The Masculine Gaze

The Binding and Control of the Female Form within the Masculine Gaze. Understanding how the vulnerability is an essential part of nudity can be found first through an examination of a male nude, The Dying Gaul, which represents how nudity evokes tension as the viewer sees in the object their own vulnerabilities and reviles them as they are associated with weakness. Through Georgia O’Keefe, however, the association of the female form at its most intimate when it is revealed through the aspects of nature allows for a sense of desire to be viewed without overtones of violence or degradation. As the discussion turns to the public sphere, the idea of the female in the workplace, the concept of domination becomes more acutely visible, the vulnerability of the nude replaced by the idea of male domination over female office workers whose existence is dependent upon their beauty and sexual appeal. Within the span between the mid 19th century to the mid 20th century, the vulnerability of the female form turned from the willingness to accept those chains to the tension of patriarchal subjugation in the public sphere.The female nude has been a subject for art for centuries. The nude form reveals human beings at their most vulnerable. One of the best examples of this type of vulnerability can be seen in the sculpture titled The Dying Gaul (Figure 1). In order to understand the human belief in the idea of the nude, it is interesting to examine this expressive piece of sculpture from the Hellenistic period. While the original does not exist, antiquity has saved the Roman copy of this piece in order to give to posterity an example of the human view of nudity as it relates to vulnerability. The warrior is nude in order to humiliate him and his homeland, unclothed to denote his weakness without weapons or armor on the field of battle (Perry, 1882). His death is not complete. he lives in the state between life and death as he leans against his and contemplating the wound that will take his life. He is vulnerable to all things at this point, his strength waning as his body is without protection. In looking at this nude, the viewer can begin to see how the female nude can be understood in relation to her environment.The female nude, on the other hand, is in a conflicted state for the viewer. The female nude has the power of her sexuality to move those who view her. Being nude leaves the female in a state of vulnerability, essential violence on the fringes of how she is viewed. The nude and the romanticized idea of rape are never far from one another as she is represented in a form that evokes fear and sometimes anger. Anger can be found through the fear that her sexuality can motivate, manipulate, and make men violate their own principles in order to get near her in that state. It was, after all, the desire for a woman that launched a thousand ships against the city of Troy. The female nude is in a state of vulnerability, but she also has power and creates a conflict upon the viewer.

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