Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Tender Male Gaze: A response to Ian Brown's piece in the Globe a few weeks ago

A few weeks ago Ian Brown wrote a piece in the Globe and Mail ( defence of the male gaze. It depressed the shit out of me and I wrote him this letter.

Dear Ian Brown:
In response to your article, I found it incredibly disturbing that a 58-year-old father of a 20-year-old woman felt the need to defend the male gaze.

So much fellow feeling for the sterling gentlemen of your acquaintance (a lawyer no less!) and, none, beyond the blindingly obvious, for females.

How terribly journalistic it was for you to ask a few women if they mind being looked at!

I'm sure you have at some point in your life turned on a TV, looked in a Globe and Mail fashion section, or been in a public space in a North American city... not to mention taken those easy Internet excursions you allude to... and yet you and your editors, journalists in Canada's number one paper in the 21st century, allow yourselves to take it all at face value.

Allow me to be clear, do I think deriving harmless cheer from checking out pretty women is a problem? I don't.

Do I think that a man of your age, with a wife (I presume you still have one) and a daughter, in your position, taking up space in the national newspaper to defend the "male gaze" is disgusting and pathetic? I do.

Ian Brown, I wonder, has it ever even once crossed your mind how the women in your life might be affected by the "male gaze" that passes for normal commercial enticement in our culture?

We live in a culture that is routinely and systematically brutal to women. Why don't you write about that Ian Brown? Ever discussed that with your excellent pals and editors? Perhaps you could consider doing your wife and daughter a favour and ask yourself why not?

58, privileged, intelligent, articulate, family man, the father of a 20-year-old woman and a severely disabled son, and yet you seem to have absorbed not one tiny shred of empathy.

I have admired your writing in the past and I found this article profoundly depressing and exhausting. If someone like you can't figure it out, Ian Brown, what a deeply troubled world we live in.

Sincerely, Tasha Diamant.

I also want to share this great video response to Brown's piece from a very articulate young woman:

And I want to share this trailer for the excellent documentary, Killing Us Softly 4, as a primer for Ian Brown, his lawyer friend, and the billions of others out there for whom a few facts may help them begin their journey to empathy:


  1. Way to Be, Tasha.

    I want to add that I have a problem when 60 yr. old men are looking at women in their late teens / early 20's and sexualizing them. Younger women of course ARE sexual beings, but when the pairing of men in their 40s, 50s and 60s is such a cultural epidemic / norm ........ I feel disgust and boredom.

    Here's to the MEN (even tho both the vids you included are Vital Voices & Gorgeously Spoken) who OWN their own behaviour & honour Women and All Life enough NOT to use lazy, underdeveloped excuses.

  2. (cont)
    These Allies lift some of the weight of the revolution off of women's shoulders.