"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Video Chatting and the Male Gaze

So far, I've seen two of these new iPhone 4 commercials featuring the device's video chatting capabilities, and I'm really struck by how both of them feature someone who's male reassuring someone who's female that she looks okay.





In a culture where girls and women spend such large portions of their lives feeling self-conscious about how they look and feeling scrutinized by the male gaze, it's interesting to think about the types of political consequences face-to-face video chatting technology might someday have for women.

6 comments:

HeatherAurelia said...

I had just watched that commercial. Well, actually it's always on. I am more mad at the fact that the commercial is showing just women/girls being upset by the way that they look. But you, know I guess we all should be like that.
That's a very interesting question. I don't know.

Cristy said...

I have two thoughts about those:

1. Why aren't people making a bigger deal out of this "leap" to seeing the person you're calling?? Wasn't this like sci-fi not too long ago? That seems weird to me. I knew it would happen soon w/web cams and iPhones, but I thought it'd be surrounded by a lot more hoopla. Anyway...

2. To your point, I think there will be (if there isn't already) a "block video" command and/or an "avatar-type placeholder" for when you don't want them to see you.

I also think that it will lead a lot of women/girls to move from "not stepping out of the house til she has her 'face' on" to "not answering the phone til then." I think you're right that it will affect women, particularly teenage girls, negatively in that aspect.

Tracey said...

Good points.

Cristy - I've been thinking the same thing. Do you think it's not getting the attention you would think just because people have already been able to do video chatting on their computers for a while? I feel like having this on phones is pretty revolutionary, though. Or, at least, it will be when more and more people have access to it.

I definitely think it will make talking on the phone a bigger deal for women in our culture. And even if there's the possibility of blocking the video, girls and women will always be in the position to have to defend why they don't feel like being seen.

Unapologetically Mundane said...

I'm mostly just mad that they didn't cast me for that first commercial. Although they would've had to find someone else for Kamran, because he would've been like, "So what?", and the whole point of the thing would've been ruined.

Already someone sent me a Craigslist ad where the company was offering women iPhones to keep in exchange for chatting with men using this technology.

Tracey said...

Seriously!? Gross!

Anonymous said...

seems as though too much stock is put into the commercial advertisers aren't that smart (imo) they showed a father telling his daughter that despite braces she looks beautiful(whats wrong with that) and a guy reasurring his GF about a new (cute) do (again nothing wrong with that) but I do wonder what this will do to our culture I feel it will put even more(unneeded) emphises on appearance...