Serving the male gaze

A woman is supposed to be seen, gazed upon, and the seer that matters the most , is a man. She fits the standards of aesthetic that appeals to a man. She is a woman, and she is written by a man. She moves carefreely, with the playfulness of a child and sensuality of a woman. She is supposed to be looked at, and that’s her value. She is a fantasy, a male fantasy. She exists, only to be seen and admired by him.

She is a representation of his fantasy, and he finds her in every woman. And when there is  demand, there has to be supply, hence she was and is constructed by many of us. Many of us, have created a version of her, that exists only to serve that male gaze, stare almost. I don’t know how many of us would accept it, I definitely am hesitant and was bit ashamed to accept that there is a version of her in me. Because how could I give in to this singular version of a woman that is accepted as ‘the woman” by a man.

Vygotsky’s theory of social development in social relationships, proposed that children develop on the basis of social interaction. He suggested that we are born with four elementary mental function, attention, sensation, perception and memory.  Our social and cultural environment allows us to use these elementary functions to develop higher cognitive functions. The zone of proximal development happens when we are helped by others. If we assume a community where boys are expected to learn and succedd while girls are expected to be pretty and mainly to be aesthetically appealing.
Both are in zone of proximal development to walk, yet the boy is provided with opportunities to practice and develop in a playroom, he is encouraged to use and explore the equipments and eventually learn to stand and walk by using those equipments. The girl also has the potential to walk but does not receive any support or encouragement to learn and explore the playroom, she is not expected by her environment to, instead she is encouraged to be looked at and encouraged to understand her role to be pretty.

Vygotsky also suggested that, Inner speech develops from external speech, by gradual process of internalization. Thought itself is developed by conversation. This would mean that the internalization of the normalization to be looked at by others, mainly the main character, a male, a patriarch, by a woman can be tracked back to a kind of outer speech and narrative, she was exposed to, at a younger age.

This theory does give the answer to my why,  yet leaves me unsettled by the manifestation of that internalization by me and by so many other women, girls.

It is unsettling because, it reduces a woman to her body parts, to an object, to a possession, an inferior secondary character, who is acceptable, as long as she is appealing to the male gaze, as long as she acts as if her purpose is to be looked at, as long as she is passively pleasing and fits the parameter of beauty set by him, as long as she is serving his gaze.

Mirror, Mirror in the Lake…

In the worlds and words of Myths,

A story of love still holds;

The Greek Myth of Echo who loved Narcissus,

But Narcissus who fell in love with himself.

Its been said that they both were cursed,

Echo could only repeat the words she heard,

It was a retribution for her lies and deceits,

And Narcissus got a taste of his own medicine.

People who loved him were never good enough for him;

One day he saw his reflection in a lake,

And got enamored of his own image ;

After breaking too many hearts, Narcissus fell in love with himself.

As often as it does, it turned into an agony,

Just like those who loved him, he could never reach and touch his reflection;

His love too was incomplete.

It was a Poetic Justice crafted by Nemesis, The Goddess of Vengeance,

Reap what You Sow,

She saw to it.


In Ancient Greek Mythology, looking at one’s reflection for too long was considered a bad omen (It does make sense as it makes you more vain).

In the next part,

Let us see what is means now to look at our own reflections, Shall we?


May the best man win, and the best woman be the prize

To be dragged into the muddied water of sensual policies,

May the best man win,

and the best woman be the prize.

Ugly world of the pretties,

He will be the one to look,

and she will be the object of his sight.

Don’t you feel repulsed by these normative,

Don’t you feel, you were asked to choose between the moulds,

but there was no choice, to choose or not.

To be dragged into the muddied water of sensual policies,

May the best man win,

and the best woman be the prize.

Boring and mediocre are your celebrations,

She brings the womb, and he brings his name bearer

You talk about evolution, but have you?

Giving into the overused, lackluster narrative,

Is it the lack of courage or the immense self loathing?

To be dragged into the muddied water of sensual policies,

May the best man win,

and the best woman be the prize.

(No)where to go, (Now)here to be

Muddied water sits still, after a while,

The sky clears, after the storm settles.

A pounding heart catches itself, after few breaths,

When there is (no)where to go, (now)here might be your best bet.

“Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional”,

Pain is an innate part of life, as goes the Buddhist saying.

I heard recently, suffering is pain multiplied by resistance,

Even the stoics say, ‘Amor Fati’, and they welcome their fate.

There might be an urge to fast forward, to the happier moments,

but have you met a person, appreciating their blessings, when they cannot appreciate their lessons?

Its true, one cannot see the light, if they haven’t been in their own darkness,

When there is (no)where to go, (now)here can be your best bet.

Do not wrong yourself by abandoning yourself, when the grief and sorrow strikes,

There are too many answers, in the very moment, you despise,

There are keys found, to the doors right.

Who deserves your patience and love, more than yourself,

What in the world, needs more attention and care, than your wounded self,

When there is (no)where to go, (now)here is your best bet.

(Some)-body

“Will you still love me, when I am no longer, Young and Beautiful,

Will you still love me, when I have got nothing, But my aching soul.”

I know you won’t, I know you won’t, I know you won’t.

Half a decade ago, I would have singed along with the actual lyrics,

but my illusions were shattered.

And I am glad, they were.

I was shown, my replaceability, because I was only perceived as some-body

Their fetishes and fantasies were projected on that body,

but it meant, the body was, means to an end.

A house is replaced, once you want the one, with a skyline,

A car is second-handed, for a status up lifter,

A phone becomes obsolete, every September.

A (some)-body becomes, out of trend every season,

A (some)-body has a best-before age,

Welcome to the harrowing dark ages.

Here, you are not a person with your complexities, contradictions, inner rich worlds, filled with dreams, desperations, passions, love, longings and visions,

Here, you are not someone’s daughter, son, or friend,

Here, you are not someone who struggles every day and yet survives,

Here, you are not the survivor, who battled many fights.

Here, you are not a person, a human being,

Here, you are just some-body, (some)-body, a body.

A Witch

She was a girl, just a girl,

who wanted to be loved

that was her only longing.

She was in lack,

of love, of warmth,

She ached for it.

She encountered many,

and always hoped for that ‘dream come true’.

Does not work like that, does it?

Desperation and longing

can turn a sane person mad,

and that’s what became her,

after too many gambles.

Longing for love and affection,

affection and love.

Wondering, why it did not work with others?

Simply, they were not the one,

but the one, was her.

Herself, was her answer.

Many stabs, bullets and stakes later,

did she realize, that it was her, she was looking for.

The messy journey to herself, became her, then most dreaded and now most favorite.

She looked at nothing and no-one in the same way, the girl did.

She scaled everyone, never did the girl

She slammed the door when necessary, the girl never dared

She cared more for her soul, than to play nice, the girl never had a choice but nice.

The girl journeyed far, to become more than a girl,

She burned through the flames undeserved,

and that’s how, she became a witch.

Procrastinate much?

It is irrational, that anyone would do, what will harm them, right?

“Procrastination is the act of delaying or putting off tasks until the last minute, or past their deadline.” (Verywellmind.com)

Why do we do it? And don’t worry, we all do it. And No its not “laziness”, as laziness is an unwillingness to act, while procrastination is wanting to act, knowing how important it is to act, and still or maybe due to that, not being able to act.

A recent Ted-Ed video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWTNMzK9vG4&t=2s discussed, that procrastination is the result of our body trying to protect ourselves, by avoiding tasks, we see as threatening.

But how can be a task, that is good for us in long term, be threatening?

It turns out, that we procrastinate tasks that induce negative feelings. These negative feelings can be dread, insecurity, incompetence, doubt, fear etc. When we associate these negative feelings to a task, we are more likely to avoid that task, to protect ourselves, from that negative feeling we have linked to that task. But unfortunately, by avoiding the task, negative feelings are caused anyway, as now, its in the form of guilt and shame, for not doing the task.

When there is a perceived threat, the amygdala, that processes our emotions, and identify threats, releases stress hormones like adrenaline, and triggers a fear response. This stress induced anxiety, dominates the signal from our pre-frontal cortex (Pre-frontal cortex help us think long term and helps regulate emotions). Hence, to get over this fear response, we avoid the task and do a seemingly less threatening task instead.

Procrastination is found to be more prevalent in individuals with low self esteem and those who have difficulty regulating emotions. And Procrastination can lead to anxiety, depression, shame, stress and even physical ailments.

Is there a better way?

Maybe

Go do your own research, I am not gonna spoon feed you :p

I don’t know, what would work for you, but for me, I can tell.

  1. Only have things in your life, you would want to work on. Eg. I have an Engineering degree but cannot imagine myself working it that field (yet), so if I give myself task, of say finding a job in that field and then doing that job, for the rest of my life, till I get the sweet release of death. No Thanks.
  2. However, I want to pursue career in Counselling and Psychology, so I chose to study along with doing a job, and trust me, its challenging, but I still do my assignments happily(mostly), because, I want to work in that field, I am curious about the subject, so what’s to dread about the assignments?
  3. I work, and when I started as an Environmental scientist, I had no clue on how things work, but, breaking the task down helps. If you know, even the first step, do it, the second step will be easier to do, because now you have evidence that you could do the first step, second shouldn’t be that hard. And when I don’t know even the first step, I ask someone for help or usually google it đŸ˜€

These days, I tell myself, that if I do, what needs to be done, now or as soon as possible, there would be one less thing for my future self, and one more chance for her to do something else she likes. Its a self love thing, its a love letter to her, from old me.

Curiosity Vs Dread Learning Vs Incompetence Self love and Compassion Vs Insecurity

These are the common reasons, why we procrastinate https://www.verywellmind.com/the-psychology-of-procrastination-2795944:

  • Not knowing what needs to be done
  • Not knowing how to do something
  • Not wanting to do something
  • Not caring if it gets done or not
  • Not caring when something gets done
  • Not feeling in the mood to do it
  • Being in the habit of waiting until the last minute
  • Believing that you work better under pressure
  • Thinking that you can finish it at the last minute
  • Lacking the initiative to get started
  • Forgetting
  • Blaming sickness or poor health
  • Waiting for the right moment
  • Needing time to think about the task
  • Delaying one task in favor of working on another

“The great decisions of human life have, as a rule, far more to do with instincts and other unconscious factors than with conscious will or well-meaning reasonableness.” Carl Jung

Understanding why we see something as threatening can save us, our time and sanity. Either something can be good for us, or not. And if something is good for us, then we need to inspect, why we are standing in our own way?

Further Resource:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOqZib0w_0M&list=PLsz9wYFsulZgv6xgwPz-dXIlZEwTw04Qy&index=12

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym6CRpACT1s&list=PLsz9wYFsulZgv6xgwPz-dXIlZEwTw04Qy&index=2

This one is not going to be pretty

I believe myself, to have no appetite for ‘tacky’,
Yet, I find them, slipping their way into my life.


I think, it is saying more about myself,
When wanting one thing, but accepting complete opposite.
I do not intend, to shame myself or others, in such positions,
But I ache, with a curiosity to understand, why I or someone, would do it.


Often, realizing myself, adjusting my liking,
Is it ‘people pleasing’ or  rejection of my own self.


Being assertive has never been easy,
And too often, I have crushed mine, in finding other’s humanity.


Every ‘tacky’ has some potential, and is a still ‘forming’ human being,
Yet, honouring that, does not mean,
I am suppose to, betray my own needs.


Every ‘tacky’ has a responsibility of themselves and their own growth.
However, I am not here, to realize their potential,
But to reach my own.


It might be brutal, Yes
But I feel, I might just fully embrace,

my ‘arrogance’ and ‘snobbishness’ ; )

DO NOT hold the door

I let you in,
And I kept the door open.
At first, it was by choice,
but later on, it became a default
It was out of compulsion
It became something I could not/would not control.

The helplessness of the situation became too unbearable,
And I made myself believe, that it was my choice.
I gave reasons, justifications, to why, I kept the door open.

Behind the scenes, I was working on building my strength again, I was working on remembering myself.

I did close the door partially, but with a hope, that closing it a little would make a statement, but keeping it open meant, the chance of amendments.

Back of mind, I could realize the absurdity of my logic, of my hopeless hopefulness.
And nothing I was doing, was giving me any relief, and my very hope was smothering me.

Fortunately, the work behind the scenes showed its result,
And in a snatch of a moment,
I closed the door shut.

Was it to make a statement?
Perhaps

Was it to punish you?
No

It is not a punishment to you, but the reinforcement, I considered myself too afraid of;
And turns out, the very thing I was afraid to do, was the thing I needed to.

The Frog and the Scorpion

I have heard and internalized this concept that when you do not learn from the past, you repeat it. When you do not learn the lesson, you are presented the same lesson again, until its learned.

What I struggled with and many of us do, is , we do not understand what were the lessons behind such hurtful and self altering experiences. What was the meaning behind it? What is it, that we are suppose to learn from these abusive, harmful and plain cruel experiences, which un/interestingly repeats themselves. The situations and people reappear again and again in our lives, at different times, as different names, but representing a single thing, reconfiguring themselves as the symbol of that first experience, which started it all.

“Repetition Compulsion or trauma re-enactment involves unconsciously recreating early trauma. Someone experiencing this compulsion repeats emotionally or physically painful situations.

Trauma can include any experience where you feel overwhelmed with hopelessness or fear. You might want to repeat how things used to be in your life, even when it was detrimental to your well-being.”

“Repeating past trauma might occur because you subconsciously want to fix what happened. You may, without even realizing it, hope that by recreating your trauma, you can find closure and fix what happened in the past.”

Some experts indicate that repetition compulsion might not have a purpose. Instead, you might repeat trauma because it’s what you know, even if it’s not a good situation. It can also be a method of linking the past to the present.

Source: https://psychcentral.com/blog/repetition-compulsion-why-do-we-repeat-the-past

When something happens for long enough, it becomes the new normal, and us humans have tendency to recreate that normal again and again because even if detrimental, its comfortable, it a negative comfort zone.

We might also recreate it, because we want to correct it, fix it, maybe find justice, this time; even if we could not earlier. We even want closure.

We want to pass the exam, as if it was an exam, going through that trauma, as if, we could have had a solution to avoid that traumatic experience, or we could have done something differently to not have experienced it. As if being abused the first time is a choice.

The thing is that us humans, always want to find meaning behind everything, and its a good mechanism, mostly, to exist and live. We also think that, if we are good enough this time, we will not be abused. We might get a different outcome this time, even if the player and the situation is the same. We think we might “change” the player with our goodness or some other virtue.

Sometimes we find other ways to repeat the past, by victimizing others, as a way to reverse the roles, Eg. Bullied people becoming the bullies.

The only thing we might need is the acceptance that we cannot rewrite the past, but we can break the cycle of the repetition. It is definitely easier said than done, trust me, I know first hand.

And that’s why I am attaching some links that might help to overcome the Repetition Compulsion. Few of the ways are as follows:

1) Become more aware of the relationship patterns in your family of origin.

2) Reflect on your own behavior

3) Heal the underlying trauma wounds

4) Learn and practice new skills

5) Be kind to yourself

Source: https://www.livewellwithsharonmartin.com/we-repeat-what-we-dont-repair/

Since we experienced the trauma, we have been carrying, the burden of someone else’s haphazard actions and behaviors that caused us trauma, and why would we want carry it anymore further. It was their’s all along, drop it.

“Sometimes you must accept that some people are not going to change no matter what you do. People who cause trauma will likely need professional help and this is not something you should carry as a burden for yourself. You cannot be expected to help someone who is abusive.”

Drop that scorpion off your back

Resources:

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/personality-disorders/what-is-repetitive-compulsion-how-to-overcome-it/

https://psychcentral.com/blog/repetition-compulsion-why-do-we-repeat-the-past

https://psychcentral.com/blog/imperfect/2018/07/why-do-we-repeat-the-same-dysfunctional-relationship-patterns

https://www.simplypsychology.org/repetition-compulsion.html

https://www.livewellwithsharonmartin.com/we-repeat-what-we-dont-repair/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/repetition-compulsion

Norma Jeane

What would she say, if she saw it

If she saw, how she was perceived, is the way she is still perceived

Would she laugh it off, or be deeply disturbed

She is an icon, a symbol of something so fictional, that she is a fiction now

Would she be happy to be idolized, to be lusted after, to be the image, everyone wants and to be

The way one looks at her, is the only way allowed now

One might think, to look at her differently,
but who will be the true advocate for her

All that we know, is what sold and sells still,
Yet She was much more than we think her to be.