Have you ever put on your favorite outfit for an outing just to change into something different at the last minute because you’re worried you would draw unwanted attention from men?
I’m sure someone out there relates to this. There’s nothing like the male gaze to ruin a bomb outfit day, but that’s not where its reign of terror ends. Truth be told, the male gaze persists despite what you wear, post, say, or do, and considering that gaze means portraying yourself in a way that would please them.
And that’s going to have to be a no for me and many other women out there, I’m sure.
So, what exactly is the male gaze?
The male gaze, a term coined by film theorist Laura Mulvey in her 1975 essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” describes the way women are depicted in media and film from the diminishing perspective of heterosexual men. But as it goes, life imitates art, and art imitates life, so there are plenty of ways we see the male gaze play out in society.
Whether it’s catcalling, making sexualized comments, or literally gazing at women’s body parts, the ramifications of the male gaze are plentiful. From mental health issues to pressure to conform to objectification, it might make you wonder how we, as women, could ever truly feel empowered to break away from the male gaze.
But we can, and we do. You reject the male gaze every time you choose to wear whatever makes you feel good.
You challenge it every time you dance like no one’s watching. You take the gaze back when you take pictures of yourself, for yourself. Essentially, whenever you decide to view the world through your own lens vs. through one of a white cishet man, you are subverting the male gaze.
Acknowledging and empowering your own gaze might be challenging initially, but it just takes practice. Start by training yourself to become more aware of the male gaze and find ways to see yourself through your own lens more. Dressing for yourself, embracing your nude body, or even taking sultry pictures is hard when you’ve been under the pressures of the male gaze for so long. But practice makes perfect.
As a community, the best thing we can do for each other is to create safe spaces made for us by us. And that’s exactly how Perzik came to be, a nudist lifestyle platform and community for women, LGBTQ+ folks, and anyone interested in dismissing the male gaze for their own.
The male gaze will only continue to harm and pressure us. So why not explore what it’s like to see yourself through your own gaze?
Written by Reese Williams.
Reese is a full-time freelance copywriter and a part-time plant mom, cook, and thrift shop regular. When she’s not caring for her plant babies or cooking up a new dish she found on TikTok, you’ll usually find her online at fiverr.