I just read an article ‘The new female gaze is shocking for its novelty and audacity’ written for The Australian (May 10, 2014) by Nikki Gemmell about how the tables have turned in the objectification of people.
Women have been objectified (like our good sister, Galatea) ‘since time immemorial’, but to objectify anyone: women, men or children, is a deplorable practice.
Many women have felt extremely uncomfortable with how women have been portrayed in written texts, films, advertisements, song videos, etc.
And like the heroine of Wide Sargasso Sea, women who ‘bucked’ the system were designated ‘Magdalene’, mad and/or dead. (The first Mrs Rochester ended in the last two unfortunate states which was very fortunate for Mr Rochester because he could then have the very socially desirable second Mrs Rochester.)
Women are often unnerved at being the object of men’s gaze. As an older woman, I find it especially unpleasant to see men ‘gazing’ at young women. In fact I feel queasy and sickened inside.
But I’m not sure that ‘tit for tat’ is the best way to address this issue. Why, if we women have detested the way men ‘gaze’ at us, would we inflict the same pain on them? I understand that the message has to get through somehow, and becoming the protagonist gazer (or should that be ‘antagonist’?) is probably a sure-fire way of making sure they get it.
I reckon that any man or woman, or child for that matter, worth their salt has not, and will not, play this voyeuristic game. It is undignified and demeaning for both gazer and the ‘gazee’ regardless of their gender.
And while change has come in the gender stakes, thanks to feminism in its various guises, there has to be a point where dignity, self-respect, and respect for others, plays its part in how we relate to the people we ‘see’ in life.