Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Long Hair

I have forgotten what day it is on the schedule, and after peeking into the adjacent cells I must say that the drabness of my own self constructed space was a little disheartening. In any case, I wanted to focus on the article assigned by Laura Sullivan, concerning the male gaze on the web.

I have only recently become aware of the terminology of the male gaze, though the voyeuristic elements of patriarchy have been rather obvious. 'Cho also read me the Freire piece on internalized oppression recently, which also works well with the Sullivan article. Taken together this idea of the male gaze as a motivation for a commodified superficial focus on image where women bear the onus of performing femininity in a way that satisfies male parameters is uncomfortable.

There is a petrifying sense of positioning. One cannot act in a way that can be construed as 'rescuing' the 'damsel in distress', so moralistic outrage doesn't seem to fit. At the same time any behavior that is accepting of body image could be considered condescending. Perhaps it is due to my positioning as male that I am a bit lost on where to stand.

On hair I am a bit more familiar. Having long black locks of my own I feel as though I can share a bit of the sentiment of the author. Touching an NDN man's hair is an intimate thing, a personal thing. If that cultural concept was translated across 'code' I have been groped more times than an unripe cantaloupe at Winco.

I am not attempting to appropriate the space that Sullivan is recognizing on the commodification of the female image (or the replication of that situation by men or women), rather that fetishization is ubiquitous and disturbing in a multidimensional sense.

I tooled around the Net Chick Clubhouse as well. Perhaps it is due to my recent indoctrination through my first semesters of graduate school, but it didn't seem all that much like a site of resistance or even commercial space. More to the point of the article there was a lack of representation of 'female' beyond a sort of rubberstamped "Grrl"'ishness.

The larger lesson I see coming out of the article "Fleeting Images" is one of male privilege. While both genders are prey to concepts of professionalism, as a construct built primarily by men it places females in a disadvantaged space. Construction of identity is highly complex, so communicating that identity (or facets thereof) through any number of literacies is often a compromise between institutionally accepted practices and self expression.

I can protest the shallow ideals of collared shirts and khakis, but I don't have to concern myself overly with the erotic commodification of my image. To my way of thinking that is a solid demonstration of male privilege.


1 comment:

kristin said...

Thanks for the laughs on this one: "Touching an NDN man's hair is an intimate thing, a personal thing. If that cultural concept was translated across 'code' I have been groped more times than an unripe cantaloupe at Winco."

Ok, the laughs don't come from the fact that you've been fetishized, but the analogy is is brilliant. I needed a laugh, thanks.

And more to the point, the above quote signals your claim that, "fetishization is ubiquitous and disturbing in a multidimensional sense." Absolutely. It plays in so many different ways and with different effects, but in all cases is serves to objectify, classify, and box people into a certain way of being and existing. For those not on the 'power' end of things, this is particularly problematic.