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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

27 November, 2004

The Interview

34-24-36. 5’6”. Shiny black tresses caressed the curve of her neck, brushing lovingly against her shoulder, much like a lover would. The red waist-coat faithfully moulded her body, highlighting her assets beautifully. She wore a skirt that stopped just short of her knees – some silky material that shifted sensuously against her legs with each step she took forward…
"Please have a seat..."
"Thank you, Sir." Those husky tones could do a lot for a man’s imagination, not to mention the libido. As she sat down, her skirt shifted higher drawing the gaze down to her thighs. She shifted, her spine stiffened as she straightened in the chair.
"My Curriculum Vitae, Sir. As you can see I completed my Masters from…"
Her voice droned on in the background as his gaze drifted idly upwards taking in the nip of her waist and higher up, the proud tilt of her chin to the kohl-lined deep brown eyes that were sparkling indignantly with fire. If looks could, he would have burnt at the spot. He leaned back in his chair and smiled.
"She would do. Oh yes, she would do alright..."

(Inspired by John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing” – an influential book, in which he talks about the male gaze. He argues (successfully) that “men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.” Women continue to be “depicted in a different way to men - because the "ideal" spectator is always assumed to be male and the image of the woman is designed to flatter him” Berger was speaking with art in mind, yet his arguments are highly applicable in a quotidian situation – aren’t we as women, constantly aware of the male gaze, perpetually modifying our appearance to please it?)

10 Comments:

Blogger Ubermensch said...

by the looks of it she wud do more than alrite!!

27 November, 2004 14:40  
Blogger SPECKLED_BAND said...

Quite.

27 November, 2004 15:12  
Blogger Sreekesh Menon said...

Oh la la !

27 November, 2004 21:27  
Blogger Geetanjali said...

Should have known it would elicite that reaction from men - and here I was indignant at the way female employees are treated in a corporate set-up even today...

Random thought - it would be interesting to have something of this sort, read out by a male and then a female, and see the reactions it creates...

28 November, 2004 12:44  
Blogger raindanseuse said...

Welcome aboard, gal.
Interesting piece. You remember commenting on my "I can drown in you". It was an exercise similar to yours. However, I got carried away by the humour!
Yes I quite agree, having this read in a male voice would have a completely different appeal.

28 November, 2004 20:09  
Blogger khuto said...

Hi . . . a very provocative piece. I think also that it would be interesting to look at it from a male perspective.

In studies on gaze, the female subjects look into the camera more often than the male.
Perhaps it could be couched in the first
person from the male side. That would be like
looking into the camera. Third person is like
averting the gaze.

I feel that part of the best storytelling
is really to take the P.O.V. of the opposite gender,
something that you find in Tagore. Arthur Schnitzler's
Fraulein Else is a phenomenal work in this genre.

When men take on the female role in text, it is a matter of choice. But women feel forced to
take on a male role, like George Eliot, or the
mathematician Sophie Germain, who wrote extensively
to Gauss and others under the pen name Monsieur Leblanc.

Also your piece made me think of Marie Curie, the
beautiful outsider with a brilliant mind. How did
she feel when she was being interviewed for admission
to Sorbonne? Why is it harder for a good looking woman
to be taken seriously than a good looking man? Is
it because of the male gaze?

30 November, 2004 06:12  
Blogger Geetanjali said...

Hmm..I agree Khuto. I think female models tend to treat the camera lens as the male eye/gaze; they are trying to meet the male gaze and portray themselves according to what they see reflected in that gaze. Notice how these ads, cater to the male expectations, even when they are directed at men?

Kuddos to you Khuto for those comments! And thanks!

30 November, 2004 16:49  
Blogger Geetanjali said...

Gah..I meant "directed at women"
*embarrassed about typo!*

30 November, 2004 16:52  
Blogger arvind said...

Men look at women, yes. That stereotype has been flogged to death. But women also look at women. Why?

About being taken seriously, it frequently has to do with what is familiar, and NOT always due to the sexist bias that is so convenient to disparage. For a receptionist's or executive assistant's job, I'm sure a good looking woman would be taken much more seriously than a good looking man. (Why certain situations should be "normal" for certain genders is a separate unrelated subject.)

Similarly the gender that is chosen for a pen name. Not to contest the George Eliot or Monsieur Leblanc line of reasoning, but it works the other way around too. Men who write agony aunt columns commonly use female names, because that's the only way they'll be taken seriously.

Tell me, if a man wrote a book advising women on how to deal with domestic violence or harassment, would you read it?

30 November, 2004 20:00  
Blogger Anamhika said...

Yes Geets, I do dress for men. I dress for myself most of the time but when I think of the impression I'll make on others, I think of men. The male gaze I imagine makes me move differently and makes me smile more often which is not the worst effect.
So far the confessions, now my wish: Why doesn't my man dress for me? How to make the men aware that we also like to look at nice things? I do. So, men, find the balance between dressing like a geezer and not giving a damn for appearance. Mind-blowing aftershave is not enough.

01 December, 2004 01:09  

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