Posts Tagged ‘male gaze’
I knew as soon as this commercial started that it was going to crash & burn. I hoped, briefly, that it would be funny or subversive somehow, but no.
I feel like it speaks for itself, but one thing that the transcript fails to mention is that the female geek – whose geek specialty we are never told – comes with “accessories.” You know that was intentional, you’re supposed to see that and think dirty thoughts, what with the way she’s posed and the way the customer is drooling at her.
I fucking hate when anti-feminists blame feminists for shit that is actually the fault of the patriarchy/kyriarchy. Like, seriously, it is not feminism’s fault that girls are sexualized. Feminism said “hey, you know, women should be able to have sex if they want to and not have sex if they don’t! it’ll be awesome,” and the patriarchy said “hey, all women need to be sexually available for all men, even if they don’t want it!” and feminism said “wait, that’s not what we said at all because you totally missed out on the consent part!” and the patriarchy says “yeah, but if you have consensual sex outside of my pre-approved, God-given framework of heterosexual marriage, you were asking for it,” and feminism says “no, that’s not okay! women are autonomous human beings and we have the right to sleep with whoever we want to sleep with and to not be forced into sexual situations we don’t want!” and anti-feminism says “you made your bed, now sleep in it” and this feminist says “die in a shark on fire, anti-feminism” and then anti-feminism usually tells me off for having a potty mouth and not being submissive enough (though it has yet to clarify for me who, exactly, I should be submissive to as the unwed daughter of a widow – and yes, I have asked).
(Likewise, should an anti-feminist happen to be reading this, call me a feminazi and I will gladly kick you in the teeth. Do not accuse me of being a Nazi and do not insinuate my views are anything akin to Nazism. Learn something about a) what I’m actually saying and b) actual Nazis.)
Don’t you hate being reprimanded for something you didn’t do?
You know that whole “women are distractions” theme I’ve been harping on lately? Well, the new Allstate commercial is the most blatant example I’ve seen. There’s a guy who is supposed to be the embodiment of reasons you need car insurance; in another one, he’s a guy driving an expensive car that your current insurance won’t fully cover, so he’s going to sue you. In this one, he’s “a hot babe jogging on the side of the road” which causes “you” (in this part, a youngish (late teens/early twenties) man) to crash his car into a tree or a sign or something.
So what do we get from this commercial? Two things: first, women exist to be looked at (“woman as image, man as bearer of the look”*) and second, women are distractions.
*Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema“
If you’re not into meta/fandom, you might’ve missed the ongoing debate about slash. There’s a lot going on, so I’m going to link to a few articles instead of trying, and doubtlessly failing, to come up with something coherent on the subject, as all I have been able to do is chase myself in circles. (Ask Y: I do not enjoy not knowing the answer to something; as I have no answer for this, I’m asking y’all.)
Henry Jenkins, ever my hero, wrote the book (literally) on fan cultures, including an essay called Normal Female Interest In Men Bonking, which is one of my favorites; Geek Feminism has a post on women writing m/m erotica and the queerness or misogyny of slash fandom, and there’s a summary on why male/male fiction written by women is problematic in the eyes of some. metafandom‘s slash tag on Delicious is full of articles and entries, if you really care that much.
So, potential discussion questions: is slash misogynist? if it is misogynist, is it because of the original author’s misogyny (failing to create female characters female readers can identify with), or because of internalized sexism (girls are icky!), both or something else entirely? is it objectifying? fetishizing? Othering? appropriation of another group’s struggles? if so, what should slash writers do about that, if anything? is slash awesome because it gives women symbolic control over men’s bodies when we have, for basically ever, been denied control over our own bodies and sexualities, and basically gives us an excuse to talk, in detail, about what we find sexually appealing? or is it bad because it’s asserting hetero privilege over a marginalized group for our own entertainment? does that change if the (female*) creator/audience is queer, ourselves? if so, in what ways? can slash be a subversive genre? can writing/reading slash empowering, even as it is fetishizing? how do you tackle this particular quandary?
Or basically anything else you can think of. I wanna hear what y’all have to say. Talking in circles, tossing in facts, figures and links to relevant information (as long as they’re relevant), etc. is all fair game. Whatever you want, go!
(xposted from lion-hearted girls prefer blond(e)s.)
*yes, I am operating under the assumption that slash fen are female; I know there are exceptions.
I recently started watching the moé anime, Lucky☆Star. There is no plot; the anime is based on a four-panel comic strip of the same name, so each episode is just the four main characters having silly conversations and going about their daily lives. It passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors, since it’s a show about girls talking. I think boys have been mentioned once, not including their immediate family members.
It is, actually. It’s refreshingly light hearted and I can see elements of my own high school life in there. (I like to watch it after catching up with Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, to take some of the edge off of the latest cliffhanger.) What was surprising to me, and what I’m going to be writing about here, is that Lucky☆Star is for and by men. The author is male, and it’s published in a seinen/shounen magazine.
It seems strange at first, but I can relate to the appeal even if I can’t articulate it. After all, I am an avid fan of the series Hetalia, which is essentially the same concept: characters talking and getting up to silly antics, only the characters in Hetalia are mostly male (and anthropomorphisms of countries, but that’s another problem for another time). The fandom is mainly female. It’s the same idea.
I’m sure a lot could be said about why people are drawn to moé shows full of characters of the opposite gender doing cute things, but that’s not what I’m here about (this time). Instead, I’m writing about the politics of representation.
I mentioned on my personal journal that I had basically the same issue with Lucky☆Star that I have with Bayonetta and even Portal. They are all women’s worlds – with the exception of the hapless assistant in the Lucky☆Channel segment at the end of each episode (which hilariously deconstructs the kawaii/moé/genki girl trope by showing the female idol acting cranky and embittered when her lines are unscripted) – there is not a single major male character in Lucky☆Star. The girls talk about whatever is on their minds whether it be the correct way to eat certain foods, how to win a raffle prize or a UFO Catcher game, whether or not it’s better to study long before a test or cram all night before, and so on. It’s a homosocial female universe, but it’s a universe created by and for men.
When I posted about the fact this was a seinen/shounen comic, one of my friends commented that I wouldn’t have a problem with a similar story that was all male, but written by a woman. (Hetalia‘s author/artist is male.) Well, I guess not, but then again, we don’t live in a world where women have been historically granted (almost) exclusive rights to (the representation) of men’s bodies.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Lucky☆Star on it’s own. It’s a cute show that puts the emotional world of the female characters front and center. It’s all about them, and that’s cool. Still, it exists in a context, and within that context it’s part of a larger system of male control over the female image/ideal. I wonder, Lucky☆Star sell so well if the author/artist was female? (I can’t think of any moé series about girls written by women, or about boys written by men; so much for “write what you know.” Write what you feel is missing in your life, maybe?)
I don’t know much about the whole moé thing, but I’m familiar with a few series marketed towards women: Hetalia, Starry☆Sky and Miracle Train. Starry☆Sky was developed by a game team, not a single person; the others were written/directed by men.
The politics of representation are complicated. I can’t hope to sort it all out in one post, and I’d like to hear your thoughts on moé and who is represented and who does the representing.
A few days ago, Sociological Images* had a post about the evolution of the Dungeons & Dragons player handbooks. I mentioned that it would be interesting to see a cover with a monster woman and a sexy man, the reverse of the current cover, and Leigh mentioned that “[t]here is also a risk of putting a strong, non-human female on the cover and being accused of making strong women monstrous,” which is an interesting point.
Then today, J posted a link to this article about Bayonetta.
Having never played either Dungeons & Dragons or Bayonetta, I can only comment on the content of the articles, and I feel like the XKCD strip sums it up for me. We have this problem because women in the media haven’t been individuals; all women are symbolic of Woman. (Laura Mulvey might mention something about this in Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, look under “III Woman as Image, Man as Bearer of the Look.”)
This is not the fault of individual artists (note: see edit), but rather, of a systemic, cultural problem. If men are A, women are not-A. (I can’t find the article that I got that from, since I don’t remember the title or the author; you try Goolging “men a women not-a” and tell me if you find anything relevant.) Since women are not-A, they are the Other, and all Others are interchangeable; thus, if Bayonetta’s super sexualized, all women are (or should be) super sexualized; if Kairi’s useless, whiny and annoying, all girls are useless, whiny and annoying.
Now, a big part of the problem in media is that, for a long time, female characters were few and far between. The token girl was usually a sidekick, and a helpless one, at that. Moreover, even when she was awesome, she was a stand-in for all girls; boys could chose between being the Blue Ranger or the Green Ranger or the Red Ranger or the Black Ranger or the White Ranger, whereas girls got to be the Pink Ranger or the Yellow Ranger, and even that’s an improvement because there were two, instead of just one. (Maybe a better example is that boys could be Brock or Ash, whereas girls had to be Misty. This example repeats: Harry, Ron & Hermione, Morpheus, Neo & Trinity, etc.)
… ’cause as we know, all girls(women) are the same; they aren’t individual girls(women) they’re Girl(Woman).
I think that as we see more female (lead) characters of varying types and personalities, these issues will begin to ease up, but until we, as a society, move away from the idea that women are Woman, we’ll keep running into it over and over and over again. Female characters should be free to be as sexy, girly, chaste, tomboyish, weak, strong, badass, helpless and varied as male characters without those traits being applied to all female people. I shouldn’t freak out with joy when a series has not one but multiple awesome female characters and no female characters I want to punch in the face; I shouldn’t have to. I mean, it’s not like I throw a mini fangirl party every time a series has strong, interesting, varied, deep male characters.
tl;dr » xkcd makes you smart, SocImages is awesome, I want to be Riza Hawkeye when I grow up.
edit: this is not to say that artists don’t have any responsibility, here
*my personal favorite blog ♥