So, I really love writing my “I Am Not a Straight Girl” series. LOVE. It’s so much fun.
This one’s a quickie.
And all about the gaze. As in, THE GAZE.
Straight feminists talk about the male gaze. And if you’re sexually attracted to men, then the male gaze matters, right? You care what they find attractive and you form yourself toward that ideal, even if it twists you out of shape in a million ways. Not too powerful, not too smart, not stronger than…definitely feminine, definitely sexy. In the cliche, mind you.
But what about the female gaze? Or the gay male gaze?
What is my own gaze, for that matter?
What gaze do I lean toward, when I’m trying to attract a mate? (Okay, I already have a mate, and she pretty much finds the myriad of my gender fluidity and experiments amusing and even across-the-board attractive, so I’m good. Or I would be, if I didn’t like mass attention.)
Anyhow, in order:
The female gaze. As in straight female. When men lean toward that gaze, what do they become? And oh, why don’t we ask this question much more often?
Because men feel they have to be strong, dominant, smarter…they can’t fail, be weak, uncertain. The female gaze lives in the binary of traditional roles, and it demands that men never fully express their humanity. As a very honest friend of mine said recently, “I married jerks and dated nice guys who I judged.”
Or the gay male gaze. Which loves the perfect male form, which admires butchness, which allows vulnerability in limited ways, which wants sexy, which rejects geek, quirk, sloppy.
Gay men and straight women top the charts in anorexia/bulimia because of the emphasis on appearance in their respective and potential partners.
Which brings me to the lesbian gaze. Or the queer woman gaze. Or me.
Of course, I’ve been all over the map, but let’s land it where I don’t want to admit it lands–in the country of nurture. Support. Warmth. Not so focused on appearance, but definitely focused on comfort for the heart. And this might not be so bad, except that sexy and comfort don’t have a lot to do with each other.
Comfort has always been my Waterloo. Looking for the gaze that doesn’t ask me for a ridiculous amount of strength.
You see, there’s a reason I empathize so much with straight men.
However, in my particular queer gaze, I’m looking for duality, for both/and, for butch, for play, for outlaw. I’m most attracted to gender queer and trans people, because long before I had language to explain it, I knew that male and female both didn’t quite work for me. Neither were terrible, so I called myself bi, but honestly, too much yin or yang…not my thing.
I want the in-between, the other, the re-imagined, the inventing as you go gender. I want the discovery, I want the little edge of male that is a sexual gasp in the surrounding almost female.
We all look. We all have a gaze.
And that, in the end, is what this blog is about. Not the easily politicized…and don’t get me wrong, I get that straight women suffer in living with the male gaze, and that the male gaze is sexist and limiting and soul-crushing, or can be. I mean, I don’t really get why they don’t just turn to another woman, but that’s another subject.
But if we’re all looking, then let us look for what is human, what frees us to recognize each other.
Sexuality can’t be easily explained or defined. What attracts us, in the gender of another. But I can say that my partner’s gender is woven together with who she is…with her experience, with her morality, with her empathy, compassion and kindness. I love what her experience of otherness has done for growing her big heart bigger, even as I mourn for the loneliness she’s felt as an outsider.
We all look.
Know that your gaze can carve a space for someone to live more deeply in this world.
Or can shut out huge chunks of who they are.
Love more. See more. Make room.
We’re all looking. It would be great if we all could really see.