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Afshan Iqbal
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What Is the male Gaze? The male gaze describes a way of portraying and looking at women that empowers men while sexualizing and diminishing women. While biologically, from early adolescence on, we are driven to look at and evaluate each other as potential mates, the male gaze twists this natural urge, turning the women into passive items to possess and use as props. This concept is not just about how women (and their bodies) are used to satisfy male fantasy but also how this gaze, whether it’s directed at them or others, makes women feel about themselves. Naturally, the influence of the male gaze seeps into female self-perception and self-esteem. The pressure to conform to this patriarchal view and endure being seen in this way shapes how women think about their own bodies, capabilities, and place in the world. In essence, the male gaze discourages female empowerment and self-advocacy while encouraging self-objectification and deference to men and the patriarchy at large. The male gaze objectifies a woman’s character. Especially it is promoted through movies. Men writing the films, men making the films, men being the protagonists, and men being the target audience all combine into a unified male perspective of female characters. In other words, we have all been conditioned to adopt the male gaze because that is the way we were “raised” by traditional cinema.  Female characters must perform their story function while also adhering to the male fantasies, being beautiful or sexy is all that’s needed. Girls are constantly asked to sit properly, straighten their posture, dress up to attract people and cover up what displeases them. As women, this discomfort with their bodies continues. Studies have repeatedly found that the mere anticipation of the male gaze leads to higher levels of self-objectification in women and subsequently, increased negativity about themselves. Like with everything else in the patriarchal society we live in, it is time we took this gaze back. The only gaze that matters is your own. The concept of the male gaze should be varnished because it’s a curse to society.