Feminists might crib about the ‘male gaze’ and how it reduces women into commodities to be consumed, possessed or bartered.
When I was a just-turned-teen, we cared two hoots for all that feminist rant. We were all too busy being ‘feminine’. The ‘male gaze’ ruled our thoughts and dreams, in fact, the more males, the merrier.
‘How to attract the male (s) gaze (s)’ – was one of the most important problems of life. Elaborate strategies were planned and executed. We would spend hours hemming up our skirts to show more leg. My school-uniform-skirt had begun life as two-inches-below-the-knee, but when I passed out, it was an-inch-above, and all through strategic sewing. To achieve the same purpose, socks were compulsorily rolled down. Only the goody-two-shoes-type wore knee-length socks.
As visits to beauty parlours were supervised by strict mothers and were usually for haircuts only, we waxed our legs and tweezed our eyebrows at home, often with rather uneven results.
Resourcefulness was the key in our strategic preparation. One carefully purchased lipstick (after prudently saving on pocket money) would multifunction as eye-shadow and blusher. Shirts and T-shirts would be filched from fathers and brothers to give the fashionably appropriate ‘baggy’-effect on top of tight short skirts. Acrylic fabric paints were used to give old outfits a new zing. Hair-scrunchies would double-up as wrist-ornaments. And mismatched earrings (one dangler, one stud) were surefire eye-catchers.
Festivals would send us into flirting frenzies. The preparations were elaborate. Often, we would spend three hours dressing up for an half-hour jaunt. Much of the preliminary discussion would centre around who would be wearing what. Outfits were co-ordinated, but not duplicated. And it was all a friendly competition - we would help each other with the ‘getting ready’ businesss.
Armed to the teeth in an 'array of loveliness' (our natural loveliness considerably enhanced by the careful applocation of a whole lot of artificial aids), we would descend into the warzone of the battle-of-the-sexes. And then, the swagger in our strut and the covert, swift look back to see who noticed whom. The flutter of the eyelashes and the disdainful look away (if you wanted somebody to notice you, you ALWAYS looked AT and then AWAY).
Boys, hapless under the carefully-planned onslaught, would fall for our constructed charms like ninepins. We would sometimes do a tally on the number of scalps in our belts. Reverse feminism, in a way: we just regarded the poor fellows as so many notches on our victory registers.
It was all great fun, and completely frivolous. Serious relationships were few and far-between and would usually come much later in the day. For the rest of us, the ‘male gaze’ was enough.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? ANY ‘GAZER’ OR ‘GAZEE’ MEMORIES?