I’ve recently been seeing a flurry of TikToks about the ‘Female Gaze’, which have further confirmed my own theories about the female sexual psyche.

In a world where visual media forms such as film, television, and art play a pivotal role in shaping societal perceptions, the notion of gaze – who is doing the looking and who is being looked at – has taken center stage in recent discussions about gender representation. Traditionally, narratives across these mediums have been dominated by the ‘male gaze,’ a term coined by film critic Laura Mulvey in 1975, referring to the way women are portrayed from a presumed heterosexual male perspective, often sexualized and objectified. However, in recent years, there has been a conscious shift away from this traditional lens.

This article explores the burgeoning power of the ‘female gaze,’ an interpretative theory that offers an alternative, countering the male-centric narrative.

The Female Gaze: What Turns Women On
Woman in the Mirror (1936) by Paul Delvaux.

 

A History of the Male & Female Gaze

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the term Male Gaze: Male writers, artists, directors (consciously or subconsciously) sexualising and objectifying  female characters in their arts and literature. It’s not uncommon. 

The female gaze was coined to mean sort of the opposite: female characters freed from the male perspective, freed from being sexualised or objectified for male pleasure. 

More recently the female gaze has taken on a new meaning, (here’s where my TikTok vids come in). People are using the term to describe the female sexual psyche and what turns women on. A poignant comment on one video read:

 

There is nothing hotter to a woman than her own fantasies.

 

 

It kind of hits the nail on the head. 

 

What Turns Women On

What this is supposed to mean is that a woman’s desire is very internal. She isn’t turned on just by a man alone, she’s turned on by fantasising about the way the man sexualises her. In other words, she’s turned on by the hyper-sexual image of herself through the unrealistic lens of the male gaze. 

When she touches herself, she’s not thinking of a sexy man, his abs, his chiseled jaw, his huge chopper; instead she’s thinking what a man would want to do to her, all of his dirty thoughts and how badly he wants her. She’s literally putting herself in his mind, whilst remembering that she is the woman within the scenario. That’s what gets her off.

Side note: I’m not claiming this theory to be true for every single woman out there. It’s simply an idea that I personally have always related to and which I am now seeing many other women relate to.

 

Even During Sex?

It’s the same in sex. Many men are confused as to why so many women close their eyes during sex. In my opinion, men are generally much more visual and want to see the woman in front of them, whereas the woman is more into the internal feeling.

Many close their eyes because women are under so much societal scrutiny that they feel unbearably self-conscious during sex and it puts them off. When they close their eyes, they can forget themselves, forget reality and slip into more of a fantastical, sexualised version of themselves.

In other words, men keep their eyes open to see the woman, and women close their eyes to see (a hyper-sexual version of) themselves. 

If you wish the woman you’re sleeping with would open her eyes during sex, you have to make her feel as desired as she is making herself feel in her mind. And even then, many women still prefer to keep their eyes closed. Speaking to her and expressing how attracted you are might allow her to find pleasure in the reality.

Basically, the biggest key to a woman’s excitement is feeling desired. If you don’t make that happen, she’ll make it happen herself, but it might feel more disconnected.

Personally, even when my eyes are open during sex or when I’m feeling super desired, it just feels natural for me to hyper-sexualise myself. When I’m moaning, or moving my body a certain way, it’s like I’m putting on a show for myself, to feel even more turned on.

It’s not that it’s fake, it’s what I truly feel like doing in that moment. It’s like an out of body experience, I’m watching myself, and getting turned on by it, and so is my partner. 

 

Why Are We Like This?

Many women might think themselves narcissistic for actually getting off…over themselves. Many women might be ashamed of how they objectify themselves in their mind, especially when they deem themselves a feminist. But we’ve got to give ourselves a break. No one can escape the patriarchal conditions in which we grew up.

We all have an internalised male gaze inside of us. Did we really think we could grow up in a society that sexualises the hell out of women, like, everywhere we look, and think we could come out unscathed?

People are quick to make fun of women who insist ‘I do my makeup for myself no one else!’ ‘I wear sexy underwear for myself no one else!’ But this proves that there is actually truth in it. Women take the measures they need to to feel good about themselves because they know that the top tier sex happens when they feel their most sexy.

 

Don’t Get Me Wrong…

Don’t get me wrong, women are still very capable of getting turned on by men. We see a 10/10 and feel all fluttery. We find particular personality traits sexually attractive. But what we’re trying to say is that a 6/10 who knows how to make you feel sexy and desired is going to beat a 10/10 who doesn’t any day of ze week! 

I’m also sure some of these points are the same for men. For example, I’ve noticed some men become hyper-masculine during sex as a way to sort of gear themselves up, and I know that it’s basically human to want to feel desired.

Maybe sex can be a little egotistical for everyone…however I believe that overall, both men and women focus more on the sexualisation of the woman during the act of sex. And the sexualisation of herself is very important for the woman to feel turned on. And that’s what the Female Gaze TikTokers today are trying to say. Let’s keep the conversation flowing!


Artwork by Mariana Ayumi

Culture
Feminism
psychology of sex
Sex
sexual fantasy
Iso

Iso

Author

Iso is a writer and filmmaker based in East London. She is passionate about all things erotic and leads a sexy, shame-free life in hope that she can inspire others to do the same. Originally from a Northern seaside town, she is naturally drawn to the best things in life: candyfloss, trashy karaoke bars and heart-shaped sunglasses.


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