10 Ways to Fight Against the Male Gaze in a Relationship
In This Article
The male gaze is a concept that has existed for a long time which discusses how societal activities are seen from the male standpoint. This concept is a feminist theory that believes that this outlook prevents women from being the best version of themselves.
In this article, you will learn what the male gaze means in relationships and the effects of two people dating each other. Additionally, you will see some effective tips to fight against the male gaze in a relationship.
What is the male gaze in relationships?
When it comes to the male gaze definition, different meanings can be attributed to it. First, the male gaze could mean viewing women as sexual objects from a male perspective. It could also mean showing women as highly sexualized and desirable individuals that men lust after.
To answer the question of what is the male gaze or male gaze theory, many feminists have the opinion that it puts women down and creates a system where they will always be below men.
5 effects of the male gaze in a relationship
When the male gaze or internalized male gaze exists in a union, it can affect the relationship dynamics, which might not bode well for both parties in the long run.
Here are some of the effects of the male gaze in a relationship
1. Reinforces gender stereotypes
Regarding the male gaze meaning in a relationship, one of the common effects is that it empowers gender stereotypes. This means that in a heterosexual relationship, men are likely to have a generalized conception about some roles that should normally belong to women.
Hence, they will distance themselves from these roles or attributes because of their preconceived notion.
Sometimes, gender stereotypes can put women at a disadvantage because their partners will not be inclined to help or see things from their perspective.
For instance, if a woman is pregnant, someone with a male gaze might still expect her to perform some of her duties, not minding if it is convenient for her or not.
Related Reading: 11 Examples Of Traditional Gender Roles
2. She might see herself only as a sex partner
Another effect that the male gaze brings to the relationship is that the woman might see herself as nothing more than a sex partner. She will feel that her presence in the relationship is to satisfy the man’s sensual desires.
The male gaze can make a woman feel like sex is the only thing keeping her in the relationship, and the man might leave if he’s tired of her. Additionally, she might see herself as unable to satisfy the man in other aspects of his life.
3. Limits her development and progress
With the male gaze in the relationship, the woman might be unable to reach her highest potential. She might not be able to develop a growth mindset because of the present stereotype in the relationship.
It may be impossible for her to take some daring steps that will ensure her self-development because she has not realized it. She may find it hard to support her partner because she does not feel capable enough.
4. Power imbalance in the relationship
When there is a male gaze in a relationship, it can cause a power imbalance. The woman might begin to feel a sense of insecurity and begin to doubt her partner’s commitment to the relationship. She might prioritize the union by investing quality time and effort to make things work.
However, with the presence of the male gaze, she may start to wonder if her partner cared about her initially. When interacting with her partner, she may often feel unfulfilled because of the absence of a deep emotional connection.
She is likely to feel empty and less energized because her partner is not meeting her emotional needs.
5. She may feel some roles are for her alone
Another effect of the male gaze in a relationship is when the woman automatically assumes some roles because she feels they are for her. This probably means that her partner may have refused to do some roles because of the feeling that they are not for them.
In a heterosexual relationship, the woman might feel confined to some traditional gender roles like cooking and taking care of the children.
To learn more about the effects of the Male Gaze, this study by Rachel M. Calogero is for you. The study is titled ‘A Test of Objectification Theory’, which looks at the Effect of the Male Gaze on Appearance Concerns in College Women.
5 Examples of the male gaze in daily life
To understand more on how to identify the male gaze in daily life, here are some common examples that you’re likely to experience.
- A woman wearing occasion-inappropriate clothing in a gathering where men are well dressed
- Women with only underwear in clubs or parties to attract men
- Alluring pictures of a woman to advertise a product or service
- A woman in movies wearing clothes that show her cleavage or other parts of her body being sexually objectified by the camera
- Nudity displayed by female characters in movies
To have a more holistic view on the male gaze examples, read this research study by Anneke Smelik. This study is titled ‘The Male Gaze in Cinema’, using Hollywood as a case study.
The negative impact of the male gaze in relationships
Most times, the male gaze affects the way a woman sees herself. She may more likely view herself as an object of pleasure rather than someone who has something beneficial to offer.
Therefore, she might not be able to support her partner the way she should because of the limitations placed on her mental capacity by the male gaze.
10 ways to fight against the male gaze in a relationship
If the male gaze continues to exist in a relationship, it can affect the stability of the union. Here are some ways to kick against the male gaze in a relationship.
1. Stop the stereotypes
When you notice the male gaze examples in your relationship, one of the ways to kick against it is to stop the gender stereotypes. First, it begins by not putting yourself down for belonging to your gender.
If you feel your partner can handle some of the roles in the relationship, you can talk to them about it. When you and your partner collaborate to handle some of the duties in the relationship, not minding the gender, it helps to eliminate the male gaze.
2. Communicate how you feel
If you feel the male gaze in your relationship is affecting you, one of the ways to help yourself is to communicate with your partner. It might be that your partner isn’t aware of what they are doing, and their actions may make you feel inadequate.
Therefore, speak with your partner, and let them know how the two of you can put heads together to eliminate the male gaze in the relationship.
3. Be independent
Another way to kick against the male gaze in the relationship is to be independent. You need to find a way to be responsible for some aspects of your life without any external input, including your partner’s.
When your partner sees you as independent, it might change how they see you. They may stop seeing you as a sex partner and more of a partner who looks out for herself.
Related Reading: What Is Hyper Independence in a Relationship
4. Set goals with your partner
One of the reasons why the male gaze might be dominant in a relationship is when partners don’t set goals for themselves in the relationship. If the male gaze exists in your relationship, discuss with your partner how to set and work towards achieving goals.
When you set goals with your partner, it makes them see you as someone more instead of a person who satisfies their sexual desires.
Watch this video on how to set goals as a couple:
5. Discuss your values with your partner regularly
If your partner is unaware of your values, the male gaze might exist in the relationship. They may only have a warped view of what you offer in bed, but they may not know that you’re worth more.
Hence, it is important to let your partner know your values because they signify how they help you grow and create the future you desire to experience.
When your partner is aware of your values, they can support you in making the right choices that will positively impact you and the relationship.
6. Take an interest in your partner’s hobbies
Everyone has hobbies or interests that keep them engaged and happy. One of the ways to remove the male gaze in your relationship is to show your partner that you’re genuinely interested in their hobbies.
Showing interest is a profound way to build a healthy relationship that will stand the test of time.
Even if those hobbies do not appeal to you on a normal day, it is important to show support. Avoid talking down on their hobbies; try to be there to lend a listening ear each time they talk about something they love.
7. Support them in all aspects of their life
Instead of leaving your partner to navigate through life all by themselves, it is important for you to show your support. Doing this helps to reduce the male gaze effect in your relationship. You need to show your partner that you are worth more than a romantic and sexual partner.
If they are facing issues in their career or finances, give them a listening ear and offer valuable support.
Related Reading: 20 Steps to Becoming a Supportive Partner
8. Switch up the routine between the two of you
Another way to fight against the male gaze in your relationship is to change the routine that you and your partner usually participate in. This is one way to reduce boredom and show your partner that you can make your relationship fun and lively.
Don’t always rely on your partner to make the relationship an interesting one. You can throw in some ideas from time to time so that your partner will value your presence more in the relationship.
9. Speak on the state of your relationship
One of the important ways to know if your relationship is on the right track is when you and your partner evaluate the union periodically. This is essential to know your shortcomings and how to improve.
If you are deliberate about discussing the state of your union with your partner, it might help to reduce the male gaze. They will be impressed that you are making conscious efforts to improve things between the two of you.
10. Team up with your spouse to solve problems in the home
When there are issues in your home, avoid leaving everything to your partner to solve. If you don’t get involved in solving some of the problems in your union, it might strengthen the effect of the male gaze.
Your partner might feel that you’re not mentally equipped to provide solutions to problems, and that is probably why you leave those issues to them.
How to change the gaze
When it comes to both the male and female gaze, one of the ways to change it is to stop viewing both genders from the standpoint of objectification. Both genders should show respect for each other and appreciate their worth beyond their physical looks or identities.
To learn more on how to change the male gaze, read this interesting journal by Diane Ponterotto. This journal is titled ‘Resisting the Male Gaze: Feminist Responses to the “Normatization” of the Female Body in Western Culture’.
Commonly considered questions!
After discussing impact and ways to deal with a male gaze, it’s time to take up some questions which might be important in line with dealing with a male gaze. Let’s try to answer the questions below.
What problem does the male gaze cause?
One of the major problems of the male gaze is that it adversely affects women, as it forces them to conform to a patriarchal view of how women should behave and act. It also affects how women see themselves, which can negatively affect their emotional and mental health.
How to fight a male gaze?
When it comes to fighting the male gaze, it could involve putting women in positions of empowerment. This would gradually remove the conventional notions associated with the male gaze. Another way is to spread awareness by letting people know the negative effects of the male gaze.
When you know the effects of the male gaze and how to fight against it, you might be able to help other women facing the same situation in their union. The male gaze is a popular social convention that can be eliminated when everyone is intentional about correcting the narrative associated with it.
If you need more help on how to manage issues related to the male gaze with your partner, consider taking a pre marriage course of seeing a relationship counselor.
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