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The Gaze: Being Oneself and Being-For-Others

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Lindsay Kelland

on 12 September 2016

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Transcript of The Gaze: Being Oneself and Being-For-Others

The Gaze: Being Oneself and Being-For-Others
What kind of meaning?
Stereotypes -- think of the associations we were talking about when we looked at implicit bias

Norms -- ways in which certain bodies should:

Life scripts -- stories about how certain lives are / should go...
"My body was given back to me sprawled out, distorted, recolored, clad in mourning in that white winter day. The Negro is an animal, the Negro is bad, the Negro is mean, the Negro is ugly … All round me the white man, above the sky tears at its navel, the earth rasps under my feet, and there is a white song, a white song. All this whiteness that burns me. . . .
I sit down at the fire and I become aware of my uniform. I had not seen it. It is indeed ugly. I stop there, for who can tell me what beauty is?"

The Ethics of Conversation
The Gaze
“In the midst of this world already provided with meaning I meet with a meaning which is mine and which I have not given to myself, which I discover that I ‘possess already’... the for-itself experiences itself as an object in the Universe beneath the Other’s look ... here I suddenly encounter the total alienation of my person: I am something which I have not chosen to be.”

International campaigns to reclaim women's embodiment
Local campaigns to reclaim women's embodiment
So, 'the gaze' tells us what our bodies mean, what we (as embodied beings) are meant to be like, who we're meant to be, and what we're meant to look like
What the hell does this mean?
I have a body
My body has a race, sex, gender, etc
These facts about my body have meaning in the social world
This meaning is, from birth, projected onto -- given to -- my body by others, and by society
When others look at me, I therefore receive meaning that I do not choose but which I embody for the other
"O my body, make of me always a man who questions" -- Fanon's prayer
Remember Fanon
The problem arises when we internalize this gaze and hold ourselves to these same standards
Tomorrow's movie...
Like critical race theorists and activists, feminists have also done significant work when it comes to reclaiming the body and challenging the meaning of 'the [male] gaze'...

I am going to show you some of this work based on my own reflections on the meaning of MY body

I encourage you to go and do the same...
Pretense of curiosity. Not pushing it. Not recognizing how little we know. Resting in peace after merely voicing opinion. This is a central guiding principle. You are sharing your views with others and if you are just sharing your unconsidered opinions, the conversations will not go very far.
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