Emily Ratajkowski: ‘Women fantasize about watching themselves through a male gaze’


Emily Ratajkowski covers the June issue of Marie Claire, and like so much of Emily’s real-life styling these days, the editorial definitely has a ‘70s vibe. To be fair, I could see Emily being a big deal in the 1970s. She looks good in high-waisted pants, she looks a bit like Ali McGraw, and she seems to be stuck in the ‘70s wave of feminism too. Emily chatted with Janet Mock for the interview, and it took place shortly after Emily suddenly married Sebastian Bear-McClard in February. You can see the full cover package here at Marie Claire. Some highlights:

On her wedding suit: “When you don’t have a real wedding, it’s for you. I wore what I wanted to wear. It really felt like the outfit that was most me, and that made me feel good.”

On announcing her marriage on social media: “I actually thought there was a chance that no one would find out… I am still getting used to fame. I forget, you know.”

On the criticism that her marriage won’t last: “People came after my marriage, like, ‘Wow. I give it three weeks.’ I’m like, ‘What?’ No one can take women seriously on any choices that they make, especially if they’re unique to them and they don’t play into the way we think women should get married. It’s a constant writing-off.”

On being taken seriously in Hollywood: “It’s actually something I’ve thought about a lot without ever saying seriousness in my head. I care a lot. I think I freak people out sometimes going into meeting with Hollywood producers…with f*cking guns blazing. I had something to prove, and it had very little to do with my acting ability or the way I looked. It was about the Take me seriously. Look me in the eye.”

On body confidence: “Boobs are funny. They hurt sometimes, and sometimes they’re the thing that makes me feel most powerful. They’re a key to my sexuality. They’re all those things.”

On what feminism means to her in 2018: “We grow up in this patriarchal, misogynistic culture, and women fantasize about watching themselves through a male gaze. But if a woman decided that she likes herself in a gaze, and it makes her happy, should she feel the burden of where that comes from? I don’t know the answer. That’s now what feminism is about. It’s freedom of choice. Do what you feel like!”

On her definition of activism: “I struggle with the label of ‘activist’ because I’m struggling with what activism means in 2018 in general. I want a radical left, and I don’t see it…I was hopeful that with Trump coming into power there would be this drive to radicalize. I’ve seen lot of people, no offense, wearing pink hats and posting it on Instagram and thinking that they’ve done something good for the world, and I just don’t think that’s true.”

[From Marie Claire]

Her answer about feminism is… not great. I’ll give her this: she knows enough to know that she doesn’t have the answers, and what she describes – women watching themselves through the male gaze – is one SMALL part of the conversation we have about feminism and the politicized female body. But it speaks volumes about Emily that she was asked about feminism and her first thought was to defend her choice to post nudes to her social media. As for what she says about a hope for a radical left in the era of Trump… I sort of agree, I’m surprised that there isn’t a larger conversation of “burn it all down!” I think it’s because Trump-Republicanism is SO far to the right that you can be a “moderate” Democrat and it feels like you’re a diehard communist.

Last thing: she’s sort of right about how women are taken less seriously when they do something stupid like marry a guy after only dating a month. That being said, um… her marriage isn’t going to last.


Photos courtesy of Thomas Whiteside for Marie Claire, sent from promotional Marie Claire email.

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70 Responses to “Emily Ratajkowski: ‘Women fantasize about watching themselves through a male gaze’”

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  1. SM says:

    Judging her marriage to a shady guy she just met has nothing to do with her gender, it’s just common sense – it’s not going to last.
    As for that male gaze comment, I guess I do not have enough time to worry about something like that

  2. minx says:

    Someone keeps trying to make her happen. They should stop.
    She also doesn’t look quite as luminous as she used to…wonder if she is on something.

    • Kitten says:

      She is so freaking annoying. On one hand, I get what she’s saying about Pink Hat Activism but on the other hand it’s like “ok, lady-who-thinks-she’s-gonna-save-the-world-with-her-big-boobs.”
      Like WTF is SHE doing that’s so helpful to the left? Oh, and choice feminism isn’t really helpful.

    • Mumbles says:

      As Wendy Williams would say, “Who is this woman?”

      I had to read the title of this article a few times and then read the article excerpt and I still have no idea what she means.

  3. QueenB says:

    “Choice feminism” isnt feminism.

  4. OriginalLala says:

    Seeing yourself through the male gaze is literally the patriarchy, and misogyny. ugh

    • otaku fairy says:

      Not necessarily. It’s about balance between the two extremes that are forced on women. On one side there’s the pressure on a woman to go against their own boundaries, desires, and beliefs in for men, and on the other side there’s pressure on a woman to prioritize not turning men on/ appearing a certain way to them over a woman’s own boundaries, desires. and beliefs. They’re both two sides of the same coin that put a man’s potential response to women over what women do or don’t want.
      What she seems to be getting at is, can we move on from those two extremes when it comes to desire and women?

  5. grabbyhands says:

    God, how does she keep getting press? Who is even checking for her?

    This is about the zillionth interview where she just rehashes the same thing – it’s like, super hard to be pretty and have boobs. But I’m like totally strong because I like showing them off and stuff. But women shouldn’t fantasize about seeing themselves through a male gaze, which is totally not something I ever do or pander to.

    And this is the most offensive paragraph – “I’ve seen lot of people, no offense, wearing pink hats and posting it on Instagram and thinking that they’ve done something good for the world, and I just don’t think that’s true.” Please enlighten us on what exactly you’ve done to further the cause of feminism for anyone, because literally all I see from you are a bunch of dead eyed photo spreads where you say the same thing over and over again, which is that people can’t handle that you like sex and topless selfies.

    I wonder who is funding her and trying to make her happen?

    • Swack says:

      I don’t care how many nude selfies/pictures she does – her decision. But that is all she is known for and nothing else. She really needs to expand her education and point of view(s).

      • Milla says:


        Exactly. I don’t see Angelina as a woman who posed naked or semi naked. I see someone who’s hard worker in various fields.

        And there are many other examples. Among models as well. Look at Christy turlingron, she did nudes, than got a degree and she has her own charity.

        This woman is projecting. She’s the one living from male gazes.

    • Kitten says:

      “I wonder who is funding her and trying to make her happen?”

      Ben Affleck? I don’t know. But whoever unleashed this hell needs to be thrown in jail.

    • Rachel in August says:

      This ^ ^. And Emily, what good have YOU done for the world? Just asking …

    • Wren says:

      Even though you don’t like her, she’s not actually wrong about that. Plenty of people made a big show of protesting and had a good time and all feeling like they were doing something, but then they went home and congratulated themselves instead of doing any follow up work. Not that it isn’t important to show up to protests, it is. But it’s equally important to keep fighting, keep donating to the groups who are fighting, keep voting, keep harassing lawmakers, keep speaking up, and so many got their cute selfie and went home and did none of those things. We’re so quick to turn around and point the finger back at a woman we don’t like. “Well what did YOU do, miss smarty pants, how dare you say such things harrumph harrumph.”

    • AsIf says:

      “But women shouldn’t fantasize about seeing themselves through a male gaze, which is totally not something I ever do or pander to.”
      that’s not at all what she said though. I get why you don’t like her, but you still can’t just make stuff up. she said:
      “But if a woman decided that she likes herself in a gaze, and it makes her happy, should she feel the burden of where that comes from? I don’t know the answer. That’s now what feminism is about. It’s freedom of choice. Do what you feel like!”

      she acknowledges in a way that she serves the patriarchy, that she panders to men. but it’s alright because it makes her, personally, happy. I, personally, think choice feminism is diluted, stemming from a fear of becoming too “extreme” and therefore don’t agree with her, but at least she acknowledges her MO and faults in her brand of feminism….

      (it’s funny though that she thinks 2018 feminism is about if we should look sexy for men or not, while I thought it was more about…not being sexually assaulted, you know)

    • magnoliarose says:

      The language of feminism is not always easy. An interesting article about what I see as Emily’s issues surrounding feminism.
      Emily’s choice to be naked all the time is all hers but there is nothing feminist about it. She is making a choice for herself but that act does nothing to further anything for women in general. It doesn’t mean she isn’t a feminist in areas of her life but it means some of her choices clearly are not in 2018.
      What I don’t like is her hiding behind feminism to do what she wants to garner attention from men without even discussing with seriousness the fact that as a pretty white woman she has the privileged position to do so. How brave. How about a larger 55 year old woman of color who hasn’t had plastic surgery or botox? NOW that woman would be making a provocative statement.
      Emily prefers to be hot. Fine. But she is no Annie Oakley in business meetings. FFS talk about overkill.

  6. Red says:

    It’s ironic because while I agree on her stance with certain “activism” lately, that is how I see her as an activist and feminist. Just completely shallow on both subjects. Why does she keep getting covers? She’s just as dull to me to as Kendall Jenner.

    • Darla says:

      I really don’t agree with her. I haven’t worn one of those hats, it’s not my thing, and I have been on the streets in nyc in front of trump tower, protesting, and at jfk when he installed the muslim ban. But…many of the women who are into the pink hats, they’re older women. Not all enjoy great health. I had an extended family member dying of metastasized breast cancer and she wore the hat, and posted pics. It was what she could do. You know, yesterday on Soap twitter (yes, there’s a daytime soap twitter, lol), one of the kids (13) from general hospital posted some political nonsense, which may have been ghosted by his mom, not sure…anyway, a lot of the other actors defended him. One of them, Tyler Christopher, posted one of the whitest posts I’ve ever seen, “i don’t support this or that, get over yourselves and take your political bs somewhere else!”

      So when you have spoiled, arrogance at that level, from 3rd tier daytime actors, incredibly physically fit, who could do anything, and you compare that to maybe a 65 yo woman, who wants to do something but can’t get in the streets, I say post that pink picture and thank you!

      • Kitten says:

        I really appreciate your perspective on this. At this stage, I do think that collectively, we need to do more than just symbolic gestures–but maybe that should be left to those of us who are young, healthy, and strong. If someone is ill or older and wearing a pink hat is the only way they can participate and show solidarity, then that’s great too.

      • Darla says:

        Kitten, with this child camp thing going on, anyone who can do more, has a moral responsibility to, IMO. I’m going crazy because I’m away on vacation and TODAY there are protests nationwide at detention centers. I’ll be at the next one though. IMO we need mass civil disobedience on this. I’m willing to be arrested. This is Nazi germany stuff here, and it’s happening right in front of us. But though I’m not too young (50) I’m healthy and in decent shape. I do feel for older people who want to, but fear violence or police or whatever. I think it’s a scary time and anything could happen.

      • Red says:

        @Darla & @Kitten, I do agree. I know that for some people, that might be all that you can do because of your health, financial status, etc. And that’s fine! Do what you can! I was really just focusing on those who have the option to do more, don’t, but then call themselves activists or wonder why nothing has changed. I see many able bodied, privileged, young people doing so and it has started to ruffle my feathers a bit.

      • Darla says:

        Red, I agree with you.

      • Kitten says:

        Completely agree with you both. TBH, I’m not super-wild about the protests (I hate crowds) but I go for my boyfriend because it’s meaningful to him and makes him feel like he’s doing something instead of just bitching on Twitter. He’s also ALWAYS calling his reps and donating. He does all of it.

        Oh, and I’ll tell you this: even if I’m not always gung-ho about the protests, I NEVER feel like they were a waste of time. They are meaningful and they matter. The protests that are occurring around the country today send a strong message of hope and solidarity to the mothers and children who are being separated at the border and held in detention centers. It shows them that we notice, that we CARE, and it also gets the attention of Reps and Senators. We are watching. We know what’s going on and we want it to change.

    • Wren says:

      I agree Red. I’ve got some in my own social media feeds. They love posting inspirational platitudes and pictures of themselves at protests and that’s about it. We changed the world, look how easy that was! Um, no, sister. The real work lies ahead, in your day to day life. No, we don’t have the power to effect change as individuals, but together, voting with our dollars and our ballots, we can effect immense change. But if you’re content to wave a sign and then go back to your life without examining anything else you do to perpetuate the problem, or heaven forbid fail to vote, you did very, very little.

      • Kitten says:

        But I don’t know how you can look at one picture on social media and somehow know that they’re NOT doing all the things you’re saying they should do, though.

        I go to protests. I also call my reps and senators. I also vote. I also donate to campaigns and charities.

        It’s actually possible to do all of those things. You might not care for protests–that’s entirely your right–but they do draw attention to the concerns we have in Trump America. They also bring together people to fight for a common cause. The feeling of unity and the reassurance that many people are fighting for the same things is really important in a fractured and divisive America.

      • Darla says:


        This is happening today. If you cannot make a protest, these are all actions we can take right from our computers between noon and 1pm est today.

      • Wren says:

        A good friend who posted a bunch of snaps of herself and others at protests also openly declared she was not voting because she was tired of the political robocalls she got every day. Another friend looked at me blankly when I asked if she planned to vote in the midterms.

        So no, I don’t know the actions of each and every one of my friends, but if a few out of my own (very small) circle believe that protests is where change begins and ends, how many others are out there like them?

      • Darla says:

        omg Wren. That is really bad. I tell all my friends if you don’t vote, don’t talk to me. They vote. Or if they don’t, they lie about it. But I am pretty certain they do.

  7. littlemissnaughty says:

    This is news to me. But then my boobs don’t define my sexuality either.

    • Kitty says:

      Lol I was going to say the same. I could care less how men see me physically, least of my worries

    • Veronica S. says:

      I think there’s a fair point in how woman are raised to frame themselves as objects for male pleasure, which can be difficult to break away from, but uh…she’s a traditionally beautiful woman. Her beauty privilege gives her the illusion of choice. She can enjoy the gaze because she can believe she’s benefiting from it. For the rest of us, the oppression is just that.

      • Valerie says:

        yeah, this is what I was getting at with my reply, that we’re raised with certain (skewed) values. But you’re right, it’s not as if she’s ever had difficulty meeting that standard. I don’t say that bitterly either, it’s just that she checks off every conventionally hot box, and has never known what it’s like to not be thought of that way.

  8. Gigi LaMoore says:

    I respect her right to be as informed or as I’ll informed as she wants to be.

  9. Snowflake says:

    I’m so sick of seeing her. She gets on my nerves. She’s certainly made the most of her 15 minutes though, that’s for sure.

    • Louisa says:

      I’m with you snowflake…. I don’t care WHAT she thinks about anything. She has shown us over and over who she is…. not who she “says” she is. She’s annoying, boring and completely inconsequential as anything other than a nude Instagram model

  10. Enough Already says:

    These comments are peak 2009. Sad.

    • magnoliarose says:

      Aren’t they? Not even thoughtful or show a mind working through it actively. It is fine to get it wrong but not evolving shows just how empty she really is.

  11. mina says:

    I like her lol

  12. JennyJenny says:

    She makes my teeth itch….
    Her 15 minutes need to be over.

    • me says:

      She’s on a new show that will be airing in the fall I think. It’s on a big network too.

  13. Veronica S. says:

    Her problem is her beauty privilege. It’s easy to think of feminism as a choice when the world treats you like a puppy because you’ve got a nice rack and pretty face.

    I know that sounds cynical, but honestly, I’ve just had a my fill of attractive white women telling the world things aren’t so bad. It can be that bad for women who are fat, who are non-white, who are disabled, who are mentally ill, who are a myriad other things that can overlap with sexism to make your life a little bit shittier. Look who’s in office, what that says about America and how America feels about women and minorities. These people literally have the power to dramatically impact our lives, and they consider diversity a detriment to the world. That is some scary shit. As far as I’m concerned, post your pink hats on Instagram. Post all of your pink hats if it makes you feel a little less helpless. You should also go out and join a progressive org afterwards, but don’t even waste your time caring about what women like Emily R thinks of you.

    • Tvtg says:

      I think you nailed her response is as problematic as feminism only geared towards white women . Emily is going to an ugly wake up call once she realizes how society and men in general treat women they no longer deem fuckable

      • Nibbi says:

        whoaaaa now THAT’LL be a wake-up call, the poor dear.
        hopefully by then she’ll have found other ways her “choice” of how she exists and what pleases her can be satisfied.
        i don’t mean extensive plastic surgery

    • magnoliarose says:

      No joke. I am past tolerating women like Emily. Seriously. She could effective because of her privilege but instead she is a self absorbed woman basking in her role as male arm candy and talking out her ass to make it seem important.
      Sure her naked body opens doors but only the ones douchebags choose for her.

  14. jwoolman says:

    Sorry, Emily, but YOU fantasize about watching yourself through a male gaze. Not every woman does. It’s part of your work and so it’s much more on your mind. You’re in a business that focuses heavily on your body. I’m not.

    And people have to do what they can and not wait until they can do more. Wearing a pink hat on Instagram does help, if that is what you know you can do. Anything that normalizes protest helps. A few words said in a conversation may help more than getting arrested at a huge protest. We don’t know what will make a difference that actually changes things, so we have to follow our own hearts and do what feels right to us.

    • Darla says:

      Good points. I think it can be difficult to confront our families or other circles. Who is to say that if all us post about one thing, say the children and the camps, on our facebook pages and state unequivocally that we want answers from the trump voters in our lives, that does not cause ripples? I don’t really know. I only know that to remain silent is a sin in these years, it just is. So whatever you can do, even if it’s posting a picture, or if it’s posting about your broken heart when you see these children on your facebook, right in trumpsters faces, then that’s a ripple.

      Those of us who can do more, need to more and will do more. We will do more.

    • Valerie says:

      Not proud to admit it, but I have fantasized about the same thing, and I think many women do, whether they are aware of it or pleased about it. I don’t think any of us have not encountered some kind of pressure to fit a ‘traditionally feminine’ mould.

    • Veronica says:

      I actually don’t think she was saying that when you read it in context. She’s saying that’s what women are raised to believe they should be, and I agree with her to some extent. But it loses a lot of power coming from somebody who is openly benefiting from that male gaze.

  15. Wren says:

    As much as I dislike her and find her shallow and boring, the male gaze thing was actually interesting. It was something I did when I was younger without realizing it, simply because women are indeed trained to see themselves in that light. Wasn’t “get that cute boy’s attention” not a feature article in every single teen magazine? What about female representation in movies and other media; they were the love interests, mere objects, a sentient trophy awarded to the hero at the end. It didn’t ever matter how the woman saw herself, what mattered was how the hero saw her. You take that in and internalize it without realizing, because you see it so often it’s “normal”.

    So I’m not inclined to scoff at her for that. It’s a very real thing and a very real problem. How many other, often incredibly subtle, things fall under that category? It’s good to examine where your motivations for doing a certain thing or looking a certain way come from; does it truly come from you, or were you told that this is a good way to think/act/look/be? Because if it’s the latter, guess where that probably came from.

  16. Jenns says:

    All I know is that she is in the Daily Mail every day (for real) with different nude or semi nude photos and while she had every choice to take or not take the photos she likes, they are definitely for the male gaze. She may like the male gaze (as she says in the article), but it feels less like a woman’s choice to make female nudity/body normal/unsexualized and more like trying to make fetch happen. I also think that if she’s gaining followers and fame that way, she can’t complain that people only focus on her sexuality, as she has in the past.

  17. Tvtg says:

    I thinks she gets too much of her value from her looks. That really not a good thing and once it stops she realize what feminism is really about.

  18. perplexed says:

    I think now the social media activism thing might sort of work because Trump is addicted to Twitter. If you tweet out against him, it probably hurts his ego. Do I think this would work with someone like Obama who is more likely to have his nose pressed to a book rather than a cell phone? No. But with Trump, the social media tweets probably make his head explode.

  19. Valerie says:

    I don’t like her and I hate to say it, but I think she’s right. So deep is our conditioning to always appeal to men at every level, emotionally, physically, socially, (but especially physically), that a lot of women gear their behaviour toward that, even unconsciously. We are brought up with certain beliefs, and even if we’re fortunate to have parents who don’t push gender norms, we’re still going to encounter them and either cleave to them to some degree or feel the pressure to at some point.

    That doesn’t mean that you cave to that pressure and dress or act to please men, but I think it crosses all of our minds. Even as someone who isn’t straight, I’ve thought, “If I dress/act like this, will it make me appealing in a conventional way?”

  20. Anastasia says:

    I don’t really know who she is, but I’ll say this: I found that comment on women seeing themselves through the male gaze to be incredibly insightful–for myself. It’s so true, and I never thought about it that way before. Damn. It gave me a LOT of food for thought.

    I got engaged after just two weeks. We’ve been happily married 27 years. Why write her off? And if she does get divorced, who cares? I hate the notion that divorce = some kind of personal failure. Marriage is HARD. And I think we do judge women more harshly for getting married quickly than men. Hell, we judge women more harshly for just about every damn thing.

  21. Tw says:

    Her lips look like they hurt. I don’t understand why she would do that. She has naturally full lips. She’s cartoonish now.

  22. Jay (the Canadian one) says:

    “But it speaks volumes about Emily that she was asked about feminism and her first thought was to defend her choice to post nudes to her social media.”

    Or maybe it just speaks volumes about the kind of criticism she gets on the regular?

  23. unmade_bed says:

    Nothing could be farther from the truth! This makes me think so much less of her. What kind of woman would feel that way?

  24. Sharon katz says:

    She is an absolute idiot. Always talking about her boobs. Who cares!!

  25. jferber says:

    JWoolman, I agree. How can she be the spokesperson for all women? I have NEVER fantasized about seeing myself through the male gaze. Not ever. Maybe because it’s her bread and butter to be desirable to men and it satisfies her vanity and pocketbook. She is beautiful and for a woman, that buys you a lot. The great Shelley Winters wrote, “All doors open for a beautiful woman.”

  26. Janice says:

    I feel like it’s only me, but when she’s talking about “through the male gaze..” I’m like ‘WTF are you even talking about?’ I don’t conceptually get what she means. Does she mean that women post pictures that they think will only appeal to men??

    In that case, she’s really generalizing…I’m a straight girly-girl female, and even I like seeing pictures of the woman’s form – at the very least, from an artistic or sometimes motivational perspective – more than the naked male form in pictures (which almost always seems a little too intimate/ over the top to me).

    Not to mention, isn’t it commonly said that a lot of women tend to think more about what other women think of them, rather than men? I feel like when I’m a little out of shape, men will be more forgiving of my looks than other women.

    Other than that, good for her if she’s happy and living her dream life.

  27. Naddie says:

    Male gaze is a plague. When I fantasize about this, it’s when I know I need more therapy.

  28. WendyNerd says:

    I think what she’s talking about is actually the narcisstic gaze. It’s sort of like what she’s speaking of— except it is more in the vein of women appreciating femininity overall. A good exploration of this can be found in basically anything Anna Biller creates.

  29. Spirit of Atwood says:

    “Male fantasies, male fantasies, is everything run by male fantasies?

    Up on a pedestal or down on your knees, it’s all a male fantasy: that you’re strong enough to take what they dish out, or else too weak to do anything about it.

    Even pretending you aren’t catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy: pretending you’re unseen, pretending you have a life of your own, that you can wash your feet and comb your hair unconscious of the ever-present watcher peering through the keyhole, peering through the keyhole in your own head, if nowhere else.

    You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman.

    You are your own voyeur.”