze as “to fix the eyes in a steady intent look often with eagerness or studious attention”. As they say the beginning is a very good place to start.
In the beginning we gaze at ourselves or at least says some dead white guy. A dead white french guy named Jacques Lacan coined the term a long long time ago and used it to describe man looking into a mirror and seeing himself looking back. Please note I don’t study this stuff so I’m paraphrasing.
“Gaze” has come to describe the act of seeing and analyzing the culture surrounding us, TV, Film, Print and Television Ads, etc.
Laura Mulvey is generally considered to be the mother of Male Gaze. In her 1973 essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema she describes how the gaze of a film is generally male because that is the default demographic. This makes women the viewed. Objects to be viewed by men. I’m sensing a problem.
The Female Gaze is my (and some fierce feminist foxy friends) fight back. Objectification of women will never end. Women are beautiful and sexy. We have soft curvy bodies which attract attention. I don’t want to ask men to stop looking at me and my sisters. I want to ask them to do it respectfully, remembering that I have as many opinions and feelings as they do.
Therefore I consider it my job, nay! my duty to gaze at men. To make them ever so slightly uncomfortable, to turn my head when they jog past. To hug one whenever I feel like it. To have friends who are male and tell them what I think and feel without fear of being considered too girly, vain, or sensitive.
So please don’t feel threatened (for as a woman I’m taught that the last thing a man wants is a woman who is threatening) and join me. Enjoy bodies (consensually!) Gaze respectfully. Gaze with love and responsibility. Honor peoples feelings, his, hers, your own.
Here’s a little inspiration, now get gazing!