Status Report: Adjusting the Male Gaze

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m struggling with retraining the way I look at women.  I’m still finding it difficult, something I have to think about constantly.  It’s become easier, though, in the sense that I’m getting a kinesthetic feel for the difference between the physicality of how I look at a man versus how I look at a woman.  This lets me change my body by summoning up a sort of feeling – as if looking at a man involves a completely different posture than looking at a woman.

 

Psychologically, I’m still having a tough time.  I’m encountering moments where my entire perspective changes.  It’s as if I’ve been looking at women though a fun house mirror my entire life, which enhances their sexual attractiveness.  And now, for a moment here and there, I can see them as they really are, or at least, without the perspective of the mirror.  It’s fairly depressing.  Seeing women as people, so to speak, is a let down.  Maybe in time I’ll start to see a subtle beauty to replace what I’m losing, but for now, women seem crude and ugly.

 

But most of the time, I still see them as I normally do, despite my (admittedly unmotivated) struggle to do otherwise.  I find it’s making me uncomfortable around women I’m attracted to, as I don’t want to lose that feeling of arousal by seeing her as she “really is”, but I know continuing to see her in the sexualized way I do is morally wrong.  It seems I’m obligated to adjust my perspective in a way that makes women, and therefore my world, less beautiful, which is frustrating.

 

Addendum:  Sometimes, I argue with myself as a way of using discussion to think about certain topics.  Sometimes, the “voices” I argue with seem to speak unbidden (I’m not crazy, just a little starved for conversation.  Really.).  This just happened, and here’s a reasonable approximation of what was “said”, for what it’s worth.

 

I know it seems hopeless now, but that’s just because you’ve been blinded by the comic book style the filters the Patriarchy has placed over your eyes.  Remember in the Matrix, when Neo first woke up in the Nebuchadnezzar, and complained of not being able to see.  He was told he had never really used his eyes.  Same thing.  I know this is a shock, but as you get used to it, you’ll see beauty in everything, not just a few select, perfect ideals.  And one day, you’ll see a woman – really see her – whose beauty will surpass anything these puerile ideals polluting your thoughts can offer you.  So don’t give up hope.

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~ by arkhilokhus on April 9, 2008.

3 Responses to “Status Report: Adjusting the Male Gaze”

  1. Here is the closest analogue from my experience. When I was severely shy, I would stare at women from a distance. Look, but never touch. While I did so, I would feel this crushing feeling in my chest, like my soul was being ripped from my body. It was a feeling of lust combined with shame and deprivation. Yet I couldn’t look away.

    Yet after I studied seduction, became able to interact with women socially, and gained some sexual and romantic experience with women, I stopped feeling this way when looking at women. I didn’t get that kind of bittersweet feeling anymore. I could enjoy feeling attraction to women, yet I no longer felt that she was some sort of porcelain statue or unreachable goddess.

    I have no problem with looking at women in a sexualized way, because I know that once I meet her, I will be able to appreciate her other qualities also. Though if I see an especially beautiful woman who I see regularly, I try to avoid fantasizing about her until I’ve met her; it feels not only wrong for some reason, but also harmful to me… it’s a waste of my emotional resources to feel longing for women I won’t be with. See also the pickup artist discussion of the concept of “one-itis” (and “situational one-itis,” e.g. going to a party where you get a temporary crush on woman for the entire night, such that you are tongue-tied around her or don’t even manage to approach her).

    The solution to the male gaze: talk to women. That way, they can engage you as people.

  2. Also, I left you a comment in the Alone thread, and I wanted to make sure you see it.

    Something else I think you will like is Infra’s blog. He talks about seduction, gender politics, religion, and various other things.

  3. Hugh,

    Welcome, and thanks for your comments.

    You make an excellent point about shyness, but there’s another side to the matter, I think. The way that the sexualization of women affects the way men look at women is problematic. That’s not to say that men don’t or can’t see women as people and relate to them on more than a sexual level, of course, but rather that the effect of being seen as a potential sexual partner constantly seems to have an intimidating effect on women. And so I propose that there is a moral duty for men to change at least the way they look at women.

    My own exerience, though, is that trying to do this is difficult, and I’m trying to explore both where this difficulty lies and alternative models for relating to female attractiveness.

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