The Male Gaze
The male gaze. A term used by feminists to protest what they see as a dangerous imposition on women's daily lives. The looks and comments women receive are evidence of the "toxic masculinity" women are subjected to, so the claims go. Most men see the feminist statement "the male gaze" as an attack on men generally and respond negatively.
Some women are not comfortable with the concept either. "How can men approach us if they cannot even look at us?" is a sentiment that is expressed often in the wider debate. I see the issue as a failure to translate the feminist concern to male understanding.
The issue boils down to this. When women talk of the "male gaze" they are using the expression to describe "hyper-vigilance". The recipient of something undesired generally focuses on the cause. This only tells half the story. What is missing is an overall understanding of the affect.
Human beings rarely understand the long term consequences of our actions as a species as the plastic bergs in our oceans and the rise of global temperatures clearly demonstrate.
For example. We all know people take plastic bags to the beach. We know that some of those bags will end up in that vast ocean and would certainly disapprove if we saw it happening in front of us.
Would we disapprove enough to demand the end to the use of one use plastic bags? Probably not. But when we see the examples of all that plastic floating in the sea in massive islands strangling sea life then it forces a change in view. Those islands are a result of millions of tiny little failings that go on to form part of an all encompassing negative consequence.
As it happens we see much the same happening here in the social dynamic between males and female in society. First let us strip everything back to the basics and look at the human female.
The female of today lives twice the normal life span of her ancestors and as a result maintains reproductive viability for much longer. Not many generations back a woman would be having children in her teens, a grandmother at around 30 and dead by 40.
That woman would have grown up in a small community with the males of her mating age and gone out of general circulation once she started having children with someone. Human reproductive instinct still operates on the premise that humans will generally live short lives stalked by accident and disease and on that basis as many children as possible are required for long term human survival.
Now we switch to the modern female and a whole different picture emerges. Like her female ancestors the modern female reaches the age of sexual maturity and is approached by various males. Obviously the female psyche is designed to deal with this. The excitement of something new and edgy bathed in the hormonal rush of youth.
The fear of missing out on the best partners. These things and more make male interest desirable and therefore females are generally able to be more tolerant of the downs that will naturally occur. The corrosive difference is that unlike her ancestors the modern woman does not get to just transition out of the baser reproductive dynamic but is rather trapped there by unceasing male sexual interest regardless of her circumstances.
If we look at the ocean of the modern woman's experiences and apply the plastic bag analogy the parallels become very evident. Few females of any species are psychologically designed to be subjected to unceasing sexual interest from their male counterparts but that is exactly what happens in these modern times and human females are not designed to withstand that.
A woman may be subjected to dozens if not hundreds of unwanted sexual advances or put downs weekly depending on how high her profile is. A woman of low profile will inevitably encounter dozens of unpleasant situation dating online, in her employment and in her travels.
Women who speak out with their opinions are often savagely attacked and targeted as women, for example being told they have "rancid vaginas" and they deserve to be gang raped. All this is seen by other women who take those experiences on as their own.
Thanks to the rise of the internet and the now the smartphone a woman can be stalked and harassed 24 hours a day and this does occur. Sexually suggestive / offensive comments, dick pics, revenge porn, up-skirting, hidden cameras in changing rooms and toilets and slut shaming are rife.
The internet adds the most lethal aspect of the plastic bag to the dynamic in that like the plastic bag those attacks never breakdown and die away of their own accord. They sit there online for all to see as a permanent record of all the online abuse that woman will experience thus ensuring the ongoing trauma is never resolved.
So all these attacks and abuse ends up congealing together in the ocean of women's experiences to form great islands of negative experiences both individual and shared. Add in the numerous articles of women being raped, beaten and murdered, generally by people close to them, and it should be of no surprise that these "toxic" islands should strip away any positive view of males leaving nothing but anti male sentiment.
It is clinical fact that a person who is subjected to constant unwanted attention of any kind suffers negative outcomes. In this case what I believe we are seeing here, is a female population trapped in a highly stressful dynamic where they feel deeply threatened but cannot escape.
This leads to the well recognized PTSD condition of hyper-vigilance. Hyper-vigilance is also contagious and women take on other women's experiences and feel them as their own. This allows empathy itself to become a liability where its application opens a gate for abuse inflicted on one woman to impact on the life experiences of another.
Global connectivity makes the problem incalculably worse. Where as once the worst excesses of humanity were confined and often limited in scope, we now have entire groups of "Incels" turning their inadequacies into hateful agendas and campaigns of misogyny.
It is in my view cold hard fact that the modern human female's sense of identity and physical integrity and safety have been undermined by a vast array of considerations in a society that has changed almost beyond recognition in the space of one generation.
It is also fact that males have been behaving pretty much along the same lines as the generations before us. But the world has changed. What we do as individuals comes together to form an ongoing corrosive dynamic that will only hinder male female relationships further.
These changes are not the responsibility of women to handle alone. We as men must also change. We must recognize that like a lot of things people once did, it was not so bad before everyone started doing it all the time. When a woman is subjected to unwanted sexual advances from men it is likely one of dozens of times she has experienced it. Sometimes even that week.
Until we address the issues as men and demonstrate tangible results the problem is very much ours to address. If we as men say "oh well that's too bad" then we are simply choosing to put our own issues and needs over the increasingly acute needs of 50% of the population.
If there is any man out there that thinks that can possibly lead to anything good then take a good hard look at the oceans.