The raping gaze
Feminist theory speaks about the male gaze as the act of depicting the world from the masculine/heterosexual point of view, presenting women as objects of male desire. This gaze has a violent version where women appear through this lens directly as prey (an even lower category than of objects). This gaze tear apart life, vitality, power from the victim. One of the most poignant descriptions of this, came a few days ago when Prince Harry spoke about dealing with the death of her mother. He said:
"I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with is the fact that the people that chased her into the tunnel were the same people taking photographs of her while she was still dying on the back seat of the car"and
"She had quite a severe head injury, but she was very much still alive on the back seat. And those people that caused the accident, instead of helping were taking photographs of her dying on the backseat. And then those photographs made their way back to news desks in this country."
Feminists, like anthropologist Rita Segato, argue that rape is a power crime through sexual means. In this sense, not only women are subjected to it but anyone whose power wants to be denied through a violent act, who is forced to take the submissive, passive position in what is often a public display of power (with witnesses or performed by a gang). Humiliation, sexual humiliation, nudity, exposure, inflicting pain, demonstrating that there are no limits to the power is the basis of torture. In the pictures of Abu Ghraib we, viewers, are seeing the raping gaze in action. Rita Segato, through her studies of rapers in Brazil, concluded that rapist see themselves more often than not as moralists. They see their act as a disciplinary act over someone who deserved to be put in place, to reinstate an order that was being broken. Internally, this order is higher than the law itself. But this "morality" the raper is enacting does not come up from nowhere. It is sustained by images and concepts that build up the ideal of masculinity, femininity, power, otherness, justice in society. Anything that is considered "normal", is normal through a gaze.
A racist gaze assumes white men are virtuous:
They try to create empathy towards the murderer:
This gaze is what is under discussion in this conversation between Trevor Noah and Tomi Lahren:
In this world where we are being confirmed the whole time "we are right", and not only that where ideas are being charged with a heavy emotional weight and an encoded morality of individual freedom, conversations become more difficult.
In the first part of the entry, I argued that cities cannot keep the same idea of God as in Villages, because the collective gaze (the gaze of the neighbour) is not ever present. Cities grant a level of privacy to its citizens (there are areas where this gaze is blind to), is absent (some sort of God forsaken place), never existed, or comes back as a new personal God that looks at you in a more personal level, responding to the atomised structure and individuality of urban life. We should not expect a positive response from a neighbour or a supporting community. We are alone in our problems and should deal with it with self help techniques.
Cities offer a more diverse view than a village. More people and more diverse people live together, share public services, bump into each other in public spaces, etc. In a city we see more and we are more invisible. Our neighbour is quite busy. The collective gaze does not have time fore us. We've been abandoned by the collective gaze. However, technology is coming to the rescue. This gaze directed to us individually is being incarnated by Facebook and Google and their algorithms acting like the new gatekeepers. We all know that different people will have different results with the purpose of offering relevant content. That means there is someone up there in the cloud thinking about what we need (oooohhhh, isn't it touching?). This personal God is recreating a virtual village (made up by friends or even friend with whom I agree) where I find normal what my virtual village finds normal. Technology is recreating through relevance the old village gaze, what's now called a filter bubble, a womb where we feel safe. This, of course, became a hot topic with two surprising election results. Brexit and Donald Trump. People in cities (in particularly) were surprised with the results of the election. They discovered there were tons of people "out there" that have different views that were not "visible".
The problem with the infatilizing effect of relevance is that this blindness is not very far way of considering a different view "not normal" and start to use the power gaze or even the raping gaze to make it shut up to reestablish the order of the virtual village. It was in the context of Brexit that I was part of a discussion where young people were arguing in favour of qualified voting for example claiming that people without university degrees should not vote, and idea that is deeply antidemocratic. Our construction of the collective gaze, relevant and heavily bias, gives us as a result a new God that is happy to punish and banish all who disagree in order to keep Eden/Egypt in order. As individuals we are no longer sustaining and constructing collective freedom. For this reason I claim in the part 1 of this entry that freedom is in danger.
Against the social fracture
Love and freedom are connected concepts. Love is the not castrating limit of freedom, it is what allows power to show self-restraint in order to not impose itself and to avoid breaking the bond. It is easy to be free (in a very elementary way) alone, with no relationships and other interest to consider. Enabling each other's freedom within a bond is much more complicated.
And even if those conversations happen, they don't necessarily lead to anything better. In an era with access to what it seems infinite amount of information, information has been found to polarise audiences even more if they are used to disprove our inner beliefs.
Our gaze, our vision of God
Even though in cities "the collective action" is present everywhere, we might not see it. We open a tap to get water we did not pump, we buy a salad or a tomato we did not plant, we did not watch grow, we did not water, we did not collect, we walk on floors we did not lay. Still we feel the absence of the gaze. The one that looks at us and "sees" our needs (something beyond the needs for water, and food, and infrastructure that we now take for granted). We are recreating a village with a more conservative god than in the old testament (it feels). The tension in the village is that it is both Eden and Egypt. Like being a child can be Eden and Egypt. A paradise and the place where we are slaves and we want to escape from. But being dependent (of others, of the collective infrastructure, of our employers, of our country) is not the same as being slaves and being independent is not the same as being free.
Going back to the initial argument in part 1. If we step back and remember that collective freedom is about all of us authorising everyone to be free and we go beyond and we confabulate to get out of ourselves every once in a while to help others overcome the restrictions they find in their way. Our gaze is our vision of God, how the collective should order itself. The difference of the village god and the city god is the subjectivity. In the village, individuals are the town, the people, a collective that tends to deny the individual. In the city, the subjectivity is that of an individual, that tends to deny the collective. Our gaze should start to see both, the individual and the collective, and become active supporters of the collective because it is only in this acknowledgement we build freedom.