is seen all too often as a harmless indulgence in entertainment and far too little seen as the most powerful platform in (arguably) the world, that it is. This platform is feasibly responsible for influencing our ideas on everything from gender and relationships to self-image and self-worth. How can we be so naive to think that this overwhelmingly evident yet oftentimes unnoticed sector, does not hugely impact us?
And how does this play into gender studies?
I’m just going to say it: Pop Culture is everywhere. Because of this, women are growing up, not only being subject to male gaze but also viewing themselves through it. Male gaze is training men and women alike to view women as the viewed and men as the viewers, and it is not a new idea.
This truth has struck a bit of a cord with me. I’ve begun thinking about the things I like and in this, realizing that much of this is seen through this tunnel vision. One example is the artwork of Roy Lichtenstein which I have adored since as long as I can remember. Lichtenstein uses a common focus of one specific woman in much of his work. I was hard-pressed to find an image where she was not seen through the male gaze – but couldn’t. I wonder how many other things I enjoy just like Lichtenstein’s work, have unknowingly shaped my ideas of what it means to be a woman.
I wonder too, how has media unknowingly shaped other sectors of life that impact me? What it means to be constantly viewed and on display?
Is this why I feel the need to do my hair and makeup before leaving the house, but my boyfriend can simply role out of bed, good-to-go?
Is this why I prefer working out in the women’s room at my gym? Do I inadvertently shy away from the rest of the gym because I see it as men’s territory? Or is it because I don’t deem my body as male-gaze, ready?
Does this mean I should not like the things that I like or does it mean that I’ve been taught to like the things that I like?
These questions are problematic in so many ways, and if I’m being honest, I don’t have a definitive answer for even one of them. Through identifying this idea of male gaze in pop culture and becoming increasingly aware through active discussion among other things, we (all of us!) will better equip ourselves to grow towards autonomy regardless of the images and messages surrounding us. While we cannot deny the impact popular culture has, we can control how aware we are. If nothing more, it’s at least a start.