The male gaze, a term coined by film theorist Laura Mulvey, is the idea that in film women are often depicted through the perspective of a straight man. While Mulvey was writing specifically about movies, the male gaze can be found anywhere women are depicted, and it’s important that as creators and consumers of art we take every chance to deconstruct the pervasive patriarchal lens. That’s why I fundamentally reject the male gaze in all its manifestations, unless it’s coming from a cameraman who can get me on the Jumbotron at a Rangers game or something like that.
As a feminist, it’s important to me that women are represented in all their complex, nuanced, and messy glory. We need diversity behind the camera to meet this goal. Also as a feminist, I have a strong and deep desire to get on the jumbotron at any major sporting event I attend, and in this case I will do anything in my power — waving my arms, desperately trying to establish eye contact, ceaseless dancing — to attract the gaze of the male cameraman with the power to get me up on that fan-of-the-game big screen. The ability to hold these two seemingly opposing ideas at once is the duality of woman, and perhaps the most feminist thing of all.
We’re starting to see changes in the way pop culture frames women, but we need to see even more. Specifically, I want to see myself framed by a 5,000 square foot monitor as I try to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with enough gusto to stay up there for longer than most people get, to the point that the rest of the crowd notices and maybe cheers a little, and my friend gets a video of the whole thing and I make it my story, then there’s so much engagement, I move it to main. So if I have to be male gazed upon to make that happen, I think it’s still a win for women everywhere.
Ultimately, there is always the exception that proves the rule, and for me that’s rejecting the male gaze while still wanting my face projected onto a massive screen in a sports stadium, and having the confidence to think I would know what to do with all that attention if I got it. Anyway, for all I know the cameraman is queer!