Showing posts with label male gaze. Show all posts
Showing posts with label male gaze. Show all posts

Saturday, February 13, 2021

The Male Gaze

                                            Image by Michael Bußmann from Pixabay

This is:
 A weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandkids 
and my great-grandkids — the Stickies — to advise them and haunt them after they've become grups and/or I'm deleted.

Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — A Perusal by kids, callowyutes, or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering. Viewing with a tablet or a monitor is highly recommended for maximum enjoyment.

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Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"If we had 3 million exhibitionists and only one voyeur, nobody could make any money." -Albert Brooks 

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies and Great-Grandstickies (and Gentlereaders),

I have a male gaze. I can't seem to help myself. Please accept my insincere apologies. 

Hi, I'm Marcus and I'm a scopoholic. 

Hi, Marcus.

[Wait-wait-wait. There's no such word as scopoholic.]

Well, not yet, but stay tuned. There is such a word as scopophilia, I discovered it when I went a-googlin' to investigate what this male gaze thing is all about as I keep running into it. I refer to the phrase, not the gaze.  

[I'll bite, what's scopophilia?]

When I consulted my go-to online dictionary app, Merriam-Webster (M-W) I found "Medical Definition of scopophilia: a desire to look at sexually stimulating scenes especially as a substitute for actual sexual participation." 

[Hah! You're a porn addict!]

Nah, Dana, definitely not. But being a self-acknowledged testosterone poisoned, cisgender, heterosexual Pasty Patriarch constantly struggling to control my toxic masculinity I must confess I enjoy gazing at women and have for as long as I can remember. 

However, being a gentleperson, I strive to be as discrete as possible. Also, I find "sexually stimulating scenes" a poor and unsatisfying "substitute for actual sexual participation." I'm with the late, great Marvin Gaye, ain't nothin' like the real thing.  

But me being me (I'm also a self-acknowledged word lover) I wanted to know more about this word as I had never heard of it. When I googled it the very first hit consisted entirely of the following paragraph.

"Scopophilia: Literally, the love of looking. The term refers to the predominantly male gaze of Holloywood cinema, which enjoys objectfying women into mere objects to be looked at (rather than subjects with their own voice and subjectivity). The term, as used in feminist film criticism, is heavily influenced by Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis."

[Holloyood? Object-fying?]     

Yep. It's from a webpage that links to another webpage that's "Written and Designed by Dino Franko Felluga," a professor at Purdue University about a textbook he wrote called "Introductory Guide to Critical Theory." 

[What's that got to do with the M-W medical definition?] 

I think it has more to do with the Goog's allegedly unbiased search results and the current state of higher education than anything else. Surprisingly, as far as exactly what the nature of this psychiatric/psychological malady is, that seems to depend on which psychiatrist/psychologist/otherist you talk to. 

[No way! Get out! I didn't see that...]

Undaunted, since Dr. Felluga's (Ph.D.) definition contains the phrase male gaze and mentions Holloywood, I googled the search term Holloywood and male gaze.


[Well c'mon, Dorothy, what did you learn?] 

Well, one Laura Mulvey is credited with coining the phrase in an essay she wrote titled Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema in 1973. I tried to read it but even though I have 39 certified college credits I'm not smart and/or sophisticated enough to unpack this work of feminist scholarship. 

By the first sentence of the second paragraph — "The paradox of phallocentrism in all its manifestations is that it depends on the image of a castrated woman to give order and meaning to its world." — I knew I was in over my head.

In despair, I returned to the first hit of my search, the one that led me to Ms. Mulvey, and pulled up an article from Bitch Media titled Returning Our Heads — Inside the Fight to Dismantle the (White) Gods of Hollywood, and read more carefully than the first time (I confess I only skimmed it on the first pass).     

It seems that the author, Naomi McDougal Jones, has noticed what I mistakenly thought everyone already knew, that the movies are chockablock with gratuitous shots of women in every possible state of dress and undress. 

I had assumed it was because anyone with a clue understands that men are ridiculously obsessed with looking at women, that's it's biological in nature and that Holloywood, Madison Avenue — and no shortage of women  don't hesitate to exploit this fact for fun and profit. 

It turns out, unfortunately, that it's just the usual suspects, my fellow Pasty Patriarchs, the ones with all the power and money I don't have (unfortunately) that are in charge of the world. I've never even been invited to one of the meetings! 

If I had money and power I'd produce movies like one I watched recently on Netflix, The Dig, that I can't recommend enough. It's a well made, realistic story with realistic characters and real heroes. Some of them are actually likable, consciously virtuous, and it's based on a novel, not a comic book. 

Given that it's a hit and quite a departure from their standard formula for success  Blood & Bouncing Boobies filmed in Grittyvision  dare we hope for more of the same? 

Finally, lest I appear more sophisticated and more conservative than I actually am (I'm subject to frequent libertarian impulses), sometimes a well made B&BB story that doesn't insult my intelligence and has a well-drawn, likable, non-psychotic character or two is just what the doctor ordered. 

Must be my male gaze.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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