By Meera Narendra.

I post a picture and I get sexualised, objectified and bombarded with stupid messages from men…and honestly, word to Megan Thee Stallion, “I’m sick of motherfuckers tryna tell me how to live.

Even in 2021, women are still expected to dress and act a certain way, and expected to conform to the needs, desires and beauty standards for male consumption. It is this use of the ‘male gaze’, across all media and literature, that perpetuates the notion that our bodies exist for them, and thus reaffirming the power of the patriarchy to use ‘women as props in service’ for the heterosexual male narrative. But what exactly is the ‘male gaze?’

Coined by scholar and filmmaker Laura Mulvey, the term male gaze refers to the portrayal of women visually positioned as an “object” of heterosexual male desire whilst their feelings, opinions and sexual drives are denied.

Although Mulvey’s theory applies to film, the male gaze can be observed in all mediums leaving devastating consequences whereby both women and young girls learn that their appearance is social currency, subsequently placing more attention and value on their appearance. This in turn becomes an important aspect to the reasons behind sexual harassment and sexual violence against women.

Not only does the male gaze objectify women, it keeps ownership of female sexuality by stating that the only acceptable time to be sexual is when we are sexualised by men. If we are not deemed desirable according to the male gaze because we do not adhere to the heterosexual male desire, we simply cannot be sexual. And to that I say Fuck You. Women should be able wear what they want, act how they feel, say what they think, and post what they want – all for their own self liberation and sexual expression, and not for the pleasure of men.

To dismantle the male gaze it is important that we empower body positivity, celebrate all women, and ignite conversations surrounding the topic.

Our sexuality, sexual choices, sexual expression and sexual experiences shape who we are. Being sexual allows women to be empowered, assert their right to physical autonomy, create their own narrative, all whilst discarding the shame stigma. So again I say “Fuck bein’ good, I’m a bad bitch. I’m sick of motherfuckers tryna tell me how to live.”