Contents (Look and Gaze)

[This research was awarded Martin Chauthary Media Fellowship in 2006 and a full text of the report was published in the journal, Media Studies Vol. 1 (Nepali version). A copy of the journal can be found at Martin Chautary Library, Thapathali, Kathmandu. If you have any questions regarding the research, don't hesitate to contact the researcher (blogger) at kamal.sigdel [at] gmail.com ] [Copyright: Kamal Raj Sigdel]

Abstract (of the research)
Table of Contents (Look and Gaze)
Introduction: Criticism on Nepalese
Politics of picture and ad aesthetics
The male gaze
Psychology of looking
Voyeurism and fetishism
Power of gaze
Television commercials and the gaze
Voyeuristic gaze and fetish substitution
Disciplining individuals
Constructing active and passive image
What is the focus: Body or product?
Monopoly of male audience
Possibility of Female Gaze
Ideological formations
Conclusion
Works Cited

Abstract 1
Introduction 2
Politics of picture and ad aesthetics 3
The male gaze 4
Psychology of looking 5
Voyeurism and fetishism 7
Power of gaze 8
Television commercials and the gaze 9
Voyeuristic gaze and fetish substitution 10
Disciplining individuals 13
Constructing active and passive image 16
What is the focus: Body or product? 17
Monopoly of male audience 18
Ideological formations 19
Conclusion 20

Works Cited 21

Abstract (of the research)

Abstract
This paper explores into semiotics of Nepalese mass media, especially the television commercials which display a sort of obsession with portraying men-women relation in a manner that caters to male voyeuristic gaze. The structuration of the Nepalese television commercials shows how an all-pervasive psychological force gears to monopolize the audience of the television commercials -- i.e. the belief that only males are the audience -- by positioning the women characters therein as passive sexual objects who can only exhibit to-be-looked-at-ness and the male characters as the principal viewer.
This paper examines the Nepalese television commercials with the theoretical possibilities provided by the psychoanalysis, where the idea of voyeurism and fetishism are central, and the Focauldian concept of gaze, where the activity of looking images under certain spectacles provide privileged power for dominion over what is being looked at. The research thus takes on to explicate how the combination of these two effects in Nepalese television commercials leads to ideological formations.

Introduction: Criticism on Nepalese

Introduction
Of the scholars who have published criticism on representation of women and men in Nepalese print and television media, surprisingly few have examined the media's role in formation of ideologies, and of these few, none have dealt with the operation of "male gaze" in representation.
Particularly, most critics have ignored the fact that the media representations always present women's images with over invested sexual meanings not because of dominion but because of the "fear" that haunts a male every time he faces a woman. As a result, these critics have overlooked the critical possibilities, which arise when psychological forces operate to influence the media and society, and have therefore failed to uncover the underlying elements -- the voyeuristic and fetishistic fantasies -- that are guiding the posture and shape of images in the advertisements and are forming ideologies. Mass media, through continuous reinforcement and broadcasting of same advertisements formulate ideologies in society, because the ...
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... commercials taken as works of art, which in many respect, are similar to what other critics do while making criticism on films and fictions. This research, thus, begins by exploring the possibility of analysing how the culture of looking is operating in production of Nepalese advertisements.
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Politics of picture and ad aesthetics

Advertisements, be it photographic or videographic, tend to be more and more pictorial and glamorous as they all presume certain viewers whom, as Sangita Rayamajhi says advertisers want to “win” through the display of bodies and their parts that have associations with sex and erotica. Those audiences are won or overpowered by the power of pictures presented in the commercials as to attract them to a desired direction.

Advertisements and commercials share a large part of the mass media as they generate the largest revenue for operation of the media itself. Television has become a part of our lives and is all-pervasive in our present day society. None remains untouched by the glamour of media. Media have become the very powerful systems operating in modern society to the extent that they control society and its people. Indeed, media maintain strong nexus with knowledge and power as they have become the public domain. Media are the public, which views, observes and controls the image, and they are made up of pictures:
nowadays there is no physical public domain, and politics is not ‘of populace’. Contemporary politics is representative in both senses of the term; citizens are represented by a chosen few, and politics is represented to the public via the various media of communication. Representative political space is literally made of pictures – they constitute the public domain. (35)
So the pictures once introduced in the media, play a role of politics, for example, favouring some existing ideologies and reinforcing their norms and values through frequent broadcasting. A study of the photographs used in a Kodak’s photography guide Home Movies Made Easy, indicates how the Kodak film company has contributed to the politicisation of family life and formation of gendered ideologies through the treatment of images in media:
Kodak’s Home Movies Made Easy is one such guide, whose advice is summarized in ‘OUR FAMILY PICNIN’, starring Mom, Dad, Betsy and Butch, in a banal tale of travel, food preparation and consumption, playing games and clearing up. The family is cast in traditional roles; mother and daughter set the table and roast marshmallows, while Dad oversees the barbecue  ...
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ay nothing of picnic (48). The pictures in the public domain play certain role in changing society of the audiences, toward which the pictures or the visuals are directed. This indicates of the fact that the pictures and the visual images broadcasted in the public domain have certain power to control the society or the audience. The power of looking as described by Harltey has the power to control, objectify and define or categorize so as to put that in discipline. Such powerful look is near to what Jaques Lacan, Michael Foucault, and Laura Mulvey say “gaze.”

And advertisements are the actual platform where there is significant operation of looks with power -- or to be more precise the “gazes” -- that bring together media, commercials, body politics, power, knowledge and even the process of ideological formations, a unique politics of picture.

Before we explore the operation of “gaze” in Nepalese television advertisements, it is necessary to throw light on the difference between look and “gaze” .....

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The male gaze

There is a basic difference between look and gaze. To look normally means to have a normal sight of something that our eyes can catch. But gaze is different from look; it is more associated with power. Gaze normally refers to a stare, which means to look at something continuously without winking our eyes so as to carefully observe or dominate what is being looked at. It is natural that none objects or cares when we look people but everyone feels uncomfortable or even gets angry when we gaze them curiously. When a male looks at objects through this particular kind of gaze, it is normally called male gaze and when a female does so, it is called female gaze.
This normal meaning could help us understand how look and gaze are operational in commercials, the subject of study of this research.
When we look at an object, we see more than just the thing itself: we see the relation between the thing and ourselves. Some objects are intentionally made to be looked upon. While constructing the objects that are to be looked upon, a viewer is always presupposed. For example, if we take the trend of Nepalese television and print advertisements, in most of them a male is often, if not always, the presupposed viewer and the female are the viewed. The image of woman in those advertisements are portrayed usually as inactive, submissive and passive, or sometimes even shown admiring her own image in a mirror. All this is done to nurture the presupposed viewer's sense of possession and control.
The "portrayal of woman and her beauty in such a position offers up the pleasure for the male spectator" (Mulvey 5). So the male gaze here is the powerful look which can control and possess the images that are fearlessly looked at for his pleasure. But the spectator's gaze sees not merely the object of the gaze, but sees the relationship between the object and the self. He sees her as a creature of his domain, under his gaze of ...........[some sections missing] ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........

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................ ..........[some sections missing] ........... and talk in the screen cannot look back at the viewer and even if they look, they cannot come out of the screen. This privileged position gives the viewer a chance to fearlessly watch the image in the screen and gain pleasure. To understand how the gaze operates in media and modes of representation, it is necessary to understand the psychology of looking and the pleasure principle associated with the gaze.

Psychology of looking

Media are not new things. Its history is as old as the history of human civilization. The facility of visibility in human beings paved way for media of representation. Human ability to look and see things has been the central formative factors in determining the process of representation in relation to the human individual self. Behind this human impulse of looking, interpreting and representing things on their own relation -- that has been the base of all human knowledge till date -- there are some psychological forces at work. Psychologists like Jaques Lacan and Sigmund Freud including the 1970s film critic Laura Mulvey and postmodernist thinker Michael Foucault have presented some very convincing ideas on the dynamics of looking and process of representation.

Sigmund Freud, the first most influential psychologist, gave an insight into human unconscious when he defined human psychology as something not in the control of the self but as collective functioning of three conflicting forces namely: id, ego and superego, which led to the formulation of psychoanalysis. He divided human psychosocial development into three different phases in explaining how a child is socialized and how his psychology works. Freud believed that in course of socialization, every child must pass through the three different phases of psychological development: oral phase, anal phase and latent phase (Malson 17). When a child enters into the latent phase he realizes the sexual deference which contributes to the formation of what he calls “penisenvy” in female child and “castration anxiety” in male child which leads to “Oedipus complex”.
The fear aroused by “castration anxiety” in a male child is instrumental in our analysis of human habit of looking and interpreting things. Though the concept of “lack” in female psychology or the “castration anxiety” in male triggered by the same “lack” has been the subject of much criticism among the feminist theorists, this has been, however, a point of departure for many of them.
Freud’s psychoanalysis here functions as a basic theory for the interpretation of the operation of what we have been calling “the looking culture” or to be more precise the male gaze.
When a child is born, the sex of child is not noticed by the child itself. Since birth to a certain point of realization, both male and female infant grow up in same undifferentiated and engendered state. Both boys and girls take mother as “love-object” (Freud 299) and both share similar experience during oral and anal phases of psychosexual development. And it is not until “the phallic phase” of development that the two sexes begin to diverge psychologically:

During this stage, the penis or clitoris becomes the principle erotogenic zone, and physical differences thus become significant. For boy, phallic eroticism leads to phallic desires for the mother so that the father becomes an oedipal rival. Fearing castration by the father in relation for these desires, he renounces the mother as love-object, forming instead an identification with the father, thus taking up a masculine position. (Malson 13-14)
Then onwards, the child, especially the male one, whenever confronts a female body, begins to experience a “castration anxiety” that any time he could be punished.
The British critic and psychoanalyst, Laura Mulvey, takes this case of child’s “castration anxiety” to a point where he manages to overcome it through a powerful “gaze”, where the fear is transformed into pleasure.
Mulvey reaches to this point by taking up Freudian ideas through Lacan’s psychoanalysis. Sigmund Freud, in his Three Essays on Sexuality, invents a term "socopholia" to designate a component instinct of sexuality. "Socopholia," according to Freud is the pleasure a viewer gets from looking at other people or their images which are “under control”.
This pleasure of looking, as Freud says, is triggered by the situation where a viewer can, while looking, take other people as objects, and can subject them to a controlling gaze. Developing this idea, Lacan further interpreted the pleasure of looking as a narcissistic tendency prevalent in every child. He elaborated it through his mirror analogy.
When a child reaches to what he calls “mirror phase” s/he realizes his/her full identity in the reflection of mirror. (Lacan 898).
Jacques Lacan's concept of gaze emerged from this theory of the mirror stage, where a child sees itself in the mirror and misrecognizes it as the real "self". By viewing itself in the mirror, the subject at the mirror stage begins its entrance into culture and language by establishing its own subjectivity through the fantasy image inside the ..........[some sections missing] ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........

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................ ..........[some sections missing] ...........ook how this human fascination with image functions in actual life, we must observe our (or the common audiences’) reaction to images that we confront in our day-to-day life. More than anything else, the facility of visual documentation and observation made possible by the advancement of science and technology like cinema, advertisement and photography offers a number of possible pleasures to the viewer. This pleasure is associated with Lacan’s concept of “mirror stare” and the narcissism therein.

Voyeurism and fetishism

After constructing two different pleasures of looking, it is now much logical to dig into the human psychology and its subconscious processes that lead to the formation of “male gaze”. Psychologists have traced two major processes through which viewers generally derive pleasure when looking images in the screen. They are voyeurism and fetishism.
Jaques Lacan while describing “the mirror phase” indicated the possibility of two kinds of libidinal desires: one was narcissistic libido and the other was sexual libido. He said that it was the outcome of one’s universal desire or fascination with the beautiful and idealized image (in the mirror or anywhere) to which he or she always aspires. Lacan’s division of libidinal desire is therefore indicative of the two kinds of activities through which a child or adult could reach to gratification. The narcissistic libido and the sexual libido are identical to what Laura Mulvey called fetishistic and voyeuristic fantasy of male in watching images in screen or in the mirror.
Mulvey distinguishes between two modes of looking especially for the film spectator: voyeuristic and fetishistic, which she presents in Freudian terms as responses to male “castration anxiety”. I want to recall Mulvey’s observation on this subject here:
… in psychoanalytic terms, the female figure poses a deeper problem. She also connotes something that the look continually circles around but disavows: her lack of a penis, implying a threat of castration and hence unpleasure. Ultimately, the meaning of woman is sexual difference, the absence of the penis as visually ascertainable, the material evidence on which is based the castration complex essential for the organization of entrance to the symbolic order and the law of the father.
Explicating the castration complex that a female character generates, Mulvey shows how a male gaze being operational in overcoming it comes into effect:
… the woman, as icon, displayed for the gaze and enjoyment of men, … always threatens to evoke the anxiety it originally signified. The male unconscious has two avenues of escape from this castration anxiety: preoccupation with the re-enactment of the original trauma, counterbalanced by the devaluation, punishment, or saving of the guilty object; or else complete disavowal of castration by the substitution of a fetish object or turning the represented figure itself into a fetish so that it becomes reassuring rather than dangerous. This second avenue, fetishistic scopophilia, builds up the physical beauty of the object, transforming it into something satisfying in itself. The first avenue, voyeurism, on the contrary, has associations with sadism: pleasure lies in ascertaining guilt, asserting control, and subjecting the guilty person through punishment or forgiveness. (12-13 Mulvey)
There is indeed a unique situation in the act of watching cinema where audiences gratify their desires through identification. As Lacan has said, this is an inherent tendency in human beings to have fascinations with images which leads to voyeurism and fetishism.

Power of gaze

Up to now, I was stating that the gaze or the look gives pleasures and it gratifies libidinal desires in human being, especially the males. But the gaze also is a vehicle to exercise power; it gives power to the gazer. So, now, to gaze is to involve oneself in power politics.

To gaze is to have a powerful look, which can objectify the other person -- who is looked upon --, subject him/her to a curious stare, categorize, define and take control over him/her. The gazing activity, therefore, carries a sense of being objectified, subordinated, or threatened by the look of another (Brooker 90).

Foucault, who linked knowledge with power, related the gaze to discourse of power rather than to discourse of gender in his discussion of surveillance. Foucault focuses on how a “gaze” becomes a technique to utilize the power of looking into what is look at. He associates the “gaze” to the surveillance effect of a modern scientific camera.

It is interesting to see how power could be exercised upon the viewed through the gaze. Foucault’s panoptical prison is the best analogy where the prisoners are taken into control through a mechanism of looking/watching which enables the controller to see all the prisoners in their cell but disables the prisoners to see their observer while they are aware of the fact that someone is keeping a constant eye over them.

Functions of photography or vediography therefore can be seen in the context of Michel Foucault's analysis of the rise of surveillance in modern society. Photography promotes “the normalising gaze, a surveillance that makes it possible to qualify, to classify and to punish. It establishes over individuals a visibility through which one differentiates and judges them” (Malson 25).

In Discipline and Punish Foucault argues that the gaze of camera plays a central role in formation of disciplines among the viewed. In media, especially in the production commercials and advertisement camera plays the central role of gazing. This gaze of the camera thus produces the women's images in the perspective of male gaze. As Foucault stats the "examination" of the male gaze in the commercial advertisements plays central role in defining what is desired by the mass audience. The observation and examination of gaze:
introduces individuality into the field of documentation. The examination leaves behind it a whole meticulous archive . . . [it] places individuals in a field of surveillance, it engages them in a whole mass of documents that capture and fix them". (Malson 170)

This very observation, examination and categorization of the women's images through male gaze contribute to the formation of ideologies in the society because the mass media repeatedly broadcasts them.

The gaze of male in vediography and photography and of course in television advertisements thus retains a controlling power over the individual in focus or surveillance.

Television commercials and the gaze

It is now interesting to observe how these psycho-political factors associated with the activity of looking affect the production of media images. The pleasure principle and the power politics are discernible in almost all the media contents being broadcast in Nepali mass media. In the chapters below, I will be examining the operation of male gaze with some particular examples of advertisements taken from the ...........[some sections missing] ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........

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Voyeuristic gaze and fetish substitution

Television commercial is one of the most effective and powerful means of product advertising in today's world of media and technology as it provides possibilities for the use of both audio and visual effects to draw the attention of audience. When ultimate aim of the advertiser is to capture the psychology of the audience and draw his/her interest to consume the product, creativity is used to design advertisements with all possible visual and audio effects intermixed.

Creativity and the work of art or literature it creates, as Freud says, is associated with creator's conscious and unconscious desire. Most of the advertisements, at least Nepalese ones, are created by male designers. And the female designers also, if any, follow the majority. At such a scenario, it is obvious, even from observation, that most of the advertisements produced are influenced by the conscious/unconscious desire of the designer, i.e. male gaze. It is also because the supposed desire of the common audience is the central focus of most of the designers and that desire is what they try to exploit.
The advertisement designers in doing so take recourse to voyeurism. The spectacle provided by the television advertisements makes a safe and secure place for the voyeurs to take pleasure from looking secretly. The screen of the television is such a spectacle which distances the viewed from the viewer where the observer can look at the images in the screen but the images in the screen could not look back or disturb the observer. The advertisements that try to exploit this situation fall under this category of advertisements which victimize women’s images in the screen through voyeuristic male gaze.
The situation in television is likened to that of the darkened cinema hall, where the audience feels secure as the darkness distances him/her from the images of the cinema and other people in the hall. The more the position of the audience is secure, the more the possibility for him/her to get pleasure of looking images secretly. So as the darkness of the cinema hall, which is a public domain, facilitates voyeurs towards pleasure of looking, the television set and its privacy constitute necessary spectacles for voyeuristic pleasure.
Let's make an analysis of some advertisements where voyeurism is pervasive. Advertisements which cater to the expectation of male voyeuristic gaze could best be seen in soap advertisements. One of the advertisements recorded for analysis in this research is of a toilet soap named Citrus Lime. The audio version of the advertisement when translated into English reads like this:
Citrus Lime;
Freshness of Citrus Lime, each moment each celebration
A product of Mahashakti Soap. (My Translation)

As the audio narration of the advertisement conveys, the soap is designed to bring freshness. But this effect of the soap is contradicted by the image of woman presented (Clip 2). More than freshness the advertisement focuses in arising sexual desire to the audience through presentation of a woman in swimming costume. Besides, the advertisement’s focal point is on the fetish parts of the women, viz: exposed underarm, breasts, neck and belly. The woman is presented as a sexual object to be viewed by voyeurs. To supply a secure position for the voyeuristic male gaze, the woman is made to close her eyes while stretching her both arms upward so that voyeur could fearlessly watch her as there will be no possibility of her looking back. This is a necessary spectacle for creating pleasure of looking for the voyeurs, as voyeurs can only peep or secretly watch. In this advertisement, the "socopholia" or the pleasure of looking is the central force that is guiding the designer in its production.

Some advertisements like that of Mini Water Pump are explicitly affected by voyeuristic pleasure of looking. The advertiser to introduce a new product, Mini Water Pump, uses a scene of a woman bathing in her bathroom, a typical situation for peeping. The advertisement opens up with alight interior of a cozy bathroom and focuses on the back side of a naked woman (Clip 3), who is taking shower. An old man peeps into her bathroom and takes pleasure in secretely looking a beautiful woman bathing naked. Other men outside follow the first old man and start peeping, and in few seconds, whole villagers are peeping inside. The woman notices this and throws a bucket full of water through the same peeping holes and all of the voyeurs run away. With this scene the advertisement ends.
The visuals displayed in this advertisement do not have anything to do with the water pump, which is the product the advertisement wants to advertise. The sexual and voyeuristic images of the advertisement are used only to draw the audience's attention, which is nothing more than catering to the desire of male voyeuristic gaze.
Similarly, there is another advertisement of Rite Juce. To quote the audio versions of the advertisement the advertisement reads like this:
Every thirst demands, Rite juice.
Now available in one litter pack!
On buying one litter Rite Juice, a glass free! (My Translation)
This short audio visual advertisement of Rite Juice displays the image of a woman with wet hair and body which is accompanied by the above audio narration. Unlike the advertisement of the soap Citrus Lime, here the woman can look back at the audience also. But yet, the way she is presented together with the juice could be analysed as one of the effects of male gaze. It is a fact that the product, juice, has its consumer without regard to sex and gender. But the advertisement makes sense as if the males are only the consumer of the product. The women's image in the advertisement (Clip 4) is the major focus rather than the product itself. The image of woman is over invested with sexual meanings as if she is the metaphor of thirst, a sexual lust of male. The advertisement has presupposed only the male audience and it presents men and women in the perspective of male gaze. This as too clearly displays voyeuristic features.

The advertisement of New Liril Orange is yet another example of advertisements which have voyeuristic features. One may ask looking at the clip of the advertisement placed here (Clip 5): why she is exposing herself without looking at the audience? The answer is simple. Had she been presented with her look, there would have been fewer chances for the voyeurs to have pleasure of looking at her body. There would have been less confident spectacles for the voyeur’s pleasure. In other words, her looking back would have generated “fear” in the audience. The advertisement thus is in the perspective of male gaze. The woman is presented as a field of observation and her body parts exposed with over invested sexual meanings. She cannot look back, she is passive and so she could only exhibit to-be-looked-atness. Had she been presented with a look of her own, she would have her own identity. But the way she is presented rules out the possibility of acknowledging her identity. She is acknowledged in the advertisement simply as an object. As Sangita Rayamajhi writes in her study, Use of language in Nepali Press:
Even Kantipur Weekly, in spite of its exemplary write-ups, Q&A and opinion columns etc., the photo clips of women on the cover page and the blow up posters in the center page of some weeklies tend to devaluate the position of women in society. Women have been commodified to provide pleasure and hence increase the sale of the weekly. (34)
While images of women in magazines are commodified to provide pleasure, the marketing strategy is guided by voyeurism. The belief is that the pleasure of looking women’s body parts, is the demand of audience. This makes the magazines full of blow up posters that cater to male gaze. Same applies to the television commercials as well.

Fetishistic pleasure is the second central force that is guiding the structure and content of Nepalese advertisements. Advertisements that cater to male gaze are produced with the central aim of offering fetishistic pleasure of looking. Substituting certain objects or parts of body with fetish is the major tendency of such advertisements. The substituted parts are, in general look, “very inappropriate for sexual purpose, e.g. a piece of clothing or underlinen” but they bear relation to sexuality. Such substitutes are with some justice linked to the fetishes (Freud 297).

This psychological trend of making fetish substitutes in media is not uncommon in Nepalese context as well, for this comes with the power of unconscious and human desire for pleasure at looking. Dr. Abhi Suedi tresses this trend in multiple modes of media:
In many weeklies and newspapers young women's photographic texts become fetish, which is the feature of the female photographs produced by the male gaze. This feature applies to paintings as well where the concept of male gaze is very important subject of feminist interpretation of artistic works. (Subdi 15)

This feature also applies to Nepalese television advertisements where moving images of women are fetishisized. The advertisement of Kailash Tea, for instance, shows how the parts of body are used as sexual genitals. The audio version of the advertisement of Kailash Tea translated into English reads like this:

Golden earring, golden ring, golden top, golden Fulli and silver Pauju for myself, all in one tea. Thousands of prizes in purchase of Kailash Tea! Kailash Tea, changes your mood instantly! (My Translation)

The advertisement starts with the display of a meticulously made up women’s face, and as the narration proceeds, the camera shifts its focus gradually from one body part to another: on her fingers, her nose, her ears, her neck and lastly her feet (Clip 6). The advertisement exposes her feet intentionally to arise libidinal desires in the audience as the woman pulls over her Sarie to show her Pauju that she wore around her feet. The white coloured legs here are exposed as fetish, which are presented as substitute for sexual genitals. The advertisement thus fetishizes the feet/limbs of the women.

Disciplining individuals

Disciplining individuals
The male gaze that emanates from the oedipal fear or castration anxiety becomes powerful once it manages to overcome the fear. The gaze then tries to control and objectify the thing which is looked upon. As described in chapter 1, John Hartley terms it as “power of looking” which possesses the power not only to control and objectify but also, as Foucault says, to define, categorize and put object of gaze in discipline. The effect of male gaze is therefore somewhat similar to what Foucault says “surveillance”. In Discipline and Punish, Foucault states that “the examination’ plays central role in the exercise of disciplined individuals (Molson 171).

So, the voyeuristic as well as fetishistic pleasure of looking also leads to the power of imposing desired discipline in the individuals viewed. The advertisement of Dabur Honey is one such example. It is such an advertisement, which by effect of male gaze, is exercising the power in producing disciplined individuals. The advertisement presents a slim woman in the background. A male in the foreground comes to make compliments about the fitness of the dancing girl who stops to praise her body in the mirror. The male character, whose presence is not known to the girl, remarks, “she is quite fit”. The advertisement shows both the operation of male gaze and the way it is being operated. There are two layers in the advertisement: the girl is looking herself in the mirror to confirm whether she has become fit or not in the perspective of the male who is looking her and the male who is looking her making nice compliments about her body. This advertisement also reveals the fact that how the women look themselves in the mirror through the eyes of male. This is because of the dominating power of male gaze. The audio version of the advertisement reads like this:

Drop a dollop of Dabur Honey in your everyday glass of lemon juice and you’ll be surprised how healthy and active you can be. With Dabur Clip 7 Honey, the best thing to happen to your fitness diet can also be the tastiest!” (My Translation)

The advertisement with the effect of male gaze is producing disciplined individuals, especially women. The gaze here creates the binary opposition of what is normal and what is abnormal in the society and exclusion of the abnormal. In perspective of male gaze, not being ‘fit’ or thin is abnormal. The girl in the advertisement is watching her self reflection in the mirror. She is happy that she is now accepted as normal in the society. She is praising her own anorexic body (Clip 7). The act of observing her own image in the mirror with focus to each body parts reinforces that the ‘body’ is perceived not as an indissociable unity but as combination of different separate parts. And the shape, size, movements and gestures of the body parts are prescribed by the authority of male gaze as shown in the ad. The advertisement also makes meticulous observation of the girls’ body parts, presents them as ideal shapes and introduces a male to prescribe the hard shaped model for all the common girls to strive for. This type of gaze and observation of the female body parts give rise to a power “which functions through a multiplicity of minor processes of documentation; through supervision and the accumulation of detailed knowledge of the individual rather than the social body (Malson 170). Thus it is through such detailed surveillance and knowledge rather than violent physical coercion that human bodies are disciplined; are made intelligible, docile and useful” (Malson 170) The advertisement also displays the effect of male gaze in terms of producing images that intend to stimulate sexual desire while looking at objects of body parts that are over invested with sexual meanings. The advertisement has focused on the necked belly of the thin girl as it places the erotogenic part of the body almost at the center of the screen. This focus also clearly indicates the fetishistic substitution of the Clip 8 body parts and an intention of generating the pleasure of looking at the voyeur viewers. All this happens only in the operation of male gaze while the advertisement is designed or produced. Some of the advertisements affected by male gaze try to discipline the women.

The advertisement of Family Cooking Oil is one such example. The advertisement presents a family cast in gendered power relation where parents, husband and wife are given particular jobs that a patriarchal family harbours. The wife is given the kitchen job, while other members of the family are presented as the lords or directors who can complain and chastise the wife. The wife is required to be in the desired discipline, which is imposed by the males. For example in the ad, the wife must possess or learn that art of cooking food, which could meet the taste of the family. Her failure to do so is punishable. To make the advertisement more comprehensible, let me put the audio version of the advertisement translated into English:

Mother: What a bad food you cooked? Don’t you have the skill to cook tasty food? Father: How long will you scold the wife, may be there is something wrong with the oil. Son: Do not mind mother’s words. (The husband brings Family Cooking Oil from the market; the wife cooks in the oil and serves.) Mother: Delicious, how tasty food you cooked. Come Buhari lets have together. (The wife thanks the Goddess) The Goddess: Do not thank me, Thank Family Cooking Oil, Family mustard oil brings happiness in your family. (My Translation)

The wife is badly scolded for she fails to cook food to meet the taste of the family. The mother-in-law’s scold represents the violence against women meted out by the males. The wife sobs in grief (Clip 8 and 9). Her husband justifies the violence as he says, “Do not mind mother’s words”. He however helps her to avert the violence by instructing her to cook foods in Family Cooking Oil. When she follows the instructions, she is accepted in the family.

She is forcefully disciplined in the family, which however fails to have similar effects upon the women audience. The latter part of the advertisement further reveals the effect of male gaze. The wife had prayed her goddess to help her make tasty food and avoid any torture from the family members. When the food is liked by the family, she thanks the goddess but the goddess asks her to thank the Family Cooking Oil which is deemed to be the harbinger of happiness in one’s family. It is also revealed from the audio versions that the woman is there as a passive object who is silenced. Thus throughout this advertisement the male gaze has Clip 9 disciplining effect upon the woman who simply is presented as a bearer of male prescriptions and thus male gaze.

However, the advertisement is a failed attempt in terms of producing disciplined individuals in the society. Its effect is weakened by its contradictory effects. It is because on the one hand, it intends to attract more and more women towards using the Family Cooking Oil as it helps them avoid familial scorn and violence; on the other hand, it intends to keep the woman in the desired discipline.

The relation between the viewer and viewed in television advertisement becomes the important part for any artist. Each time we look at the images in the advertisement, we see more than just the thing itself: we see the relation between the thing and ourselves. Sometimes audience identifies himself/herself with the character inside the advertisement who could be looking another character inside. This relation gives birth to the power of viewer who imposes authority to define and categorize which is being viewed. The male gaze in advertisements takes on this very role of taking control over anything it focus...........[some sections missing] ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........

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in which the definition of fair and lovely are subject to the male gaze. The advertisement presents a submissive woman obsessed with the colour of her darkish facial skin (Clip 13). She is unmarried but waiting for a male’s proposal. She is presented as if her life is subject to male gaze. She is looked upon several times by several males, but none of them accepts her. She has been made a field of observation and of exercising gaze. To fit in to the desired category of the male gaze, she starts using Fair and Lovely, which is supposed to bring whiteness in skin. At a point, her fairness and beauty is once again looked upon and approved by a male, as it has now been made white with so much of efforts. Then only, a male’s gaze approves her fairness and agrees to marry her. The advertisement uses the power of male gaze and exercises it to look at a woman and define her fairness and beauty in terms of whiteness.

Constructing active and passive image

One of the effects of male gaze operating in the production of television advertisements is construction of active and passive images. Most of the advertisements have a tendency to fit into or create any of the binary opposition like male gaze/female look, male active/ female passive, male outdoor/female indoor, male earning/female spending etc. By creating such binary oppositions, the advertisements try to construct ideologies where one is preferred over the other. Most of the advertisements, in doing so, attach the negative attributes towards women characters. Dr. Abhi Subedi in one of his articles that review the photographs of young women published in Nepali newspaper writes that "in Nepal there are no such magazines that feature women's bodies in any bold manner"(18) and their passivity is so expressive in the photographs that "several of these young women in their efforts to show their bodylines in an expressive manner, look like sculptures"(18).

This passivity also applies to television advertisements. The advertisement of NB Bank Grihini Bachat present a woman with her backside turned towards the audience (which is also a situation as desired or required by the voyeurs). The advertisement’s aim is to encourage women towards saving. Contrary to the aim, the advertisement seems more preoccupied with the effect of arising libidinal desires on the male audience. The focus of the advertisement is on the bare part of the woman’s neck and arms (Clip 10), so the face of the woman is not seen while her entire body is seen. More importantly, the advertisement places the woman in kitchen and presents her as a passive and domestic object. The advertisement thus presents an image of woman who without her face is the passive bearer of the look or the male gaze. The special scheme targeted to such passive Clip 10 “grihini” and the way her image is presented is contributing to construct the active and passive images with regard to sex.

This particular advertisement could be more fitting to have a comparative analysis with the photographs in Kodak Film’s photography guide Home Movies Made Easy, of which John Hartley in his book Politics of Picture did analysis. As the photographs in Kodak’s guide allocates active and passive roles to members of a family, the advertisement of NB Bank functions to cast women as passive and sexual objects.

The advertisement of Agrino Premium Rice is another example of the advertisements that portray active male gaze which the passive female receives. The advertisement presents two characters, one male another female. The male gazes the Clip 11 female while the female never looks back to the male. She is simply a passive bearer of male gaze (Clip 11). The advertisement thus tries to create active and passive images in the screen by presenting a biased man-woman relation. The reason is that the advertisement is produced in a way that caters to the need of the male gaze.

The advertisement of Shakti Oil displays the effect of male gaze in terms of producing images that portray women as bearer of the look of men. The advertisement displays several characteristics that are typical to male gaze. Firstly the female character barely speaks and looks other characters and the audience. The male with a sense of possession and control directs his gaze towards the woman (Clip 12). As Clip 12 given in the picture the effect is clearly visible in the woman being looked at. She feels controlled and weaker while realising that she is being looked at by a man. The audio version of the advertisement translated into English reads like this:

Children: Shakti ! Children: What is Shakti? (Six years ago, in the day when prospective bride had gone to look prospective bridegroom.) Mother: (to the girl) If you have to say anything, please speak. Boy: What oil did you used to cook the food? Girl: (Shyly) Shakti. Children: (Jokingly) Mummy, which oil do you use in cooking? Shakti pure refined soybean oil, our family, our Shakti! (My translati...........[some sections missing] ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........

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ok at the audio version of the advertisement also, the woman character who is exposed as a passive bearer of look is not given a chance to speak, she is silenced. Neither is she given a chance to look at others. Her eyes are looking down. The speakers are mostly males who can look and both of their looks and words are directed towards the woman. The question of the would-be-husband “what oil did you use to cook the food?” to the would-be-wife is characteristic of a male gaze trying to impose his preferences. The woman is taciturn who just replies “Shakti”. The latter part of the advertisement shows how she is, in the sixth year after their marriage, still following the preferences of her husband expressed at the time of their engagement. All these devices in the advertisement are employed in a bid to shape the advertisement in perspective of male gaze.

What is the focus: Body or product?

While the advertisers think that they are improving themselves and their artistic capabilities in presenting any product in more attractive way, the audiences are getting more confused to determine whether they are advertising certain characters or the products. Advertisers are seeking to be more and more competitive in attracting audience towards the product of which they design advertisements. There are different ways of taking people’s attention. The easiest and simplest technique is to provoke male gaze.

One such advertisement is that of Mini Water Pump, which, because of the influence of male gaze, have created confusion for the audience in understanding what actually is advertised: product or the human body. The advertisement of Mini Water Pump simply ends with presentation of a notorious case of a male peeping into a bathroom where a woman is bathing. The advertiser wanted to draw the attention of the audience towards the product, but in doing so the advertisement goes astray as the women’s bathing overshadows the whole episode and the product becomes invisible.

The advertisement of Haldi Bari Tea is one such example, which reveals why the Nepalese television advertisements present images that make it confusing for the audience to identify the relation between the images presented in the screen and the product of advertising. The advertisement of Haldi Bari Tea starts amazingly with a woman’s bare waist part as a central focus. To a normal consumer of any type of tea, there is in fact, no relation between the waist of women and the taste of tea. Though there is no relation between the two things, the advertisement meticulously displays the bare waist part making it ridiculous for the audience to look at. But if we look at it from the psychological perspective, it can be deduced with certainty that the use of such irrelevant thing in advertising a tea comes from the effect of male gaze that the designer harbours. It is presupposed by the advertisement that the audience are something like the voyeurs who are attracted by the sight of a woman’s back part. And once they are drawn by the “pleasure of looking” secretly at the bare waist part of a woman, as it is supposed, immediate display of the tea would also catch the audience’s eyes. This is something like luring the voyeurs to a dark and secret place and suddenly showing a product so as to attract them in consuming it. All this irrelevant images come together in the advertisements simply because in their making, male gaze is overpowering...........[some sections missing] ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........


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................ ..........[some sections missing] ...........of Mero Mobile where a woman is presented with a mobile phone in her ear is a typical example of the type of advertisement, which arise confusion. The major focus of the advertisement is on the white teeth of the woman than on the service of Mero Mobile. This characteristic is common in most of the advertisements. For example, the advertisements of Rite Juice, Citrus Lime, CocaCola and New Liril Orange have given emphasis on the women’s body parts instead of the product itself. This makes audience confused in determining whether the piece of advertisement is advertising any toothpaste or the teeth of the woman or the woman herself.

Monopoly of male audience

Are there any female viewers to the pictures presented in the public domain like media? The answer is ‘no’, at least for Nepalese context. In her research report, Use of language in Nepali Press, Sangita Rayamaghi concludes, “the political leaders and male only have usurped the press” (37). This statement supports that there is male hegemony in Nepali mass media and the advertisements broadcasted therein as well. The hegemony of male audience has not only controlled how human bodies should be presented in media but also eliminated the entity called “female audience”. Because of repeated broadcasting of the “pictures with male gaze”, the female audience in the society began to identify their “self” with the same “male gaze” and enjoy looking together with males, which is an effect of ideology formulated/nurtured through the same media. So all the pictures here, be it the Nepalese cinema, telecerials, advertisements and commercials, have in mind a coherent male audience.

For instance, watch this commercial of Pepsi, which is like a poster of Karina Kapoor, a Bollywood Star. The advertisement designer is guided by his own way of attracting audiences that people will be attracted to look at the advertisement because of the beauty of Karina Kaapoor if her certain body parts are over invested with sexual meanings and that they will also see Pepsi bottle in the side of Karina. Thus an audience, caught up by the beauty of the woman will latter buy a bottle of Pepsi. I find, in the ad, how the designer is already in the trap of male gaze and picture politics it creates. The designer supposed that the audience, are indeed only males who are supposed to be attracted by the body of Karina and this “weakness” apparently seems to be exploited by the crafty advertiser. What led the Pepsi Company to design this particular advertisement is, of course, the all-pervasive male gaze. And the advertisement without any hesitation approves the monopoly of male audience. Another such advertisement is that of Rite Juce, where the advertiser uses woman as a means of attraction for exclusively the males. The juice has its consumers both males and females, but the advertisement overlooks the female audience and...............[some sections missing] ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........


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................ ..........[some sections missing] ...........s of Rite Juice, Citrus Lime, Liril Orange have used women characters but at the same time they have designed them for men. In other words, they have forgotten that the women themselves are also their consumers. About 50 percent of their consumers should be women. But when male gaze is operating in the making of the advertisements, there is always the monopoly of male audience. If we look at the advertisements which are believed to be advertising women consumer’s items, we find that there is also the dominance of male gaze. For instance, take the advertisements of Family Cooking Oil and Shakti Soyabin oil where the women are supposed to be the target audience. In these advertisements also what we see is the dominance of male gaze, as women are presented there as passive objects to be “liked” or “disliked” by males upon observing them. In these advertisements, women are not allowed to look back at the males within the story of the advertisements and also the audience watching them. Therefore, who is supposedly watching them carefully is, of course, a male.

Possibility of Female Gaze

Possibility of Female Gaze
Unlike men, women are thought to represent a threat - in Freudian psychoanalytic theory, the threat of castration. The threat is however experienced by the presupposed male viewer upon looking at the women's images. So this threat is overcome, for example in cinema, by the narrative which either victimizes or fetishizes women.
The male gaze is therefore always active trying to mastery over the threat-reminding female body. So the "female gaze" is always subordinated and limited to an identification with the woman being looked at. Moreover, the hegemony of male gaze has such an effect that even if a female designs any advertisements, she does it according to the existing patters and according to the expectations of males. For she presupposes that the audience are males. This could also be proved by the fact that there are no advertisements where male characters are portrayed as a passive bearer of female look.
This situation rules out the possibility of any kinds of significant "female gaze" that could influence the making of visuals and photography in cinema or television.
Similarly, the existence of female gaze is also ruled out because, male are often, at least in Nepalese context, presented not as a bearer of female gaze but as a perfect and ideal ego, a macho figure. Let me explain it more, as described by Laura Mulvey.
In looking, according to Mulvey, pleasure is derived in two ways. One way is through socopholia which arises from using another person as an object of sexual stimulation through sight. The other is through "identification," where the ego outside identifies with the one in cinema. While the former one is more associated with sexual pleasure, the latter one is close to nostalgic reminiscent of the pre-subjective moment of image recognition and to narcissism.
In narcissism, one takes pleasure by looking at the screen image (or mirror image as in the version of Lacan), which is regarded by the viewer as an ideal ego or the role model which the viewer aspires. So the activities however glamorous of the male protagonist are not viewed as the erotic activities of the gazed object but as activities of a more perfect ego that is identified.
So the process of getting pleasure through the system of socopholia involves separation of egos (one of the viewer and the other of the viewed) and that of identification involves merging of two egos. The first is direct socopholic pleasure second is fascination with the character in the screen and identification which is indirect.
So the spectator too can possess the woman whom the character of the screen posses. Besides, the female viewers are subject to identify with the male gaze and take part in the activity of watching as a male.
So, had there been the presence of female gaze, there would have been man’s images presented as a bearer of look. Most of the advertisements in Nepalese televisions have portrayed male figure in a way to reassure the controlling gaze rather than evoking female gaze. Very few advertisements have imagined women as their audience or as the target of their attraction, even if they are meant for the women ...........[some sections missing] ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........

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................ ..........[some sections missing] ........... is however, a single advertisement, collected here as an example, in a daily newspaper The Himalayan Times December 12, 2005. It is the print advertisement of Frenchie, men's underwear, where there is a caption in the advertisement that reads, "Women resent being treated as sex objects SOMETHING TELLS US . . . men won't have any such problems . . ." Apparently, it seems to have a female gaze (clip 1), but it neither by its visual aspects nor by its words printed as caption present the male figure in a way that could facilitate or cater to the female gaze.
The possibility of the existence of female gaze is however undercut by the man’s bold facial expression and his look. Unlike the advertisements with male gaze, the male character in the advertisement does look at the audience with certain power to counter the female look.

Ideological formations

The ultimate effect of frequent broadcasting of advertisements that cater to male gaze is in forming ideology in society. Media images, in today’s world of mass communication, do have powerful impact in the psychology of audience. This was the very reason why the scholars like Theodor Adorno and other hard-boiled Marxist like Antonio Gramski rebuked the debilitating effect of media in capitalism. However, here the concern is on how the commercials in mass media lead to ideological formations rather than on its positive and negative effects. Helen Malson in her The Thin Women describes how the images of women in magazines contribute to discursive production of gender: One discourse that both converses and diverges from romantic discourse in its construction of the thin body is a ‘be more beautiful’ discourse promulgated in women’s magazines, where physical beauty is frequently presented less as an aspirational ideal, more as a holly commandment. In these texts beauty figures as a state of salvation achieved through ritualistically following the “step by step” instructions, the day-to-day diets for beatification. (111) In some advertisements, though there seem to be apparent absence of men, the male gaze remains always active and operating. In the advertisements like that of Dabur Honey, the males are seen to be directly taking part in displaying the effect of male gaze. At such cases the gaze of the male character within the advertisement is identical to that of the outside male audience. The male audiences of such advertisements tend to identify themselves with the male protagonist within the ad. But in the advertisements like Citrus Lime and Rite Juice, male characters are absent yet they are supposed to be watching the women’s

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bsence of men from this discourse does not, however, necessarily signify their lack of importance here. It may be that being heterosexually active is so culturally important that it goes without saying that woman’s beautifications is for men. Nevertheless, the apparent absence of men from this discourse does also emphasize the extent to which physical appearance constitutes an integral part of femininity so that narcissism becomes the explicit norm in the pages of women’s magazines. Thus, whilst feminine beauty remains equated with thinness, the pursuit of this ‘ideal’ is presented as a form of selfcare rather than a means of attracting a man. Whilst within romantic discourse the thin/anorexic body signifies a traditionally heterosexual femininity, within this ‘be more beautiful’ discourse it signifies a more self-possessed woman who is beautiful ‘for herself’ rather than for another. This latter ‘reading’ of the thin female body cannot entirely escape patriarchally imposed meanings, but it does suggest the possibility that body sustains a variety of meanings, not all of which conform to patriarchally defined ideals of ‘femininity’. The disciplinary power of discourse about the body is produced thorough the entanglement of these different discourses through which the multiple meanings of fat or thin bodies continually slip. And it is within this entanglement and slipping of significations of ‘the body’ and ‘the women’ that alternative and often contradictory meanings are consolidated. (Malson 112)

Commercials’ effect of ideological formations is in society is also backed up by our television culture. For instance, take again the television as a “medium”. Since it is a medium, it is also a message. Marshall MacLuhan in his The Medium is the Message says that medium is itself a message because it always affects and distorts the message it conveys. In today’s television culture, we watch TV everyday and it has become a part of our day-to-day life. Every time we watch thousands of images flickering in the screen. In most of the houses, television set is turned on at seven in the morning and left on all day. At this, the audience never becomes aware how the images of the television control them - consciously or unconsciously. The frequent broadcasting of same type of commercials gradually forms and nurtures desired or intended ideologies. Mother becomes a “mass women”, and father becomes a “mass man” and children “mass children”, where “mass woman” watches the television while she is at home, and “mass children” watch it when they return from school. The whole family views it for a few hours in the evening. (Van Doren 372).

Conclusion

From the arguments and analysis made so far it can be concluded that commercials in Nepalese televisions are guided by the influence of overpowering male gaze. The overwhelming presence of male gaze has subordinated and neutralized the possibility of female spectatorship. Resulting monopoly of male gaze in television commercials and other media contents possess the authority to make definitions and produce meanings thereby contributing to a process of ideological formation in society.

Central to all these effects in television commercials and the society, who views them, is the voyeuristic and fetishistic impulses in the psychology of the advertisement designers and producers. In an effort to overcome the castration anxiety and fear, the voyeuristic creator or viewer takes recourse to either voyeurism or fetishism thereby victimizing the individual images. In this overcoming of fear most of the advertisements victimize women’s images or present men-women relation in the manner that satis.......................[some sections missing] ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........  ...........

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................ ..........[some sections missing] ........... takes control over the images in the screen, it starts defining and categorizing them and thus producing or attaching meanings in them. Thus with this process, meanings are produced which in collective scale lead to ideological formations.

Works Cited

Beauvoir, Simone de. The Second Sex. Trans. H.M. Parhsley. London: Jonathan Cape, 1953.

Brooker, Peter. A Concise Glossary of Cultural Theory. London: Arnold, 1998.

Butler, Matilda and William Paisley. Women and the Mass Media: Sourcebook for Research and Action. New Work: Human Sciences Press, 1980.

Chataut, Aarati. Electronic Media in Gender Lens. Kathmandu: Sancharica Samuha, 2004.

Doren, Charles Van. A History of Knowledge. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992.

Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. London: Penguin, 1977.

Freud, Anna. Sigmund Freud: The Essentials of Psychoanalysis. Trans. James Strachy. New York: Penguin Books, 1991.

Hartley, John. The Politics of Pictures. London: Routledge, 1992.

Lacan, Jaques. “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed

in Psychoanalytic Experience”. Critical Theory Since Plato. Ed. Hazard Adams. New York: Harcourt, 1971.

Malson, Helen. The Thin Women. London: Routledge, 1998. McLuhan, Marshall and Quentin Fiore. The Medium is the Message. London: Allen Lane, 1967.

Mulvey, Laura. "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema." In Mulvey. London: Routledge, 1989.

Rayamajhi, Sangita. "Use of Language in Nepali Press". Kathmandu: Across Publication, 1999.

Sigdel, Kamal Raj. "Legitimizing Disparity." The Kathmandu Post 14 July 2004: C1,

4. - - - . "Chauvinistic Ads." The Kathmandu Post 18 Dec. 2003: C1, 4. 20 Dec. 2003

. - - - . "Gender Insensitive Ads." The Kathmandu Post 11 Oct. 2004: C1, 4.

Subedi, Abhi. "Male Gaze, Bodylines and Dreams", Across. Kathmandu: Across

Publication. May 2002. 15-18

Thapa, Manju. Women in Media. Kathmandu: Sancharika Samuha, 2004.

- - - . Women in the Media. Kathmandu: Asmita Women's Publishing House, Media

and Resource Organization, 2002.

Tuttle, Lisa. Encyclopaedia of Feminism. New York: Arnold, 1991.

Look and Gaze

By KAMAL RAJ SIGDEL
(Published in The Kathmandu Post, May 28th, 2004)
A game of chess, power politics, disequilibrium of tri-ode, regression ... one hardly agrees with another in interpreting current shifting tides of politics in Nepal. Whom to believe? Nobody speaks seriously.

I hardly sleep these days. Being a so-called well aware citizen, I keep on wondering and even pondering at this deadlock, trying to dig into the bottom of the problem and its solution.

Last night, as I was rummaging through my books dumped long into an old container, I happened to see a book by Foucault. I grabbed it immediately and started reading. I felt as if my quest ended at him. I had consulted all of the books—philosophical, political, economic, fictional and even psychological—at my disposal, but none of them solved the riddle. It is only when Foucault convinced me in his “The Eye of Power” that the King and political parties are playing a game of “Look and Gaze”. It is in fact a very interesting interpretation for the present power politics in Nepal.

When I read it, I sat with solace and found that all are making fuss with royal consultations while the reality is something else. Had there been Foucault for consultation he would have certainly written another book “The Problem of Look and Gaze in Nepali Politics”. Being much aware of all these pantomime shows in Daura Suruwal dress-ups, I am thinking of supplementing Foucault. But I do not know whether this deadlock will last till I finish reading the book.

It is quite interesting to see the trap of “Look and gaze”. The King has a curious “gaze”—often the daily newspapers capture him in this angle— and the political leaders feel that they are being looked upon.

While in receiving audience with the King, the political leaders always have a mere “look” and the King always has a controlling and dominant “gaze”. At that time the King’s gaze is somewhat of the “male gaze” while the emaciated leaders pose their “female look” with their anti-regression cadres in a momentary pause outside the Palace (perhaps waiting for some miracle to happen).

Once they come out of the Palace and intermingle with the Dionysiac mob at Ratnapark, the relation goes topsy-turvy. Here the leaders swell up like balloons, pose upright as if they are at the top of the world.

This time they have really a powerful and dominant “gaze” at the king. The crowd, chanting the slogans of republic, feels that the King must “look” at them tenderly.

(Original link: kantipuronline.com/kolnews.php?&nid=12314)

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