Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Women in Art and Movies

For the second week in a row my eyes were opened to something that they have seen every day. The male gaze is present in almost every single movie I have ever watched. Although the article was a difficult read, I was able to get the main gist of it and realize the scopophilia ubiquitous in old movies. After reading the article and hearing about how women are only usually present to act for the man or have the man act on, I was shocked. Do no movies have a strong, independent woman as the protagonist? The more I thought, the more I realized that many of the movies directed at me did not fit this bill. The male gaze is everywhere, and, like language, it is taught to children at a very young age. Women need men. Women cannot act independently; they can only function for the men or for the men to look at. This is what we are teaching the youth, even the young girls and it’s disgusting. Movies like Dear John, or The Vow, or even The Hunger Games which are targeted mainly at young women females, depict a female protagonist who struggles to overcome the main conflict, but still relies heavily on and acts mainly for the male side characters. Movies like these, and many more, teach girls that they should act for the approval of the boys since they are always being watched by them. This then creates a pressure for these same girls, since they are always being watched, to look good for the on-lookers. Girls are taught to become living pieces of art, which is no better at creating gender equality than movies.
                What shocked me most about Belle’s presentation of art and gender was just how established and unchanging it could be. There’s a handful of extremely famous nude males, but the number pales in comparison to how many images of naked women there are, often faceless. Even in movies women are depicted as one of the three categories we discussed: a mother, a virgin, or slut. These are the three categories that think they must conform to and men are forcing upon them, even though to be a mother you must have sex.  The hypocrisy and generalizing done by men unto women has objectified women. That’s why the image where the naked woman was looking at the audience was so powerful, because she is not an object meant to be looked at but a human looking back.
                The male gaze, and now even the female gaze, is destructive the healthy gender relations because it forces the view to see the other gender not as an equal human but as a piece of art meant to be watched and judged. In the days following I’ve noticed that the ads varying drastically depending on the channel. Sports channels utilize woman as objects to subtly establish the patriarchy and show the male gaze, often in beer commercials, while generally women’s channels treat often treat women as humans but use negative language like we talked about last week. This objectification of women is present in both how we talk, what we read, and what we view of television. And things have just begun to get better with stars like Amy Schumer defying gender norms and just being people. 

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