I Choose Myself and My Womanhood Over Male Acceptance and the Male Gaze

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash
Hey y'all, I know it's been a while since I gave y'all a blog-blog. Life has been hella busy! Anywho, I wanted to discuss this topic based off the growth I've been experiencing regarding my journey into young womanhood. I'm loving this shit!

A while ago, I was getting ready to go out a random thought popped in my head. The thought went along the lines of "Wow, it's so freeing to not to try to look cute for men." Now, don't get me wrong, when I dress up I dress for myself and wear what I like and I always have. However, while growing up, in the back of my head, thoughts of being physically acceptable for the opposite sex did run through my brain.

This thought isn't exclusive to my experience. Many girls and women have and continue to experience this because society has brainwashed us into thinking that male acceptance is golden. Similarly boys and men have been taught that the amount of girls and women they can bag and sleep with equates to their worth and self esteem. Our Western society is patriarchal and male dominated (although there are struggles men face as well, especially Black men).

The standards of beauty from fashion to makeup were created by men, and men still dominate leadership roles in both industries. (beauty industry | fashion industry) Even within the Black American community where men face racial injustices, male gaze still effects how Black women and viewed, treated, and respond towards the so called necessity of male acceptance. Although many may argue that beauty standards are shallow examples of women dealing with male cosigns, beauty standards effect the way both men and women socialize with another.

Image result for feminist gif

While I was growing up, people would always applaud me for being unapologetically myself. I was and continue to be, but that didn't stop thoughts of needing to impress guys from creeping into my head. Now let's be clear. It's perfectly normal to want and like the attention of the opposite sex, especially when you're a teenager, but I do think girls and women are directly and indirectly taught to go out their way to be available, accessible, and presentable for boys and men at all times. It's so prevalent that men have also been taught directly and indirectly that they are entitled to our bodies, time, and space (examples ranging from high statistics of sexual harassment towards women to sexist messages we're sent via pop culture).

In feminist theory, the term "male gaze" coined by Laura Mulvey in 1975 describes the lens white, heterosexual men view the world through, especially concerning the sexualization of women. Although the term was traditionally used in cinematic spaces since it was used to describe the way women are filmed in movies, in more recent times it's being used describing how women are viewed and sexualized even from non-white men.

Going beyond physical appearance, the male gaze and yearning for male acceptance even effects how some of us act and carry ourselves. Think about some of the comments some of our mothers and grandmothers made to us about "getting and keeping a man":

"A way to a man's heart is through his stomach."

"Men love women who aren't too opinionated."

"Fix your man's plate or another woman will."

"Act right so you'll get married by age 25."

"Men don't like women who curse."

Image result for eye roll gif

See what I mean about Western society teaching that the existence of women being contingent to appeasing the menfolk?

Image result for no thanks gif

This isn't to erase or ignore the fact that boys and men are also given problematic pieces of advice in regards to relationships and socializing with girls and women (because they definitely are), but with the messages we're sent coupled in with the ever changing beauty standards, misogyny, sexism, and racism for Black women and non-White POC, it's extremely exhausting. 

Growing into my womanhood and learning from my experiences with men has brought me even closer to myself. It's granted me the understanding to have autonomy over myself in a society telling me that as a Black woman I don't have any ownership over who I am. As I stated before, there's nothing wrong with looking good and gaining the attention of guys, but it's freeing when you're not consciously concerned about how many men will hit on you, if your ass looks big enough, if you're wearing too much makeup since many men claim they don't care for makeup (while ironically lusting over women who wear it). It's perfectly fine if you want to perform certain tasks that may appease men, but it shouldn't stay at gaining their interest.

I choose myself and my womanhood over male acceptance and their gaze. Especially with the misogyny and sexism that is oh so rampant? I'm definitely good on that and I can't wait until the day people start addressing both issues the same way they're so eager to police women and every little thing we do.

Sure some things us women do may stem from living in a patriarchal society, but as long as we're doing it for our own validation first and foremost, that's what matters the most. We're not here to be accessories for men nor to satisfy them. I hope we continue to teach the next generation of girls and women coming up that it's fine to have a healthy balance of appreciating attention from guys, but more so liking yourself and doing things for yourself.

Follow me on social media!: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Drocast | Donate to TKS



Post a Comment