✯✯✯ Mulvey Male Gaze

Monday, June 07, 2021 1:02:39 AM

Mulvey Male Gaze



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Media Studies - Laura Mulvey’s Male Gaze / Feminist theory - Simple Guide

Mulvey is best known for her essay, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema", written in and published in in the influential British film theory journal Screen. It later appeared in a collection of her essays entitled Visual and Other Pleasures, as well as in numerous other anthologies. It was Mulvey who coined the frequently used term 'the male gaze'. Men do the looking; women are there 'to be looked at'. Mulvey distinguishes between two modes of looking for the film spectator : voyeuristic and fetishistic, which she presents in Freudian terms as responses to male 'castration anxiety'.

A term coined by feminists in response to the claims made by Mulvey that the conventions established in classical Hollywood films required all spectators, regardless of their sex, to identify with the male protagonist and to adopt the controlling male gaze around which such films were held to be structured. Ultimately, the male gaze is a social construct that we can disarm by recognizing it and choosing to either tolerate or ignore it—or intentionally take it on and recalibrate it as your own, co-opting its power to define your sexuality, agency, and worth on your own terms.

Like many buzzwords, it is often misapplied — but not so in the case of Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which is unmistakably made from a female vantage point and with a feminist sensibility. The female gaze , or how a woman sees herself, was created as the opposite of the male gaze. Offset Image by Cavan Images. The female gaze was created as an antithesis to the more prominent male gaze. Although the term originated in film specifically, it has since carried over to other forms of art. Eye contact makes you more self-aware. The researchers believe that we become more focused on ourselves and aware of our behavior when others are looking at us.

That is where self-consciousness heightened by eye contact can actually work for you. You can also use your eye contact to heighten self-awareness in others. Movies such as Rebecca and Stella Dallas are examples of such films in which the traditional narrative is told through the female protagonist. This genre of film has evolved into modern day "chick flicks" such as 27 Dresses and The Devil Wears Prada. In theory, a queer gaze would deconstruct such gender-based power dynamics, changing not only the object but also the intent of the male and female gaze. The male gaze is a manifestation of unequal social power, between the gazing man and the gazed-upon woman; and also is a conscious or subconscious social effort to develop gender inequality in service to a patriarchal sexual order.

The male gaze is something that society, even beyond feminist circles, is finally beginning to acknowledge Train yourself to see the gaze everywhere. Be Vocal. Talk about it. Be Active. Turn the Magnifying Glass into a Mirror. Mulvey's main argument is that Hollywood narrative films use women in order to provide a pleasurable visual experience for men. While some aspects of these portrayals may be seen by some as powerful, sexual, or beautiful, they also stem from centuries of visual objectification of women for the pleasure of men.

Ultimately, the question is not whether or not girls and women should be able to wear, pose, or represent themselves in whatever way they want—the answer to that is a resounding, yes. There should be no shame in dressing provocatively and owning your sexuality. Plus, it can be argued that there can be an element of reclaiming their own bodies when girls and women purposefully choose to take on this guise.

Particularly, when they are doing so intentionally while fully aware of the history. If embodying this look truly makes them feel good about themselves—and they are doing it without altering their authentic selves or acquiescing to the pressures of the male gaze, then that may be a healthy way to express and celebrate themselves. However, what critics of the male gaze may wonder is why do they want to pose and dress in this manner? Maybe it's just for fun, or to experiment with their burgeoning sexuality or identity or trying on a role.

But what is the underlying motivation? Who are they dressing for? Who is consuming these images and what do they see when they look at them? Does it reinforce or challenge the idea of the female form as an object to be had or as a stepping stone? What do the girls and women in the pictures and videos and in real life envision and who do they imagine watching them? These are big questions that often don't get much attention. However, that doesn't mean that these issues aren't at play—whether it's consciously or subconsciously.

But the accumulated impact of living under the male gaze does more than simply alter how a girl poses for the camera, the types of characters they see in their favorite TV shows, or how it feels to them to be seen out in the world. In fact, the objectification of women and girls has profound mental health impacts—and social media has become a particularly potent method of disseminating the reach of the male gaze. Studies show that increasing incidences of depression , anxiety , loneliness, low self-esteem, eating disorders , self-harm , and suicidal ideation are related to female objectification. If you or a loved one are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at for support and assistance from a trained counselor.

If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. Interestingly, a study entitled "Fathers, daughters, and self-objectification: does bonding style matter," found a strong link between negative eating patterns and body shame in girls who grew up with highly attentive and overly protective fathers. Awareness of the influence of the male gaze is key to freeing yourself of its power. Simply considering its pervasiveness and influence may offset a significant amount of its impact, allowing you to see yourself and function in the world simply as you are, without relegating yourself to the supporting role.

Focusing on and seeking out depictions of women and girls that run counter to the stereotypes of the male gaze also may help to shatter its hold on our collective psyches. Ultimately, discarding the weight of worrying about being seen, who is watching, or fitting into the prescripted "female" role, lets you instead be the person you want to be.

Once you know what the male gaze is and how to spot it, its influence both on your inner self and your body may dissipate. Plus, when you are consuming or producing various types of media, you can do so with your eyes wide open to the ways the male gaze may be playing a part in the narrative and visual landscape. Even better, you can create the vision of yourself that speaks to you—regardless of who may or may not be looking. Ultimately, the male gaze is a social construct that we can disarm by recognizing it and choosing to either tolerate or ignore it—or intentionally take it on and recalibrate it as your own, co-opting its power to define your sexuality, agency, and worth on your own terms.

Ever wonder what your personality type means? Sign up to find out more in our Healthy Mind newsletter. Oliver K. The male gaze is more relevant, and more dangerous, than ever. New Review of Film and Television Studies. Glapka E. Feminist Poststructuralist Discourse Analysis as a tool of critique. Critical Discourse Studies. Ponterotto D. Mulvey L. Visual pleasure and narrative cinema. Gewin V. Film and television tell children who can be scientists. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Lundy AD. Caught Between a Thot and a Hard Place. The Black Scholar. Mukkamala S, Suyemoto KL. Asian American Journal of Psychology. Objectification theory: Continuing contributions to feminist psychology. APA handbook of the psychology of women: History, theory, and battlegrounds. Fathers, daughters, and self-objectification: does bonding style matter? Body Image. Table of Contents View All. Table of Contents. What Is the Male Gaze? Understanding the Male Gaze. The Effects of the Male Gaze. Is It Harmful? Is There a Positive Side? Mental Health Impacts. Changing the Gaze.

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