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    How The Piercing Male Gaze Has Left Me Disturbed Every Single Time

    We have all been through it, the piercing gaze making us feel uncomfortable down to our very cores us constantly covering up our cleavage in low-cut tops and whatnot, all just to save ourselves from the terrifying male gaze. 
    Updated at - 2023-02-20,12:54 IST
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    It is daylight, you walk across a street and suddenly feel a gaze upon you. You start moving swiftly, constantly looking over your shoulder, you get to the metro station and rush in to catch the first train that you can hop on. As soon as you board, you endure more unsolicited male attention. The piercing gaze scanning your body from top to bottom leaves you paralysed. You de-board the train with a burdened heart. You aren't alone. We’ve all been there. The deadly stares leave me feeling vulnerable too. 

    I grew up in a cocooned habitat;, my parents were always around me, and when not, they would ensure that my younger brother accompanied me as my shield. Over time, I was made to keep a list of precautions while travelling alone, whether to college or to work. The list was long. Avoiding “modern” outfits, avoiding eye contact with men while travelling on public transport, being careful about my interactions with men, and getting back home before my curfew time, among others. 

    Why Is The Male Gaze Disturbing?

    The male gaze belittles a woman while also objectifying her. It makes the woman feel like a sexual object In simple terms, it is an act where a pair of eyes linger over you only to sexualise your body. You feel unsafe. 

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    More than physical, the male gaze also creates a psychological effect and it can last for long. If you have been a victim of the male gaze, you might not be strong enough to fight it back. There have been instances in the past where I ditched the bus and took the metro because I felt at least the ladies' coach might save me the horror. Then, there have been times when I pretended to look out of the window while travelling in a cab when I felt the driver was constantly staring at me through the mirror. We have all been there at some point or the other!

    Cinema's Contribution

    Do you know, the term male gaze was coined back in the year 1975? Feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey introduced the word to describe how women were objectified and seen as pleasure objects. Cut to 2023, women continue to be treated the same way in most movies.

    Don't Miss: 5 Common Things Women Do That Gets Sexualised By Men

    Through the years, cinema has ingrained this idea in our minds that a woman's physical appearance matters the most. It is the way she looks that attracts the men around her. Be it a Sheila Ki Jawani or a Oo Antava, the titillatingly shot visuals of a woman makes her sexually desirable to men. 

    Not just in item songs, little moments from movies, where the lead might be scanning through the heroine's legs as she walks by in a short skirt or  in something cleavage-bearing. This is supposed to be romantic because the hero does it.

    Male Gaze Adds To Gender Stereotypes 

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    The idea of the male gaze where a woman is looked at as a sexual object is disparaging. The male gaze is a direct manifestation of patriarchal beliefs. It gives men power over women. For men, women end up becoming mere objects rather than an individual with feelings, dreams, and desires of her own.

    Don't Miss: What Is Cinematic Male Gaze And Why Is It Problematic?

    Male Gaze Leaves Us Uncomfortable In Our Bodies 

    When we are looked at as mere objects, the way we view our bodies changes. We begin to modify the way we look, and the clothes we pick for our daily outings. Be honest, how many times have you ditched outfits that you thought revealed too much skin or were too showy? Despite this self-policing, we end up feeling hyper aware and uncomfortable. 

    There are times when women often start perceiving themselves  from that objectifying gaze. However, it is time we change that. But we need to unlearn and re-condition our minds. It doesn’t happen overnight. It took me time to acknowledge it myself  but it finally happened. Don't just get tired of it and give up. We have a long way to go. Only when you begin accepting yourself and stop giving two hoots about how society looks at you, will you be able to emerge to get demand  the space and respect you deserve.


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