Responsibility to act should not have to fall on the oppressed. While I do not feel that I am actively oppressed my mainstream media/advertising, it does not mean I can sit and idly watch it happen. Our recent reading of bell hooks concerning the oppositional gaze highlighted this for me. If something doesn’t offend you, it’s easy to sit and look uncritically. However, my responsibility goes beyond that. Now that I am cognizant of the application of the heterosexual male gaze to mainstream media, it is my responsibility to look and act critically. I, as an observer, should challenge the idea that women are there for observation. With male friends I can make it known that obvious objectification of women isn’t okay. It isn’t so much that I look with an oppositional gaze at those who observe me, but rather I can look oppositionally at those who observe others and the application of the male gaze in everything.
The application of this to my life became obvious a few weeks ago. While perusing the pages of a bass-playing magazine, I came across an ad for an amplifier company. A bassist named Emma Anzai was pictured sitting on their amp. It said nothing about how the amp would sound, but just had Emma sitting on the amp. She’s not even holding a bass! You’re just supposed to equate hot girl bassist + their amplifier = good. Realizing this put it into perspective for me. No longer were the ideas from the reading just abstract ideas. I actually felt myself becoming annoyed at the obvious marketing attempt. While I didn’t burn the magazine in protest, I will definitely think twice before purchasing another Ampeg. Thoughts like these should be my responsibility to help recognize what’s wrong in the media.
(side note, couldn’t find an online version of the ad; here’s their website: