The female gaze


Mary Gaffney 

Fashion Columnist 

With fashion, media and consumption, there is something that has been pushed on women known as the male gaze. You, my dear reader, have definitely been a consumer of the male gaze at one point of your life or another. You have also probably been buying your clothes with the mindset of the male gaze. Fashion can feel like being a male peacock, trying to show off as much as you can for the opposite sex or gender, if you are bisexual or straight.  

This is something that I have grown up with dealing a lot as a young straight woman. I would look for clothes that I thought that men would find attractive, but not what I would think would make me feel comfortable or my best in. This is when I discovered the female gaze and my closet has changed.  

When talking about this subject, we have to discuss what the male gaze is and how we have all seen it or taken part of it. The male gaze is viewing women as a sexual object, viewing women as something that men can fantasize about rather than someone who has sexual desires and their own fantasies. The male gaze dehumanizes women while the female gaze is giving people humanity.  

This is why women in any Adam Sandler movie are just a sexy body with very little thought or meaning. Those women were written through the male gaze. The female gaze gives people a reality, like Mr. Darcy. It gives a man who is seen as socially awkward and introverted as a romantic man who has his own hopes and desires.  

This can do the same in fashion. Fashion through the male gaze turns women in objects while fashion through the female gaze turns women into art. When you wake up in the morning, you don’t have to get worried about being overtly sexualized. All you have to do is put on something that you think is stylish and wear it without subscribing to being seen as an object. 

Picking out your outfit for the day can mean a lot to me, especially if I am feeling inspired to look my best and not throw on a crop top with my biker shorts. I used to try to find what makes me feel hot and desirable, as gross as that sounds now. Rather than wearing what I want to wear, I was dressing up for strangers to find me beautiful. 

I don’t have any steps on how to dress the way you want, or how to stop dressing for the male gaze because I still have days where I want to be desirable. Putting this discussion out there seems like a big enough step to me, letting my readers know that dressing for yourself is always better than dressing for others. The female gaze has allowed me to start viewing myself as art that has depth, a walking reality, rather than an object that others can use.