Permission to see

One face, one voice, one habit, and two persons, A Perspective, that is, and is not.

William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, v., i., 224

I watch a woman on a bed.

Scratch, glitch, break.

Like so many other women on so many other beds, this woman makes love. We watch, practiced in our cultural habits of viewing, reading the woman’s body as the site of the sex that takes place. We have seen her so often presented in dominant culture as the prime terrain of visibility and we know how to view her as the passive, malleable emblem of desire. She is the landscape “seen through” the keyhole or the aperture or the eyeball, and according to the tenets of perspectival viewing, which is to say with Erwin Panovsky, the tenets of modernist ...

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