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thegrandnarrative : male-gaze   19

Can a Porn Website Liberate Women in Art?
An artwork doesn’t disrupt the male gaze simply because it’s created by a woman. For example, Marilyn Minter’s high-gloss inkjet prints of women’s pubic areas, framed by their manicured hands (Plush series, 2014), fetishize with all the subtlety of a porn-magazine spread. It’s hard to see how Delia Brown’s live drawing studio disrupts the gaze: a small window in a gallery wall invites all viewers to watch as Brown paints nude and semi-nude women. And Trulee Hall’s videos of attractive women in lingerie groping giant rocks (SexyTime Rock Variatons, 2019) and live and papier-mâché women simulating group sex (Eves’ Mime Menage, 2019) seem to hover between performing and parodying women’s desire.

None of these works seem to critically engage with or reclaim female sexuality, nor do they push boundaries. Duchamp’s “Étant donnés” (1946-66) may be misogynistic, but it bites back at the viewer with its voyeuristic charge. (And no feminist artist confronted Duchamp’s male-centric art more audaciously than Hannah Wilke, who is not in the exhibition, in her deliberately stilted 1976 striptease video Hannah Wilke Through the Large Glass.)

...While eroticism may be a conduit to liberation for some women, pornography is its own animal, and invites a host of thorny issues in relation to female self-determination. But without a sharper focus on society’s attacks on the agency and bodies of women, especially in relation to sex, the necessity of casting The Pleasure Principle as an explicitly all-female show is unclear. It’s delusional to think that free internet porn could play a meaningful part in women’s rights, when Pornhub’s viewers are 75-percent male and the exploitation and degradation of women are integral to pornography’s appeal; and Pornhub’s suggestion, through its sponsorship, that women can refuse or transcend their objectification in explicit portrayals feels disingenuous at best. The voices that rise to the occasion here do so because they are stronger than the platform they’ve been given.
pornography  sexual-objectification  male-gaze 
21 days ago by thegrandnarrative
Eye-tracking study finds sexually fluid women assess other females’ bodies in a manner similar to men

Women who are flexible in their sexual attraction have gaze patterns that are similar to heterosexual men when viewing a nude female body, according to new research published in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.

“While the components of sexual psychology are typically seen as having discrete categories, recent research has begun to suggest that sexual attraction, gender identity, and sexual behavior should be considered on a continuum. This notion has been termed sexual fluidity,” noted the authors of the study, which was led by David R. Widman, a psychology professor at Juniata College.

In the study, 81 undergraduate students viewed images of nude male and female bodies on a computer screen, which was equipped with an eye tracking device. The participants also completed several surveys to assess their sexuality.

In line with previous research, Widman and his colleagues found that women tended to be more sexually fluid than men, meaning women were more likely to report that their sexual attractions, fantasies, and behaviors had fluctuated over time.

The researchers also found that women who reported more fluidity gazed at female’s chest region more than less fluid women.

“The most interesting part of the findings were that women who were fluid in their sexual interests scanned women’s bodies in a similar way to men; they spent more time looking at the breasts of the female stimuli,” Widman told PsyPost.

But why are women more fluid than men on average? Some theories suggest that this is a result of reproductive pressure from men and previous research has found that a considerable proportion of heterosexual men desire women who experience same-sex attractions.

“These attractions may serve to bring other women to a relationship, decrease cuckoldry by giving women an outlet for sexual gratification outside of the pair without risk of pregnancy and decrease possible conflict in households with multiple wives, especially given polygamy was considered much more common in the ancestral condition,” Widman said.

But as with all research, the study is not without some caveats.

“In pilot testing, we found that our men would not gaze long at the breasts, as had been reported by others. However, by pixelating the faces, we found the men did spend time on the breasts. This allowed us to compare the men to the women in the study,” Widman explained.

“As to why the men did not focus much time on the breasts in the non-pixelated condition, we think it was due to the experimenters; they are both attractive young women. We think that they were too polite to stare.”

“We also found that heterosexual women did gaze at men’s sexualized areas as well. This is slightly different from the literature that suggests women spend more time gazing a nude men’s faces. Although the face receives significant attention, the hips and groin received equal attention,” Widman added.

“I attribute this to the pixelation of the male stimuli’s faces for similar reasons as the men not gazing at the breasts of the nude women, political correctness and decorum. However, when we pixelate the faces this allows the attention to move.”

The study, “Gaze Patterns of Sexually Fluid Women and Men at Nude Females and Males“, was authored by David R. Widman, Madeline K. Bennetti, and Rebecca Anglemyer.
male-gaze  female-gaze  queer-female-gaze 
22 days ago by thegrandnarrative
Is Allen Jones’s sculpture the most sexist art ever? | Art and design | The Guardian
The challenge was, as Natalie Ferris writes in Allen Jones and the Masquerade of the Feminine, that these sculptures came out at the same time as second-wave feminism not by coincidence, but because they were both exploring the same thing: “the imagery of capitalism, in which the alluring female body did not act as a sign for its owner’s own sexuality, but only as it existed for the male sexual imagination”. But what did Jones’s exploration amount to? Was it critique or endorsement? It seems pretty plain that the sculptures aren’t meant to be titillating, but are they debasing? If we accept that this battle existed, between the imagery of women-as-sex-instruments on the one side, and women as whole people on the other, then merely to represent it is feeble, a kind of proto-postmodern cowardice: “I’m not saying this is right or wrong, OK? I’m just saying, ‘Here are some tits.’ Get over yourself.” From the time they were created until 1986, when Chair was vandalised with acid, the sculptures were the subject of great anger.
sexual-objectification  male-gaze  art 
september 2019 by thegrandnarrative
Sexual images are just as arousing for women as they are for men | New Scientist
By Clare Wilson

Women’s brains react to pornography just as much as men’s, challenging the widespread belief that men get more turned on by visual stimuli.

The finding comes from a review of 61 brain scanning studies that showed men and women pornographic pictures or films as they lay in a brain scanner.

Although there is wide variation in behaviour among both sexes, men are usually seen as being more interested in sex. In questionnaire-based research, the responses suggest that men find erotic images more appealing than women do. This is often interpreted as women requiring more of an emotional connection before they become aroused.

This difference was seemingly confirmed with the advent of brain-scanning studies, with some finding that men’s brains are more responsive to pornography.
No difference

But the field of brain scanning has been criticised in recent years for being prone to using methods that can lead to spurious results, such as drawing conclusions from small differences that could have arisen by chance. So Hamid Noori at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany, and colleagues analysed the results from all the brain-scanning studies that have tried to answer this question, looking at the whole brain and covering nearly 2000 people. Overall it found no difference between men and women.

“There are differences in behaviour – the number of men going to porn sites is roughly 80 per cent of the consumers,” says Noori. “But men and women respond the same way at the brain level to visual sexual stimuli. What we do with it afterwards is what brings the difference.”

Women may watch less pornography because it is more stigmatised, says David Ley, a writer and sex therapist at outpatient centre New Mexico Solutions. He says the study shows “women can be just as visual as men, if they are allowed to be”.

The findings don’t prove women’s and men’s brains react to pornography identically, as brain scans only show activity at the level of relatively large anatomical structures, says Noori – there could still be differences at the level of brain cells that don’t show up on scans.

Journal reference: PNAS, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1904975116
pornography  sexual-desire  male-gaze  female-gaze  sexual-objectification 
july 2019 by thegrandnarrative
The Meaning behind Gabrielle D’Estrées and One of Her Sisters - Artsy
Despite what it might look like to the contemporary viewer, a purely queer reading of the work would be misguided. Rather than a depiction of lesbian foreplay, most art historians interpret the painting as an announcement that Gabrielle is pregnant with the King’s illegitimate son. It’s her sister who is signaling this to the audience, not her lover. The fingers wrapped around Gabrielle’s nipple symbolizes the latter’s fertility, an allusion emphasized by the presence of the figure sewing baby’s clothes in the back of the painting.
It seems naive to believe that both readings can’t simultaneously be true. Its original audience, however ignorant of modern definitions of sexuality, couldn’t fail to recognize the erotic potential of the painting. In another of Brantôme’s writings, he details a woman so aroused by the painting that she has to immediately leave the room to have sex with her (male) courtier.
Far more difficult for a queer interpretation of the work is its fetishistic portrayal of the women. With its emphasis on the erotic possibilities between sisters, and Gabrielle’s status as a mistress—sexualized and stripped even when relaying a pregnancy announcement—the work seems to slide from a representation of queerness to an object of the straight gaze. Commenting on Brantôme’s story, Zorach voices how these depictions of lesbian arousal “are always in the eventual service of heterosexuality.”
The complex reality is that all of these seemingly conflicting views are valid: Gabrielle d’Estrées and One of Her Sisters is simultaneously a sexualized queer scene, a coded announcement of a royal pregnancy, and an erotic fantasy meant to entice straight audiences. To prioritize one reading over the others would be an injustice, a smoothing over of the very complexities that both enrich and frustrate queer histories.
art  art-history  queer-art  male-gaze  female-gaze  queer-gaze 
july 2019 by thegrandnarrative
Why we still need John Berger’s Ways of Seeing | Dazed
But it’s Berger’s discussion of how we look at women which resonates most strongly in our current image-obsessed society. Today, the idea of the male gaze may seem well established, and Berger and his all-male team didn’t claim to invent the concept which would later be christened by film critic Laura Mulvey. But this was 1972 – the Sex Discrimination Act was still three years away, contraception wasn’t yet covered by the NHS, and it would be almost a decade before women could take out loans in their own names without a male guarantor. And yet, here they were, on one of only three channels on mainstream television, sitting in a group and discussing issues such as agency, empowerment, and their relationships to their own bodies and to men. Of course, not everyone was pleased about it – according to the Guardian, Ways of Seeing was derogatorily compared to Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book “for a generation of art students”.
male-gaze  art  John-Berger  Ways-of-Seeing 
january 2019 by thegrandnarrative
Anne Brigman, a Pioneering Photographer of Nude Self-Portraits - Artsy
Some art historians believe that Brigman was the first woman in America to photograph herself nude. Her trailblazing, yet long-neglected work is now the subject of an expansive retrospective at the Nevada Museum of Art. “For Brigman to objectify her own nude body as the subject of her photographs in the early 1900s was radical,” writes curator Ann M. Wolfe. “To do so outdoors in a place perceived as an unoccupied and near-desolate wilderness was revolutionary.”

Pairing the retrospective with the exhibition “Laid Bare in the Landscape,” the museum provides a vital link between Brigman and the feminist art of the 1970s and after—works by women such as Ana Mendieta, Cindy Sherman, Mary Beth Edelson, Judy Chicago, Barbara Kruger, and Hannah Wilke that reclaimed the representation of the female body from patriarchal art history. These works often amount to a reversal of gazes: If art history traditionally centered on the female-as-model, an object for male consumption, these women artists challenged that convention in their depictions of their own naked forms. By staging her photographs against such dramatic scenery, Brigman, according to Wolfe, was practicing an early form of performance art.
nude-art  nudity  female-gaze  male-gaze 
january 2019 by thegrandnarrative
Victoria's Secret, American Apparel, And The Death of Retail's Male Gaze
The conception of Victoria’s Secret came after its founder Roy Raymond wandered into a department store in the late 1970s, looking for lingerie for his wife. But the selection was reportedly underwhelming and deeply unsexy. “I was faced with racks of terry-cloth robes and ugly floral-print nylon nightgowns,” Raymond told Newsweek in 1981. “I always had the feeling the department-store saleswomen thought I was an unwelcome intruder.”

He decided then to make a lingerie store for women, stocked with lingerie that appealed to him, and designed with men in mind. “Part of the game was to make it more comfortable to men,” he told Susan Faludi in her book Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. “I aimed it, I guess, at myself.” And he was especially careful to frame Victoria’s Secret’s wares, frilly, lacy, decidedly uncomfortable pieces of underwear for the average woman, as a means of empowerment for women. “The effect it had on the men was secondary,” he said. “It allowed us to sell these garments without seeming sexist.”

When Leslie Wexner, yet another man, picked up the brand in 1982 for L Brands, it was nearing bankruptcy. But he had a solution: he really thought more women in his life should be wearing more lingerie. “Most of the women that I knew wore underwear most of the time, and most of the women that I knew I thought would rather wear lingerie most of the time, but there were no lingerie stores,” he told Newsweek. The store expanded, but a large part of that expansion was designed to reach men nearly as much as it was to reach more women.

Wexner redesigned and glamorized Victoria’s Secret catalog, casting supermodels, remaking it as an almost softcore magazine with a cult audience of its own. In 1999 the brand placed an ad for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show pointedly during the Super Bowl. “The Broncos won’t be there, the Falcons won’t be there, you won’t care,” the commercial teased, before highlighting the breasts of models walking down the catwalk. It couldn’t have been clearer that Victoria’s Secret was catering to the gaze of straight men.

...Victoria’s Secret may have sold customers the fantasy that they too could look as sexy as the models, but the men designing these brands knew differently. The men behind Victoria’s Secret vocally built their entire businesses around the idea that only certain people belonged in their stores. It’s no surprise that Victoria’s Secret and similar brands are now flailing; neither their image nor their clothing reflects the bodies or desires of their customers, but relied instead on base fantasy and the spending power of the male gaze; its own limited ideas of what female sexuality could and should look like. They may be stores that sell to women, but they are built for the pleasure of men.
lingerie  Victoria's-Secret  male-gaze  American-Apparel  bras 
november 2018 by thegrandnarrative
Study: The Warning Signs for Relationship Infidelity
The researchers began by following 113 newlywed, heterosexual couples over three and a half years, testing for two psychological responses: disengagement, or the instinct to look away from an attractive person; and devaluation, which is the impulse to downgrade the perceived attractiveness of romantic alternatives. They found that the faster the participant looked away and the more negatively they viewed any romantic alternatives, the more likely they were to avoid infidelity and have a successful marriage. Not letting yourself want what you can’t have, it turns out, is a pretty effective strategy.

While disengagement and devaluation seem like intrinsic, knee-jerk reactions, that’s not exactly the case — and claiming that it’s out of your control is exactly the cop-out it sounds like. “Whether we’re talking about infidelity or other areas of conflict, people don’t realize that instead of reacting, they can take a moment to choose the response,” says Tara Fields, psychotherapist and author of The Love Fix. “People do have control over their reactions and their reactivity.”

In fact, it’s just like any other bad habit, according to Fields: To control it, you have to consider why, exactly, you’re prone to it in the first place. Oftentimes these impulses are environmental; for instance, the participant picked it up from a family member, or saw friends doing it. “Once you look at the behavior and deem it negative, you can then look at the payoff,” explains Fields. “How does it serve you? How does it make you feel?” Even just identifying it helps. After all, the perennial first step to anything is awareness.

Next, the researchers tracked 120 different newlywed couples over the course of three and a half years, and found additional — and equally important — factors that predict infidelity within a relationship. These include being younger, a history of short-term sexual partners, and, weirdly, a satisfying sex life. This last point seems counterintuitive, but the researchers surmised that if a person has a more positive attitude about sex in general, they may be more likely to seek it out with people besides their own partner.

In this case, it does seem like there’s only so much you can do about these predictors — and that’s very little. After all, it’s not possible to go back and change the number of sexual partners you’ve had. And even if a good sex life is a predictor of infidelity, how (and, really, why) would you try to change that?

But according to Fields, avoiding infidelity is primarily a matter of both being aware and keeping your partner in the loop. For example, “if you’re younger, you may be more ambivalent about making a commitment in a monogamous relationship,” she says. “It’s fine as long as you tell your partner.” (This doesn’t fly as an excuse after the fact, she warns. You can’t confess that you’ve cheated and then explain that you felt vulnerable.)

In other words, the predictors identified in this study are far from set-in-stone prophecies, and a policy of total transparency is a sound way to sidestep them. It’s also an indication that I should probably take my boyfriend’s confession as a good sign, especially when the alternative feels a lot like gaslighting: “You’re convincing your partner who’s catching onto things that they’re crazy,” explains Fields. Once that unravels — which it likely will — it’s difficult to recover that trust. Consider it this way: It’s much easier to preserve trust in a relationship than re-create it from scratch.
infidelity  sexual-relationships  adultery  couples  male-gaze 
april 2018 by thegrandnarrative
In defense of lusty movie reviews.
We trust that other physical responses, like tears and nausea, are trying to tell us something about what we just saw. Our libidos are too.
By Willa Paskin

Last week, New York magazine’s David Edelstein published a review of Wonder Woman that was written through the fog of his own libido. Blithely unbothered by the irony of objectifying star Gal Gadot in the context of the first (maybe) feminist superhero movie, Edelstein described her as a “superbabe in the woods.” He lamented that the movie did not explore the series’ S&M subtext. He categorized Israeli women as a “breed unto themselves, which I say with both admiration and trepidation.” He used other hepped-up language to communicate that while he was not excited by Wonder Woman, he was really excited by Gal Gadot. Edelstein’s review was widely excoriated for being sexist and misogynist. The review certainly could and should have done its readers the favor of more artfully disguising the status of its writer’s nether regions, but that doesn’t mean boners have no place in criticism. Let’s not throw lust out with the lecherous bath water.

Desire, erotics, aesthetics: These are all an intrinsic part of watching anything. They are also far more elegant terms than the crass boner and the gagtastic lady boner, so I’ll be using them from now on. I don’t need to be coarse. Actors are, among other things, their bodies and faces. Being extremely beautiful is a requirement for famous women and a desirable attribute for famous men. Looks, legs, breasts, pecs are a part of most Hollywood actors’ professional skillsets, and we know this because they do. They work on their bodies like ... their bodies are work. The loveliness of watching perfectly formed humans is one of the foundational pleasures of movie-watching and, particularly, middling movie-watching.

It is true, and infuriating, that straight, white, male libidos have been judging cinema and television and the other visual arts for most of history, finding women and reducing them to objects, to just another pretty face (or superbabe in the woods). One of the effects of older white men being the people most comfortable publicly voicing their desire is that desire itself has come to seem boring, predictable, gross, insensitive. Edelstein loved the part of Wonder Woman where she stripped down to her corset? Get outta here! He cared more about that than her status as a maybe–or–maybe not feminist icon? Who could have guessed!

But desire isn’t boring! It’s propulsive. We trust that other physical responses, like tears and nausea, are trying to tell us something about what we just saw. So is lust. Critics, who seek to explain and comprehend their intrinsic responses, don’t often say, by way of convincing readers to watch something, “Timothy Olyphant’s tush!” But I’ve sent that text to a friend, where it was more actionable than the thousands of other words I’ve written in praise of Justified.

Our squeamishness about identifying “eye candy” as a legitimate aspect of entertainment feels especially limiting in the context of the superhero film, which is built on straining biceps and heaving bosoms and other pleasure points in our lizard brains, including ones we feel far more comfortable talking about—like the thrill of violence, the comfort of repetition, the idiotic fascination with things that go boom. Contemporary superhero movies tend to make a big show of being winky and self-aware about their sexiness, but perfect physiques are required. (“How X Movie Star Got Super-Ripped to Play Random Super Guy” is a tabloid staple.) Thor is full of funny examples of shameless beefcakery, and Wonder Woman makes plenty of jokes about how Gal Gadot is hot as a way to inoculate itself against charges of sexism, but she still fights evil in a shimmering metal bra. What these superheroes look like isn’t some tangential aspect of the movies they appear in; it’s the selling point.

And it’s not just the selling point for some faceless, nameless, ignorant heavy breathers out there, though it would be much simpler if this were so. The audience isn’t divided into cavemen who watch movies for the sole purpose of objectifying hot people and the more enlightened among us, who know to privilege other aspects of the cinema. But progressive-minded writers have become so uncomfortable talking about physicality that nearly the only way we discuss it is when it is framed as an injustice, a misogynist boondoggle—the beautiful woman who was forced to get horrendous plastic surgery by the Hollywood machine, the gorgeous woman stuck with the dweeby guy but never the other way around—as opposed to when it’s merely a turn on.

One effect of this body squeamishness is that we’re not writing as much about acting as we used to. Acting is so tied up in physicality, in beauty, a slouch, a smile, a bicep, a gam—and that is a very fraught thing for critics to analyze on the internet in 2017. Directing, writing, ideas: We’re good on that. But when we assess movie performances, we tend to focus euphemistically on the actors’ naturalness or charisma even when the physicality, that smile or that bicep, is what stays with us. It’s not a surprise that the writers who feel most comfortable loudly exclaiming their desire, no matter how squicky, are the same demographic that feels most comfortable doing everything else. Here’s to critics of all genders and orientations letting our own libidos write so freely.
movie-reviews  wonder-woman  male-gaze  female-gaze  writing 
june 2017 by thegrandnarrative
This is desire: Torres, Marika Hackman and the artists redefining the female gaze | Music | The Guardian
At last year’s Toronto film festival, Transparent and I Love Dick writer-director Jill Soloway offered their personal definition of the female gaze. This didn’t mean inverting the male gaze – ie letting women ogle men – but reinventing patriarchal techniques and returning that gaze provocatively. In the past 12 months, such an approach has reshaped TV in The Handmaid’s Tale, Insecure and Fleabag, and notably it’s been redefining music vids, too.

In the clip for Torres’s new single Skim, the guitarist is fondled by a faceless woman; in another scene, Torres (AKA Mackenzie Scott) plays her naked leg like a guitar. Both images are commanding, bizarre and strangely sexy. She says she’s bored by the idea that women should “communicate in either wounded anguish or serve up their art with a wink and a smile”.
female-gaze  male-gaze 
june 2017 by thegrandnarrative
After Mastectomies, an Unexpected Blow: Numb New Breasts
The main problem is using the word “feel,” said Dr. Clara Lee, an associate professor of plastic surgery at Ohio State University who does reconstructive breast surgery. Surgeons who use a woman’s own tissue to recreate a breast might tell the patient that it will “feel” like a natural breast, referring to how it feels to someone else, not the woman.

“We don’t always mean what’s important to the patient,” Dr. Lee said.

“Our focus has been on what women look like,” said Dr. Andrea L. Pusic, a plastic surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center who specializes in breast reconstruction and studies patients’ quality of life after breast surgery. “What it feels like to the woman has been a kind of blind spot in breast surgery. That’s the next frontier.”

The focus on how breasts look and feel to other people, rather than how they feel to the patient, speaks to the fact that women are still largely judged by their appearance, said Victoria Pitts-Taylor, a professor and the head of feminist, gender and sexuality studies at Wesleyan University.
masectomies  breasts  breast-cancer  male-gaze 
january 2017 by thegrandnarrative

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