“The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages” – Virginia Woolf
As a personal instrument of power, eyes are used to control and manipulate individuals. Humanity’s dominant ways of seeing shape perceptions of reality and selfhood and thus the eyes become “prisons” for victims of scrutiny.
In a patriarchal society, this form of suppression is established by the male observer as women are confined to the notion that men are the supreme spectators.
Although it is often perceived that ideology transforms the female into a figure of male imaginings, the human eye is the tool whereby male fantasies are established and then displaced onto the female body.
The human eye is the essential element to this process of turning women into products of the male vision, as societal power operates due to humanity’s awareness of seeing.
Since the eye crosses the threshold between the internal self and the external world, this optical device is a form of communication. The two-way process of vision, seeing and being seen, empowers the male gaze to construct a perfect image of the female form that enables the male observer to transform this idealised being of femininity into reality.
As the male eye captures the female figure, she is suspended in this web of male fantasies.