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Male Gaze / Literature

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  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, when Esmeralda is being taken to the gallows, Victor Hugo spends an inordinate amount of page space describing her "long black hair... more lustrous than the raven's wing," her "half-naked shoulders" and "bare legs," and her desperate attempts to hold her garment closed with her teeth.
  • In a lot of Lin Carter's works, (particularly Zanthodon) he'll often spend a paragraph repeating descriptions of all the naked or scantily-clad female characters' attributes every couple of pages. You could make a drinking game out of all the times he uses the phrases like "flawless breasts", "supple body", "luscious mouth". Doesn't help that they are often threatened with rape by pirates or savages every few chapters as well.
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  • A short story by French author Anna Gavalda centers around the Male Gaze. The protagonist, a single woman, goes to the bar in search of some fun. A man starts talking to her boobs, but she refuses to acknowledge him. He even switches language from French to English, before he thinks to look two decimeters higher. "Fancy that! I have a face, too!" she thinks, before telling him off.
  • Milton's frequent descriptions of the beautiful, graceful Eve in Paradise Lost.
  • Most of the female characters in the entirety of The Dresden Files, especially the many fairies and White Court vampires.
    Harry (narrating): One thing Spenser fails to mention is that the Faerie Queen has a great ass.
  • Elizabeth George is guilty of this in her book Careless in Red, where everyone, including the women make assessments of the women's looks by zooming in on their body type and clothing. This is where we get women doing almost pornographic descriptions of other women "as if to check out the competition", as George puts it although there is no man around. For some reason all the characters also seems to have the same standards of beauty, and write off women who are too fat or too skinny as impossible love interests for the victim, since "she could never be the subject of a young man's lustful gaze".
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  • John Carter of Mars is an officer and a gentleman. Except for a reference to Dejah Thoris' 'perfectly symmetrical figure' and an occasional 'bare shoulder' you would never guess he is surrounded by pulchritudinous damsels clad in nothing more than leather straps and jewelry.
  • In Lee Child's Without Fail, Jack Reacher's partner Frances Neagley has buttocks which regularly get noted approvingly (even by the book's other main female character). This actually proves to be plot-relevant. When they have a word with the man handling Secret Service surveillance tapes - who tampered with them as part of the plot to assassinate the Vice-President-elect because the people responsible kidnapped his wife - he's so nervous he never even notices Neagley's behind, which he would certainly have done otherwise.
  • In The Wheel of Time, so many of the main cast are implausibly beautiful, this happens a lot in-universe.
    • Happens to Min a fair amount. Other important female characters frequently call her breeches indecent, while themselves showing off vast ... tracts of land.
    • Elayne and Nynaeve roller-coastered this trope during their adventures. To the point of being unreliable narrators about it.
    • As usual for them, the Aiel completely ignore this trope, except in shaming "Wetlanders". Their sweat tents are co-ed.
    • Special mention to Birgitte, who wears high heels and wears pants in an era of corsets. After Birgitte ranted about how all of the Elayne's allies' houses sent children to help fight, Elayne's advisor points out that they have to work with what they have, others (including her) have survived similar circumstances, and then serves Birgitte:
    "... If you can't keep him reined in as Captain-General, I suggest you try walking for him. The way he was eyeing those breeches of yours, he'll follow anywhere you lead."
  • At one point in War of the Dreaming, Wendy and Galen enter the dream-world to consult with Prometheus. On "waking" up, Wendy demands to know why, if they are climbing a mountain, she is dressed in high heels and fishnet stockings. Galen starts to explain that it's his dream they are in, and this is how he always thought of-- uh, that it's symbolic.
  • In Shadowboy, the narrator is a Hormone-Addled Teenager, leading to moments of distraction, in particular when he first meets Pam.


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