“Eyes are the windows to the soul.”– William Shakespeare
Art school teaches you a lot of things about real life. One of the biggest topics covered in a first year foundation course, is the male gaze!
Conceptually, the male gaze is just what it is i.e. the gaze of a man. Stereotypically, the source of the male gaze is a white man (white supremacy ahoy), followed by a half-white man, then the yellow man, the brown man, the red man and finally, the black man.
Women do not feature as active participants in this concept of social hierarchy (surprise surprise). However, they still have ‘their place’ as passive objects in this equation (or lack thereof).
Of course, the racial hierarchy stays intact i.e. the white woman, then the half white. And so on function as objects of different levels of quality.
Now, the male gaze seeks to possess. Which is why, though a Western concept, it is globally applicable and in a country like India, necessary to talk about. India, where the gender ratio is criminal, where rape culture is a passive aggressive beast, hiding behind the cases of rape itself and of course the taboo of sex, not taking this issue up would be injustice. India, where a solitary stroll to the general store is not a stroll but a strategic act of warfare-
1) Go out during the daytime.
2) Don’t take the isolated shortcut.
3) Walk fast.
4) Stick to the sidewalk to avoid getting groped.
5) Spend time asking yourself whether there is some way you can avoid going altogether.
6) Steel yourself. Wear your armour. Back straight, fists clenched, shoulders taut, ears pricked, neck coiled, eyes looking like two cubes you just got out of the freezer, lids hooded and Head; Held. High!
Indian women are the strongest women out there. They’ve seen it all. They’ve felt the sting of lustful eyes on every inch of their bodies and shot back daggers or turned themselves to stone. What do men know? Women are things to put something in and get things out of. They are the vessels of pleasure and the producers of kin. Sounds like a printing machine; the ink, blood and tears.
The worst is, no man can even come close to experiencing the male gaze. So many find it hard to believe it even exists. Take my word for it and the word of every woman out there. It does. You don’t need to touch me to attack me. You don’t need to whistle and hoot to harass me. The male gaze is enough.
Do you have eyes? Eyes that hold the arrogant knowledge of your masochistic outlook to this world; eyes that say, I have power, I have strength and you are nothing but the source of my pleasure? Then, “I have a voice. I have my hands and feet and teeth and nails. I will gouge out your eyes and feed them to the crows. Try me”, so said every Indian woman- under her breath- ever!
But saying it is just not enough. And I really don’t want to get my hands dirty whilst gouging things. I’d rather try to help dissect this sickness and find a solution to it.
And guess what, men can actually be active participants in eradicating this ‘bemaari’ as well! There are men out there who do not have the male gaze. And we women can tell them apart in the blink of an eye (pun intended).
To those human men out there, know thyself. Spread the word. Stop your friends from using the male gaze or stop being friends with them! Show them you mean it! It’s all about the mind-set. Change that and Bharat ka naksha badal jayega!
The male gaze can only be eradicated once it is acknowledged, understood and then managed and controlled. Go team?
About the Author:
Meher is a freelance conceptual artist, writer and activist. She is an avid reader, singer, runner and a foodie!