Feminine gaze and male idolatry

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Title: Feminine gaze and male idolatry
Creator: mayoihumbert
Date(s): Jan. 26th, 2005
Medium:
Fandom:
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External Links: Feminine gaze and male idolatry, Archived version
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Feminine gaze and male idolatry is a meta essay on the female gaze and slashers written by mayoihumbert in January 2005.

It was linked to by metafandom.

For additional context, see Timeline of Slash Meta and Slash Meta.

Excerpts

"When I first got into slash-crit, I was pleased to realize (by using crit-tools) that for me, slash made it ok for me to look at myself as a sexual object.....The beginning of my interest in slash-crit coincided with the beginning of my interest in fitness, and suddenly I *got* male bodies, muscles, pecs, abs, *ass*. (I'd finally reached meaning of the Holy Ass! and bad puns threaten. eep.) And more important in many ways, I got my own body, muscles, breasts, belly, ass. After all, if slash made it ok for men's bodies to be looked at in pleasure and in lust, made their bodies sites where women could let their imaginations play, wouldn't it be ok for us women to finally be able to look at our own bodies that way, and to allow men to look at us that way?"
"That's how it worked for me because my thinking tends toward symmetry, but I'm slowly coming to the realization that it's not the same for some female slashers. (I don't *get* mainstream girls, I tell ya.) While slash enabled me to put myself into the equation by mirroring my desire, I think it may only be a one-way street for some women: it's displacement instead of reflection. I think for some women, slash allows them to absent themselves from the equation: the burden of the omnipresent, omnipotent patriarchal gaze is lifted from them; their bodies cease to exist; their gaze displaces male power. But what's the nature of that female gaze? Is it merely fantasy--a space to play without reprecussion and without the burdens of objectification? Or revenge--an eye for an eye as it were, a way for women to appropriate power through the appropriation of men's bodies? Or is it idolatry? Certainly, I see troubling signs of that last in fandom, though I don't think it's necessary to pick one or even one at a time."
"Weird to me, though I don't think untrue, is that it is possible for the female gaze to love the male and hate the female. Is it because the female when looking at other females merely replicates the patriarchal gaze that requires perfection and always finds females wanting? Or is it because the gazer is jealous of the female object for having a voice she herself does not and seeks to take away the other's power by shifting to a male object?"

Reactions

"I'm a straight woman who finds men sexy, therefore I write about sexy men. I don't find women sexy, therefore I don't write about them. I don't see the problem."
I think that women can *of course* be sexist towards other women. We are as much products of our own culture as men are. Indeed, women are frequently their own worst enemies.

I know there is slash out there in which the woman (if there is one) is hated because she's drawn as hateful. There may be some misogyny behind it, or it may be simply to provide an excuse for the male characters to get together. ('My wife doesn't understand me.' 'Oh well she doesn't deserve you either, lets have sex.') In which case it's just a plot device.

There's also a lot of slash out there in which mens bodies are used, but the author is unable to depict the men acting or thinking in an adult male way - they become weepy and childish. I usually put this down to bad writing and an immature writer who is unable to get into the head of anyone other than themselves."