Category: Stuff (Page 1 of 2)

Some reflections on the male gaze

by Madeleine Baber

Whilst it is mildly infuriating that one of the best analyses of the male gaze and its impact on the female psyche was made by a man, I cannot deny that John Berger hit the nail on the head when he wrote:​

Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed is female. Thus, she turns herself into an object of vision: a sight.

When I first encountered this quote, I felt as if I suddenly understood a hither-to-unnoticed aspect of life. Where I had heard of the ‘male gaze’ before then, I had never truly grasped the concept. Once I had, there was no going back. I saw the traces of it everywhere. It pervaded every film, book, and TikTok. All my clothes were ruined. My entire childhood was reimagined under its dominance. Perhaps this is because I was struggling with my body image at the time, but for me the gaze was malignant, and it had breathed its poisonous breath onto everything I knew.

As it is for most of us who experience it, my ‘awkward phase’ was long and unbearable. Average height, above-average weight, unruly ginger hair that I desperately tried in vain to make fit the aesthetic, those ridiculous rectangular plastic glasses, such as all old Tumblr users should remember well. I was, in a word, ‘frumpy.’

It wasn’t until the latter half of year ten that I purged myself of awkwardness. And once I had, as every person who’s ever shed a couple of kilos and put some layers in their hair can attest to, I noticed a tangible difference in the way my peers treated me. anymore. I had a name and a face and I won the game the gaze insisted I play, losing again always stuck around.

In my final year of college, I outgrew my favourite pair of trousers, my long hair into a curly whatever-the-fuck, and stopped wearing lifted weights. Maybe I should have seen this as liberation, but more like deterioration. For months I felt trapped under my heaviness. I looked at others and I only saw my all-too-big reflection in their eyes. In conversations, I felt myself as an overwhelming presence, a ghastly monster that everyone was simply too polite to scream at. I longed for my eyes to be taken out of my head and placed above me so that I could always observe myself, know my every angle, and know what others saw. The limits of my sense of vision were a constant torture for me.

In my life, there was an omnipresent male and he watched me and all the women around me all the time. He was my surveyor, their surveyor. He was our prison warden or still is maybe.

Berger was right. I had turned myself into a vision: a sight.

And truth be told I cannot comfortably use the past tense here. I’m not sure there is a way for a mere individual to completely throw out years of social conditioning. The gaze still exists, and the surveyor still surveys because he is both within and without, micro and macro, individual and collective.

I think, if I were to dispense some kind of wisdom into this article of mine, just in case someone needs it, I would say: yes, I am seen, but it doesn’t end there. When I’m with friends they see me. But they also hear my voice, my bad takes, my laugh. When I’m with my boyfriends, they see me. But they also feel the warmth of my embrace, the softness of my skin. They get strands of my hair in their mouths and their buttcracks. They smell me on their bedsheets long after I’ve gone. People on the street, they see me. But after that glance, I am forgotten, simply a fleeting moment to them, a waft of air, a footstep. They see me, but they also experience me. They are not my surveyors; they do not scan me in search of flaws. Nor am I a still image. No, I am not a sight, I am a presence. I am a presence that is seen on occasion but, most of the time, is felt. And the person who feels it the most is me.

So, I hope this mindset will help me ignore the surveyor even when he continues to survey. I can give up on trying to expand my field of vision to include myself. I will never be aware of what I look like all the time. Am I even remotely aware of what everyone else looks like all the time? I believe my impressions of others are far more abstract than that. And that abstractness is countless times more powerful and beautiful than any single image, or 5 lost kilos, or 10 good hair days could ever be.

Our experience is beyond our appearance.

Male nudity in public spaces

by Emily Mead

cw nudity, sexual assault, male entitlement, anxiety, mentions of genitalia, swearing, possible biological essentialism


i feel u mike

feminists are often accused of focusing too much on the little things and looking for offence; we  basically go through life searching for molehills to make mountains out of, because that’s just our idea of fun, I guess!!! so when I complain about cis men stripping down and parading around topless during summer, or drunk men peeing in public, some people just assume it’s because I’ve run out of Important Things to be angry about.

chances are, if you’re a cis man, you might vaguely know that this is annoying, but never really think about how harmful this sort of behaviour is. that’s probably because cis male nudity is normalised throughout childhood and in popular culture, whereas female nudity is portrayed as an exclusively sexual thing… cis male nudity is so commonplace that you can get away with doing it without anyone batting an eyelid (or at least, with no-one feeling safe enough to tell you it makes them uncomfortable).

cis men exposing their bodies in public spaces is really fucking irritating because just shows how entitled they feel to public spaces (you might also have heard of / partaken in manspreading). when you take your shirt off because it’s hot outside, when you pee in public because you can’t be arsed to find a bathroom, when you send unsolicited dick pics for whatever reason you thought was appropriate (???), you are implicitly asserting your dominance and saying that your comfort matters more than everyone else’s.

as if that wasn’t enough to be upset about in the first place, this sort of crap can make survivors of sexual violence really fucking uncomfortable to say the least. Gross cis men imposing their nudity on me is a really fucking awful reminder of times when dudes felt like it was ok to subject me to way more than I’d consented to— at best displays of cis male nudity make me feel disgusted and unsafe, at worst they give me panic attacks. i’m sure (i hope?) that wasn’t the intended effect.

please please p l e a s e think about what you’re doing when you treat unwanted nudity like it’s no big deal. in future, before you pull this kind of shit, think about whether or not the people around you are okay with what you’re doing. (they’re probably not).


two things, in case someone has opinions about this

1— please don’t even think of talking about #freethenipple and how **everyone** should get naked for equality to be achieved. not only is it weird that you’d try to use a liberation movement for people with breasts against them just to make a point, but it’s problematic in that it mostly focuses on liberating able bodied cis white women. being able to take my top off without feeling too uncomfortable is a massive fucking privilege that I have & i have 0 interest in subjecting people to that. so yeah no, “women should get naked too!!!” is not nearly as relevant or useful as you might think

2— if a woman’s experience isn’t enough to convince you that there might be something wrong with forcing your nudity on non consenting strangers, here’s a heartfelt tale from a reformed dudebro who has seen the error of his dick displaying ways (same content warnings as this article apply + alcohol, discussion of homophobia).

Why the vampire craze is bad news for feminism

That is the question that has plagued the mind of most teenage boys and young men, baffled parents and young women disturbed by their own sexual desires.

We all know about the vampire craze. The other day I was in a book shop that had a vampire section; no joke! Vampires are everywhere, I’m sure I don’t need to list the obvious culprits like True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Being Human and the most obvious culprit Twilight. Continue reading

If ‘doms why not dams?

It’s about twenty to four on a Sunday afternoon. Having spent an hour in Boots frantically but unsuccessfully searching for what I need, I am now in my local pharmacy. This pharmacy stocks literally every product under the sun and is open seven days a week till ten p.m. Do you have a minor skin ailment on the underside of your left knee-cap at certain times during the month? This pharmacy has a multitude of creams and lotions for it. Do you find that your child resolutely only speaks German whenever your second cousin comes round? The person behind the counter will prescribe you something, trust me. I’m taking my time, sidling around the shop, looking extremely casually through every shelf. Then I find what I’m looking for. The contraception section has, very cunningly, or so I think, been shelved next to the oral hygiene section. ‘Aha!’ I say to myself (silently)’. Someone here has a warped sense of humour, and has slid the dental dams in next to the condoms, but on the oral shelf. Brilliant.

« Older posts

© 2024 Gender Agenda

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑