I saw on an online forum a question asking if there is the female equivalent of the Male Gaze.
There is no question when you look around in photography and wider popular culture the phenomenon of the Male Gaze. Scantily clad young women adorn pages of magazines, newspapers and in advertising. Movies are told from the male point of view. Take The Graduate, the story is about the coming of age of a young man and what his future holds. How different and more interesting it would have been if it was told from the perspective of Ann Bancroft’s character Mrs Robinson and her attempt to break free from an unhappy life.
So is the Female Gaze the exact opposite of the Male Gaze? Is it male strip shows and “Playgirl” images? To me, it doesn’t feel like a definition created by women but rather created by men assuming what women think. There might be some women who see the Female Gaze as this but if you started with a blank sheet of paper or canvas would this be what it really looks like?
Western art has been developed through men’s eyes. It hasn’t until recently that the influence of women been able to break through the centuries of male domination. Giving women a voice is what the Female Gaze should be all about.
So how easy is it for women to achieve this? Well not that easy. Social media has a habit of censoring real images of women.
What I have found that it is so much easier discovering work by men than women. There is the attitude of some (male) photographers discouraging women photographers to the point which you could class as bullying and harassment. If you ask me the male bias is still alive and well.
So what can I do about it? It isn’t a direct battle for me to fight. All I can do is to try to support as many women artists as possible by buying their books, art or visiting their exhibitions and telling other people about it.