An older Canadian woman has written a newspaper column in which she admits that she misses the male gaze:
Men don’t look at me the way they used to. In general, they don’t look at me at all. This is what happens when a woman turns 40 (50, 60 etc.). It’s a fact of life.
In theory, this is supposed to be an exhilarating passage in the life of a woman. At last we’re liberated from the tyranny of the male gaze! We don’t have to care what men think of us any more. We’re free to be our true, authentic self. We can wear a red hat.
In reality, it sucks. I’d give a lot for men to look at me like that again.
She reminisces of her youth:
...on the whole, being gazed on was not at all demeaning. It was empowering. I was the one in charge, because the choice of how to handle any given male’s response was entirely mine. No matter how sexist or unfair it seems, no one in the world has more erotic power than a 20-year-old girl.
It's not just erotic power but a kind of sexual power. A woman's sexual power is at its peak in her 20s; men's tends to rise as they hit their 30s.
It matters a lot, both for women and for society in general, how women choose to use this power. The preferred traditionalist option is for women to leverage this power when it's at its height in order to get the best husband she can.
That's good for society because it leads to timely family formation and gives young men a reason to make adult commitments. It's good for individual women because it means that they don't have to settle in a rush when conditions aren't as good and because it means that women can then build up ties of loyalty and love with a man that will hopefully see them through to their later life - so that they don't have to feel the invisibility that the Canadian writer is experiencing.
Another thought: the system of monogamous marriage that feminists and liberals are so busy demolishing keeps a woman's sexual power operative for much longer than it might otherwise do in a state of nature.
If men believe that monogamous marriage is good for society and themselves, and agree to abide by it, then they can only look to their wives to provide the kinds of things that are so important to men's sense of well-being in life: not only the physical relationship but the larger romantic and emotional relationship with a woman.
So whereas feminists claim that women are closing off their sexual power if they marry young, in most cases such women are extending it into middle-age and beyond.
(Final thought: it's a pity to have to discuss relationships in terms of power - that's me capitulating a bit to liberal thought patterns. It ought to be the case that young men and women seek love and find the highest expression of this love in a faithful relationship.)