Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Male Gaze

The concept of the male gaze was first introduced by film critic Laura Mulvey in the mid 1970's. As described by Wikipedia, the male gaze "describes the tendency in visual culture to depict the world and women from a masculine point of view and in terms of men's attitudes" This can be seen in advertisements, movies, paintings and photographs. While reading Mulvey's article that introduced the idea of the meal gaze to society, I found myself surprised that I had not previously picked up on this before. I then started to think about past movies that I had seen and realized just how true this concept was. Essentially all advertisements objectify or portray women in a sexual way, whether it be in a bikini, or literally serving as an object. Mulvey mentions how the male gaze goes hand in hand with scopophilia, which is getting sexual pleasure from looking at erotic objects. A lot of the directors and creators of these images are men, hence why the male gaze is so prevalent throughout. In the TED Talk we watched and the video in which Laura Mulvey speaks, they again talk about how women continue to be constantly seen in a sexual way. I again began to think how the majority of what I see in advertisements and media is through a male gaze. This then lead me to connect the self harm due to the male gaze and the objectification of women. I have had friends who have eating disorders and have self harmed due to their lack of confidence which stems from these unrealistic standards of women in media. Women see these Victoria Secret Angels in advertisements and on television and compare themselves to them which proves to be harmful. 

In her presentation, Belle also mentioned how the female gaze is also becoming more and more prevalent and harmful in today's society. Many people often associate self harm and eating disorders with women, but it is something that is very real with males too. Males are similarly displayed as extremely muscular and exceptionally fit, which is just as unrealistic of a body standard as that of women. Males think that they have to achieve this standard in order to be "good enough" and desired, which is detrimental to their self confidence, thus resulting in forms of self harm. I also found it very interesting how the male gaze has still dominated media since the Renaissance era. Hundreds of years later, and it still is just as present in societal images. I now am starting to take note when I see advertisements and different images and using Belle's "4 C's" to really see what the image is trying to say or sell, as well as the audience it is trying to reach. I also thought about how in movies you rarely see a male character that does a full frontal nude shot, and it is way more common with females. This again goes with the idea of a male gaze as it caters to a male audience and is filmed through the eyes of a male. I am now definitely going to be more attentive to images shown and how they portray the specific gender shown. 

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