Things that are normal

And you need to stop feeling ashamed of: • being hairy • having boobs that don’t look like perfect round porn boobs • having no boobs! • stretch marks • curves in the “wrong place” • wobbly bits • cellulite • dark circles under your eyes • “big pores” • “uneven skin tone” • anything your body does naturally that isn’t an indicator of a health problem and that society wants you to change for the male gaze

Female Reading of the Male Gaze, and Sherlock

[Disclaimer because this is still getting attention:  

This isn’t about any ship

It’s barely about the show

It’s more about the male and female gaze

NOT all women see the same thing NOR all men NOR other genders

I DO feel that different people in life (pick a gender/class/race/sexuality), for whatever reason, have to and do develop different skills in evaluating other people and it’s better to be aware of that than sweep it under the carpet.

I do some massively generalizing, and I apologize for doing so, the only reason I did it was for expediency in an effort to sum up the situation as I see it.]

Why the dismissal of women’s readings of Sherlock bothers me so much

Male showrunners and actors: They’re just friends. Why are you reading sex into this?

Female fans: They obviously want each other.

Male showrunners and actors: No they don’t. You’re hysterical and oversexualized and deluded.

Female fans: No we’re not. It’s OBVIOUS they desire each other.

Male showrunners and actors: NO THEY—

Female fans: YES THEY—

[ad infinitum]

Film and television are visual mediums. The text comes from what we see, not just the script, and definitely not extra-text commentary. Sherlock especially is a strikingly visual story that is all about looking.

Any woman with any sense of self-preservation spends her whole life learning to read the male gaze. The reason is not because women are constantly checking to make sure they are desirable (as many men like to think); the reason is because women have to. The consequences for not noticing when a male gaze equals “desire” are very dangerous, and so obvious I don’t even have to explain them. Any woman who walks through a parking lot at night, who has to spend her days avoiding a co-worker who sexually harrasses her but not enough to make it worth it to fight back, who deals with members of the public service who laugh at her when she is being threatened (I am thinking of that woman in San Francisco who tried to get a BART bus driver to call the police when a man was threatening to rape her and got ignored)—any woman who LIVES ON THIS PLANET has to learn to be aware of the male gaze and interpret it for signs of arousal and/or danger from a young age. This is SO MUCH BIGGER than “women want romance” or “women want love” or any of that ignorant shorthand for “women aren’t reading this show correctly.” It is definitely bigger than Sherlock.

If a man stood right in my personal space and stared into my eyes I would know how to interpret that. If a man licked his lips while staring at my face I would know how to interpret that. If a man belitted and chased off my romantic partners I would know how to interpret that. If a man asked me to reach into his jacket and pull out his phone I would damn well know how to interpret that. Any time I have tried to brush aside suspicions under these circumstances, I was proved right that I should have trusted my instincts, and I wound up in dangerous situations (luckily, nothing terrible resulted thanks to being able to escape, but the danger was real). If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but it’s better to err on the side of caution because the alternative is so much worse. Women have to err on the side of caution. People are right when they say the sexual tension moments in Sherlock are brief, but that doesn’t matter: if you’re a woman you have to take even the briefest flashes into account. There is a reason we call these moments “eyefucking.”

Sherlock is all about the power of sight, of the gaze, specifically the male gaze. (There’s a whole article in that, but I’ll resist.)

We get Sherlock POV when he interprets a scene, with those subtitles and graphics; we get John POV for everything else (that’s my reading, anyway; Watson is the narrator of the Sherlock Holmes tales, after all). There are only a few establishing shots/omniscient narrator scenes that aren’t from John or Sherlock’s POV, e.g. the victims at the beginning of ASIP, or Moriarty texting in front of Big Ben in ASIB or in a cell in THOB. We briefly see Irene’s POV as she looks at pictures of Sherlock (in that beautiful sequence where they look at pictures of each other), but that’s about it. (I’ve never been certain whether that dream sequence of Irene interpreting the “bed scene” was from her POV or Sherlock’s or both.) I have hopes we’ll see Molly’s POV in TEH but of course I haven’t seen it yet.

The denial of the male showrunners of Sherlock and the firm disagreement of the female fans just proves to me that even in the 21st century, men and women live in different worlds.

5 men: There’s no sexual tension.

Thousands of women: Yes there is.

5 men: Clearly you’re wrong!

I don’t need this ship to be canon, it’s not the differing opinions that bothers me. The writers are free to write whatever they want and I’m on board. I just want some acknowledgement—from the world at large—that women’s perspective on human interactions is just as valid as men’s and doesn’t come from wishful thinking. Quite the opposite.

[edit: Disclaimer: Not all women viewers see sexual tension. Not all male viewers don’t. You are free to interpret a piece of cultural iconography any way you want. So am I. Again, I love the show no matter what direction they take it in, though I reserve the right to offer criticism. You are free to ignore the silencing of women’s experiences if you really want to suck at life. I don’t think the showrunners are sexist even if they exhibit sexist behavior occasionally. I don’t think their disagreement is meant to be hurtful. But it is what it is.]

 

Every girl is faced with the choice of either submitting to feminization and being accepted, or resisting and being punished. The pressure on girls to feminize themselves is universal and unrelenting. It exists in every patriarchal culture. The styles of femininity vary in quality and degree from culture to culture, but in every patriarchal culture “woman” is defined by her allegiance and orientation towards male values and desires. 

- Linda Strega, The Big Sellout: Lesbian Femininity

If I read one more whining post about why all the female characters are so ugly in ME:Andromeda I’m going to go on a comments rampage. Quite aside from the fact that the characters are NOT ugly (and it shouldn’t matter even if by your shit subjective pov if they are), suck it up dumbass. Women are not put on earth solely for your dubious pleasures. We had to live with a decidedly off-putting male gaze throughout ME and I sincerely hope they’ve abandoned that this time round.

slate.com
Images of Lesbians Are Almost Always Sexualized. How Can Lesbian Artists Fight Back?
Recently, I saw Catherine Opie’s self-portrait Dyke (1993), a photograph currently on display at the Whitney Museum in New York. Opie is a contemporary ...

“Images of us made by straight people are so often sexualized—so how can we show our bodies without playing into that narrow and damaging paradigm? […] Lesbian artists must resist the audience’s expectations. They turn away from the viewer, fragment and shield the body, acknowledge and reject the sexualization the audience has come to expect. […] In turning away from the viewer, lesbian artists not only reclaim lesbian identity from the vandalism of hypersexualization, but also insist on the beautiful reality of the female body beyond sex: a single scar, a mess of braids, a slew of freckles on a turned back.”

This is the stance that I’ve taken ever since I started making choreography that was distinctly lesbian. I think it’s true. But I’m tired of it. I’m tired of foregrounding a male/het gaze when I’m thinking about making work (in the sense that I must think about it in order to reject it). I’d like to get away from that. I’d like to just be. But it seems as though there may always things that you have to take care of before you can do that.

This piece focuses on photography, but of course it begs the question: How can one “fragment and shield” the body when it is in plain view?

How does this apply to performance? Must a woman be cropped and fragmented and carefully placed in order to eliminate distractions for the viewer, carefully leading them towards seeing her humanity? Still?

i hate when guys say shit like “why would you cut your hair? guys dont like girls with  short hair” thats like watching someone else make a sandwich for their self and saying “why are you putting tomatoes in it? i dont like tomatoes”

Can someone show me where the male gaze is used in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman? I keep trying to thing of where it might be hiding, but I just can’t find it.

Like, take Lois’ bathtub scene, right? She’s curled up into a ball (after all that stress I don’t blame her) and the most we see of her above the water are her shoulders and collarbone area (along with her knees). Not once does the camera or Clark try to sneak a peak: they both focus on Lois’ face. We don’t even get a POV shot from behind her head to show her looking up at Clark. It would have been an easy way to show more of her bare back, but that never happens.

There’s no male gaze at play there, so where is it? Can someone tell me?

Whenever I hear a  woman say that shes dieting or exercising, I really wanna give her a big hug and tell her that shes beautiful just the way she is. It’s sad that we live in a culture where women feel that unless they’re able to obtain some unrealistic, beauty standard created for the male gaze, then they’re worthless. Going to the gym or dieting won’t give you a perfect body. Having a body is what will give you a perfect body.

youtube

Interesting.

what the fuck is up with people (mainly looking @ you, men) fetishizing unconventional body hair on women? I don’t post pictures of my armpits for you to shoot your sad little load in your parents’ basement; my whole fucking point is to normalize and desexualize it.

we can’t have a goddamn inch of ourselves that you don’t try to squeeze into a sexual framework fit for the male gaze.

Seriously though Mad Max: Fury Road is the most feminist shit I have seen in a long goddamn time:

  • Disabled female in an active, independent role
  • Who can have ‘masculine’ characteristics without compromising her femininity (incredibly strong but not cold hearted)
  • DOES NOT HOOK UP WITH MALE LEAD!!!!!!!
  • Deals with important issues like rape and patriarchal oppression and possession
  • Even the ‘breeders’ were engaged and involved in the progression of the action and story- they were not just there for the male gaze or using ‘female fear’ to convey tone
  • They did not sexualise the female body?? the only time they showed a breast was when women were breastfeeding or expressing milk a.k.a what breasts are actually for
  • brilliant matriarchal biker gang
  • Furiosa saves Max multiple times
  • Max concedes the gun to Furiosa because he knows she is the better shot and doesn’t let any sort of male ego get in the way
  • Still hinted at a romance between two minor characters- showing you do not have to abandon themes of love or compassion to make a hardcore fucking film about tough ass ladies