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  • Jonathan Isserow

Disrupting the Male Gaze and Restoring Humanity with Michael Kimmel

Wow! What a complete joy to meet Dr Michael Kimmel who is an early pioneer, academic and researcher in the gender equity/ masculinities space. If you have not seen his TED talk, then stop reading this and take a look! He has written extensively and his list of publications is impressively long! Not only is he a giant in the field but beyond that, he is a warm, humorous and engaging person. There were many dimensions to our meeting but of particular interest was his elucidation of the male gaze in relation to understanding men and masculinity. Michael noted Laura Mulvey's foundational text because she illuminated how women may live under the male gaze. Women — particularly those represented on screen — are the bearer of the male gaze, that provide scopophilic pleasures of looking, in film. Kimmel's work, can be understood to be similarly but differently concerned with the impact and consequences for men to live under the male gaze, with differently problematic outcomes and power relations. The male gaze also forms a means of gender policing, that is, its about men checking out other men and making sure they are doing it right and policing each other. to do so. Kimmel suggests that one of the powerful ways that ow patriarchy is structured and sustained. In his book Manhood in America, Kimmel explores the perfomativity of masculinity — not for a female audience to impress woman — but rather, that men want to be seen as a 'man's man'; they want to be seen as a man among men. They posturing might also be understood as homophobic as there is an an anxiety that other men might misperceive you as gay. It is this homosocial gaze that connects men to a very narrow masculinity that Michael challenges in his talks and writing. It is also about the restoration of human to human contact as an antidote. It is Michael's humanity along with his extraordinary ouvré of writing that requires deeper exploration.

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