The Myth of the Female Gaze

Posted: February 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

Apparently today is LadyPornDay. Like Ladies Day at Ascot, but without the hats.

‘Porn for women’  is a contentious subject. According to Suraya, the editor of Filament Magazine, the lack of porn that suits women’s tastes is to do with the fact porn is on the whole made by men. She encourages women photographers to photograph men ‘erotically’.

Suraya on writing about LadyPornDay said: ‘A few re-occurring comments caught my attention, in which women agreed that finding explicit male photography online that involved an erection and was surely aimed at women was near impossible.

This is both disappointing as a fact, and comforting to hear. Half the time when I say ‘there’s sod all erotic photography of men out there that’s aimed at women’, I am told I’m obviously not looking very hard, or my absolute favourite, ‘Have you tried the internet?’’

Now. I don’t think the ‘female gaze’ or the ‘male gaze’ exist. I think people get turned on by a variety of different things, regardless of their sex, gender identity or orientation.

One of the main discussions on #ladypornday has been around how ‘gay porn’ doesn’t cater for women. It says ‘it is not for you’ according to quite a few women. As a lover of gay porn I find this weird. I can’t think of any other porn I really want to watch to be honest. I have been told I can watch it but it is not meant for me, I cannot ‘feel’ what a gay viewer would, because I don’t have a cock. Well that may be true. But I have all the other equipment required to enjoy gay porn. Including eyes. I think the ‘porn for women’ idea forgets as well that many gay men have had to watch visual material for many years, that ignores their ‘gaze’. And one of the wonderful things about changes to our culture, recently, is that gay men and straight or bi or whatever women, can see more material they all enjoy (and I don’t mean Sex In The City Films). Mark Simpson has pointed out how even James Bond, that macho figure of ‘heterosexual’ manliness, has become an object of desire, available to men and women. Even though he seems to think Bond belongs to him. I know thousands of women would fight Simmo for ‘Bond’s Blond Bollocks’… (but he still might win)

Simpson’s writing also brings into focus how we forget, when talking about looking, and desire, the existence of ‘bisexuality’. If some people are attracted to both men and women, surely ‘all’ porn is for them? And if some people are able to watch all kinds of porn, surely … er… anyone can? It seems so obvious to me. I know Filament magazine is partly about encouraging women photographers of men’s bodies. I think this is great. But when I asked her about Sporno-an area full of men’s bodies, she thought it wasn’t the kind of thing her readers would be interested in. So she is only interested in encouraging women to produce particular types of photography of men.

Today I chatted online to someone who said their mother had an electrician round who happened to be a woman, and she referred to her as a ‘lady electrician’. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? So does LadyPorn to my ears.
Here are some images of men. Do you think they are ‘aimed at women’, men, or anyone else in particular?

  1. kimboosan says:

    I think that people THINK there is a female gaze, and that in and of itself is revolutionary as it pulls the idea of erotic imagery (aka porn) for women out of the “Fabio romance book covers” arena.

    But…honestly, as a woman, what I love about any porn is particular to my erotic tastes. I don’t like dirty/trash talking and I don’t enjoy watching people rim, but I really love sincere, emotionally charged oral sex scenes/pictures; and that’s across all gender lines. But that’s ME, and my flavor of arousal. I find a LOT of “gay porn” photos beautiful and sexy. Is that me as a woman? Or…? So no, I don’t think there really is a “female gaze”, I think there is simply a broader spectrum of sexually erotic photography than porn has generally been given credit for.

    Also to note, like you, the porn I love most is gay porn, and while a lot of it is just as sterile and manufactured as any other porn out there, for the most part I find a lot more of it to enjoy than not. No, I don’t have (all) the equipment, but then neither do all those “straight” boys who love lesbo!porn. FFS. There’s a difference? *rolls eyes*

    • well the difference the ‘female gaze’ people would say is that ‘lesbo’ porn tends to be made with straight men in mind.

      But in my view, a lot of ‘gay’ pornographers know full well they are also catering to a women’s market as well as a gay men’s one. Not to mention BISEXUAL people! Who rather show the idea of a ‘male’ or ‘female’ gaze is ridiculous!

  2. ND says:

    Gaze theory has seen its day.

  3. elissa says:

    My recentest ex would argue that you’re overlooking patterns, he use to say the same of me. I replied that I knew, and did so consciously. He then would accuse me of changing topics.

    More interestingly though, his idea was that women “look” by expressing overt femininity and males similar, and that the “gaze” is more akin to getting a skin tan on a tropical beach than shining a flashlight in a dark cave. I would then accuse him of switching topics.

  4. Hiya QRG,

    Oh, the syncronicity of this is too weird….

    I just posted a reply where I described my experience with the female gaze…

    Another clothesfree beach experience….

    I don’t know if it’s bad form or not to post something I wrote that is up somewhere else so I will just leave a link:

    (it’s buried under a bunch of comments, still under Stoner With a Boner.)

    • thanks. that whole ‘homosociality’ thing in america has a lot of mileage. I don’t like the way it is always presented as negative. Though, there are occasionally negative aspects to it. as in any groupingof people based on sex/gender. still, interesting stuff!

  5. Tim says:

    About James Bond:

    Mark Simpson is so right about Casino Royale. Vesper Lynd was everthing a good Double-O agent is supposed to be. She was witty, elegant, classy, clever and had a thing for gadgets and cars. She basically was everything a bond is supposed to be. I was so enraged when her death was used as a cheap plot device. And Daniel Craig ? Though it never occurred to me that he was supposed to be ‘eye-candy’, I always thought of him as a tea-drinking Vin Diesel. Worst. Bond. Ever.

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by The Curator and Elly , Elly . Elly said: My contribution to #Ladypornday the myth of the 'female gaze' […]

  7. Peter Houlihan says:

    Thats a really interesting perspective, I’ll give you what I think is a compliment in that I’ve rather changed my view of this.

    I used to think that porn was irrelevant to the female traditional gender role because the “victory condition” was achieving value through having partners come to her, something porn can’t provide, whereas “victory” for the male traditional gender role was achieving value through gaining access to partners in general, something easily provided through porn.

    I was forgetting of course that every woman and man, no matter how conservative, is an individual and never really fits those roles. Thanks for reminding me 😀 Womanporn is now in my “non-problem” folder.


  8. […] have argued against the validity of the myth of the female gaze and taken Simpson’s perspective, concluding that really, in metrosexual times, the gaze, […]

  9. jemima101 says:

    Incredibly glad that lady porn day passed me by, what a ridiculous concept! I like s&m porn, is that designed for the male or female gaze? Though given the concept of the male gaze is incredibly problematic I am not sure I even want to type the words “female gaze”.

    • 😀 yes S and M does throw a spanner in the works with the male or female gaze concepts. e.g. a lot of ‘sub’ women like looking at pictures of sub women – as identification, attraction, inspiration whatever. and a lot of men into s and m like looking at pictures of men doing things to women.

  10. […] gaze’ and have argued that in metrosexual culture, the gaze is of no fixed gender, and is polymorphously perverse. So, if power does reside in part in the ‘gaze’, then maybe, rather than living at the […]

  11. Bastet says:

    I strongly disagree with you. ‘The male gaze’ refers to specifically the hetetosexual male gaze and 96% of all imagery is a sexualised female specifically done for this gaze. In the 1950’s it was only 62% of all imagery. Hence, the reason for women being ‘the sex class’ now more than ever before. Also, the alteration of images and alteration of bodies through plastoc surgery means that the overwhelming majority of these images are not even close to reality.

    Porn for the ‘female gaze’ may be better described as porn for the ‘heterosexual female gaze’. It is literally the only big industry porn not available. There’s a reason for this. It would place heterosexual men into the ‘sex class’; a taboo the industry can’t and won’t break.

    I have seen porn that says it is for women but for the most part its either erotica or its 70’s style porn for men.

  12. […] In a 2011 article by QuietRiotgirl, she says: […]

  13. Madeline says:

    Why the heck do they all have six packs though, eww.
    Try being a straight cis female who wants hairy daddy porn, fat guys with beards jerking it, muscle guts and hairy assess. The world might as well act like we don’t exist. You’d say that I should just look at gay porn, but what if I want a porn of that type of man where I know he’s straight, so the fantasy of him fucking me isn’t just something I have to make up out of thin air? what if I don’t want to see him fucking another dudes butt? Guess we’re shit out of luck…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s