“F*** The Patriarchy”

Kylee Johnston

      Taylor Swift said it best: “F*** the patriarchy,” in her song “All Too Well (10 min version).” The male gaze is a concept not admittedly known by men. Women, however, may not be able to define it in words but know how it feels. The male gaze is the act of depicting and dissecting women and the perception that women are nothing more than sexual objects. This mindset leaves men feeling empowerment over women, continuing the patriarchal ideology. This term was brought about by novels and films. Movies like, “The Virgin Suicides,” and “500 Days of Summer” incorporate the male gaze in different ways. The book, “Looking For Alaska” also portrays this demeaning perspective. Males can act in different manners but women always feel the same way. Whatever way these masterpieces depict the male gaze, one thing is for certain. That most miss the message, and that is the whole point. 


     The male gaze is looked over and will continue to be overlooked without effort to change that. Informing and recognizing is the first step. 


     Objectification comes in different forms. It’s not only women being viewed as objects instead of humans. They miss the truth which is inside. But it can also be entirely different. The other side of this coin is in “500 Days of Summer,” where the story is told from the perspective of Tom. He meets this beautiful woman, Summer, and his fascination with her sprouts from there. She simply said two sentences and that was enough for Tom. We are all guilty of romanticizing people and relationships. But Tom was very extreme. He built up Summer in his head and he was obsessed with the idea of her rather than the real her. She said she didn’t believe in love, and she didn’t want anything serious. He ignored that, and saw it as a challenge. If he really cared about her, he’d respect her opinion, rather than try to change her, right?


     From his point of view, Summer looks like the villain. Tom was controlling and didn’t respect what she wanted. She ended up having a serious relationship, immediately after him. He was crushed. He hated Summer, and everything about her. He was angry that he wasn’t the main character in her story, that she didn’t see his worth. 


     The male gaze can be overlooking the person and seeing a fake version of them. Looking at them as a project, toy, or a game. Looking over their feelings. This causes the male to see a fake version rather than real. They become fictionalized. 


     The “Virgin Suicides,” is about five  sisters and their mysterious life told through the lens of the neighborhood boys who worshipped them. Their story can be looked at from many different angles. The boys pondered many different theories. The first daughter attempting suicide is where the story started. The family then hosted a neighborhood party to try to get Cecile to mingle, socialize, and feel better. But she wasn’t happy and she ended up killing herself that night. Her death was traumatic for everyone, especially the sisters. Not for the boys though. They snuck into their house and found her diary. Her clear call for help went unnoticed by everyone including the audience. Even with her mind on ink and paper, the boys only saw what they wanted to see. Whatever dark thoughts Cecile had been feeling, so did the girls. Their strict parents only made matters worse. The imprisonment they felt in their house translated to the imprisonment of being a girl. Stuck in their bodies and in the idolized minds of dazed males. There are numerous scenes of the boys adoring the girls rather than seeing them as people. The story starts to pick up as the popular boy, Tripp, seeks out one of the girls, Lux, out of interest. A sad girl who has no business being used or messed with to begin with. Lux has an idea of how males work. At first she uses this to her advantage with Tripp. But after the homecoming dance, she inevitably gives him what he wants and she wakes up in a field all alone, in worse condition than before. Her mental state declined even more now. The parents then grounded the girls for months. They had no connection to the outside world. The boys would send messages to them, but in the end nothing helped. Towards the end of the story, the boys “escape plan” to save the Lisbon girls failed when they encountered all of them dead. Years pass and they still find them mysterious. The last lines were, “it didn’t matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls. But only that we had loved them.” The boys missed the point, and so did most of the audience. Me too. They also said, “We felt the imprisonment of being a girl, the way it made your mind active and dreamy, and how you ended up knowing which colors went together. We knew, finally, that the girls were really women in disguise, that they understood love and even death, and that our job was merely to create the noise that seemed to fascinate them. We knew that they knew everything about us, though we couldn’t fathom them at all.” 


     Women have more than we think. History has shown we’ve been underestimated and invisible to those around us, specifically men. The sad part is that the boys thought they were important enough in the girls’ story. This somehow had nothing and everything to do with the boys. It wasn’t about them. The girls needed help, help no one could understand, relate to, or provide. The sisters made a secretive escapable pact together only they understood. 


      Lastly is the novel “Looking for Alaska” by John Green. Alaska, Chip, Takumi, and a new student Miles are your average group of friends who spend time together at their boarding school. Alaska is unlike any other, and everyone adores her. Miles falls in love with her the second he meets her. From then on, Alaska’s struggles were overlooked because of this “love”. She is a deep, intense, temperamental, and sorrowful teenage girl who has dealt with things out of her control for too long, alone. A tragic accident happened to her very young. Her dad blames Alaska for her mothers death and she carries around that guilt everywhere. Miles, the main character, is obsessed with people’s last words. Just as Miles was starting to understand and fall for Alaska everything changed. She freaked out one night and asked Miles to distract the principal so she can escape without being caught. They had been drinking and he knew it wasn’t a good idea but he let her go, and that would be his most regretful decision ever. She forgot about her mothers death anniversary and she went ballistic. She drove away full of pain, misery, anger and emotions no one understood. She died in a car accident that night. The details of the accident didn’t make sense, and it left the group confused, sad, and without closure. Miles, not knowing Alaska’s last words, was especially affected. While he is the main character, and he loved her, this isn’t his story to tell. Alaska was struggling, and no one could help her. They saw her smile as she said her jokes disguising her pain. 


     It’s not about relationships or romance. It’s about girls who struggle invisibly because of men and how they see that invisibility. 


     In conclusion women are invisible, but only because of the way we are seen. With a different lens, or eyes we can be seen. And we need to be seen.