The Male Gaze

While scrolling through memes on an internet forum, I discovered a fascinating image that would lead to my first study of the male gaze. A stock photograph, officially titled 'female bullying', features several teenage girls attacking a classmate. While the bullies stare at their target with menacing expressions, the victim stares out at us with pleading eyes. The caption accompanying the photograph summarizes the male gaze: "This looks like a Renaissance painting...or the start of a porn."

My experiment was to change the medium from photography to drawing, and attempt to push the image into the realm of Renaissance Art versus pornography. I then posted the drawing on the same forum, several months later, with a neutral caption. My experiment yielded shockingly similar comments as the original post, and nearly all were sexual in nature. After several centuries of exposure to Western Art portraying women as objects of sexual desire, the audience is programmed to see images of females in that context.


"Are they bullying or raping her? Either way it's hot and I would watch."

"hot."

"Now kiss."

"Looks pretty lesbian."

"Looks like the start of a good porn."

"Less clothes and I'd like it."

"Looks like a bad porno you shouldn't watch, because it'll get you a one way ticket to jail."

"Great, now I am horny."

"Your drawing makes it look like a porno."

"I think I've seen that video."

"Forgot the Brazzers logo."

"She's enjoying it a bit too much."

"Lezbehonest, that's hot."

"Maybe you should draw the naked version one."

"Looks like porn."

"Sexi."

"Brazzers."

"Lesbo group sex 101."

"No nude? Meh..."

"Like the beginning of a nice lesbian porn."

"I am thinking horny thoughts."

"Be better if they were naked."

"Hawt."

"Hot."

"Draw Brazzers logo."

"Nice porn intro."

"Too many clothes."

"Looks more like a thumbnail for a lesbian porn video."

"I've seen several short movies that start like this."

"Would be amazing if the bullied girl had her tits out, just saying."