During the Second Wave, the feminist movement coined the term “male gaze” to describe the dynamics of sexual politics and how men view the female body. In his essay, Sanders discusses his own experiences with the male gaze from the standpoint of the viewer. The author shows outstanding self-awareness, admitting that in his adolescence and early adulthood, he was not immune to the peer pressure. Other men would often use derogatory terms to describe women. From what they were saying, it was evident that they did not view women as humans – to them, girls were nothing more than sexual objects. Sanders felt torn between two worldviews – the one propagated by his peers and the one that his mother tried to communicate with him. The author’s mother argued that he needed to acknowledge the emotional aspect of interaction with women. To do that, he would have to promote empathy and compassion and not do to others what he would like to be done to himself.
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The question arises as to whether the problem of the male gaze is incidental or universal and how men should look at women. Ponterotto considers the phenomenon as strictly negative: the feminist author claims that the male gaze turns the female bodies into commodity (145). Following this logic, one would assume that men should refrain from looking at the opposite sex altogether. This perspective on the issue seems a tab bit radical and not exactly feasible. It seems that the answer might lie in the integration of two tendencies: sexual attraction and respect. It is not possible to remove the sexual tension that occurs between men and women. A man desiring a woman is not breaking any laws or doing anything immoral – he merely follows his impulses. Yet, men need to moderate their behavior and self-reflect in order to make sure that they acknowledge all sides to women’s personalities and treat them with respect.
Ponterotto, Diane. “Resisting the Male Gaze: Feminist Responses to the “Normatization” of the Female Body in Western Culture.” Journal of International Women’s Studies, vol. 17, no. 1, 2016, pp. 133-151.
Sanders, Scott Rassel. Looking at Women. N.d., Web.