The Female Gaze?
February 27, 2019 at 12:18 pm #1316Raina Schoen ThomasParticipant
Going back to the Mulvey text and some of the points we were discussing in class, it seems apparent that there is major gender bias at play in early Hollywood films. Seeing how the majority of these films were written and directed by men, it would make sense that the world and the female characters within that world would be portrayed through the male perspective.
Since that time, there has been a growing number of female directors, producers, leads, etc. and I was wondering if the same gender bias can be seen for the male characters here? In other words, is there a female gaze? What are some common misrepresentations of men in film? Is one gender better at portraying things overall? I’d imagine a lot of this would be subjective, but if anyone can think of some clear examples this might be interesting to explore.February 28, 2019 at 2:12 pm #1325Jason WhelehanParticipant
It’s hard to say. There are no examples of the fetishistic scopophilia that come to mind. I can’t picture an example like the one of soft lighting surrounding Ilsa in “Casablanca”. ANd to consider a woman’s point of view as a writer or director does not seem to necessitate a female gaze. I think that says more about women writers’ role in social progress than anything. I was considering the male gaze in my drama class. I understand why Mulvey’s article applies only to film, because the camera acts as a surrogate eye for the audience, but I found it interesting to consider how the theater must also have properties that are like the male gaze, male writers dominate, the stories reflect that point of view, and the wall between stage and audience is somewhat like the camera eye. Once women writers began to add to the landscape, different views were represented. The same is happening now with more women writers and directors in film. The reason I think it suggests progress is because you don’t see reciprocation of on screen representation like the example of Ilsa. I’m sure if we consider comedy, satire, and parody, there are examples. The parody of Austin Powers dressed in a bikini on the beach like Ursula Andress in the famous James Bond scene pokes fun at the absurdity of a scene like that rather than expose a female gaze. But I imagine it will be difficult to find a true example of a female gaze that isn’t satirical.March 4, 2019 at 8:32 am #1326ALISON AMESParticipant
There are a few films that come to mind that are more geared to illicit a ‘female gaze,’ however, their genres leave them tediously on the other side of what we consider to be seriously considered films. The first film that came to mind was Magic Mike. Despite the majority of the cast being male, the film is considered to be a drama/comedy and is obviously filmed with a female audience in mind. The other film that comes to mind provides an example of both female and male gaze, Dirty Dancing. Considered a drama/romance the women are emphasized as well, but Swayze’s character is a subordinate who is objectified by the guests and women. His body is definitely highlighted from/for a female perspective. One thing I would note is that defining a male gaze or a female gaze is just another bifurcation that limits our perspectives as humans. When you hear a story from someone else’s perspective you have to assume that the story is subjective to their world view, male or female, what is important is the recent attempt in film to expand one’s own view in order to include other perspectives that may not have been represented in the past. The rising number of women involved in film and production of film contributes to this but I’d like to think that an awareness of this bias contributes to the recent changes as well.March 4, 2019 at 10:44 am #1327Brittany PrattParticipant
Even though I think Magic Mike would be an excellent example of the “female gaze,” it can’t be because the female gaze doesn’t exist. It can’t exist. Yes, that movie, and increasingly others (as more women enter the film industry), are geared toward female audiences and arguably “objectify” men (though, not in the same way as women), but there is one major component that it is lacking in order to be considered part of the “female gaze”: power. Even if the entire film was created around the female fantasy, it still wouldn’t exhibit the “female gaze” because the industry is still run by powerful men who won’t allow it to get that far. What comes to mind for me is Blue Valentine and how the makers claimed it was censored and given an outrageous rating like R or NC-17, because they focused on female pleasure and eliminated any sense of the male gaze. (Disclaimer: I haven’t seen the whole movie so I really can’t attest to that, but I did read it in an article!) Anyway, this raises the question for me of if what we’re thinking of as the “female gaze” is maybe just a lack of the male gaze? Is it representing genders neutrally and fairly?March 4, 2019 at 11:07 am #1328Raina Schoen ThomasParticipant
Yes, I agree. If it even exists, I would not not say that the female gaze is simply a parody of the male gaze. There are several movies that depict a form of role reversal, like in Magic Mike, that characterize male characters as sexual objects. However, again, this is simply taking a sexist trope in film and flipping it around to give the other sex a taste of its own medicine, and regardless still isn’t a nice way to represent people. Since the male gaze has dominated the film industry for so long, it is undoubtably an unconscious influence on both male and female filmmakers. Any new perspectives these days are very much welcome. and with any hope films that fall into the category “realism” will end up more closely resembling reality.
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