Welcome to the lecture for module 3! As a reminder, you should have completed the readings and viewings for this module before viewing this lecture.
This module’s readings all had to do with representation—how men and women are represented in popular culture. You read an excerpt from a very famous book called Ways of Seeing by John Berger. Berger is writing in the 1970s and he is focused on classical painting and modern advertising. Surveying these kinds of representations, Berger says that there is a pattern in which men look and women appear. Over and over, men are represented as the surveyor or the looker and women are represented as the surveyed, the object looked at. This is important because to look at something means that you have power. “The Gaze” is a term used to signify the power of looking. To gaze at something means to evaluate, judge it, perhaps even to “own it.” Now, there are examples of women gazing, for sure. But, Berger, and many scholars since then, have pointed out that this is not as common as men gazing. So, remember, we’re interested in patterns. What is typical. In addition, when women are gazing, much of the time they are gazing at themselves, like the woman looking at herself in the mirror on this slide.
We can see this use of mirrors to show women gazing at themselves even in classical painting. But is this really a gaze of power? Berger argues that it is not. He says that this is an example of the “surveyor within”. The surveyor within is an internalized male gaze. So, women learn to look at themselves as men look at them. The surveyor within is male. A good example of how this is disempowering is the “rape prevention discourse” that I talked about in the last lecture. Remember that I mentioned that women are often given all sorts of tips on how to protect themselves from rape? What is happening here is that women are being taught to look at themselves as a potential target of a violent male gaze. It circumvents women’s freedom—a woman may not go out at night because she doesn’t want to go out alone. But, if you think about it this particular example is also very negative towards men. It assumes that men will not be able to control themselves.
That they will be overcome by the woman’s looks. Of course, we see this reinforced in popular culture all the time. Women are blamed for assaults because they didn’t protect themselves from the male gaze and the consequences of that gaze.
You may be asking yourself why women ever want to be looked at if there is so much danger! Well, we live in a patriarchy. Literally, patriarchy means the law of the father, or father rule. Patriarchal societies are one’s, like ours, in which men dominate socially, economically, and culturally. In this situation, it makes perfect sense that women have developed a surveyor within. Our physical and economic survival depends on it. It is to a woman’s advantage to look good. She must look and behave well in order go get a job, find a good husband, be treated well when shopping for a car, and in thousands of everyday situations. Women who are considered ugly or fat by male gazers are discriminated against. So, women develop a surveyor within so we can judge ourselves using a male standard.
If you look at popular film, you will see tons of examples of men looking at women (or other men). Frequently women do not or cannot return the gaze (as in the voyeuristic example of Norman Bates in Psycho). Men are the subjects, the actors, and women are the objects. This process in which living breathing beings are turned into one-dimensional stereotypes is called objectifications—turning a woman into something to look at is objectification.
It is important to note that women as objects of the look is also raced. Catherine Lutz and Jane Collins talk about the representation of women of color. Historically, and even today, women of color are represented as exotic, primitive, as “Other.” These representations are from a Eurocentric or white, european perspective. She uses the term Africanism to describe representations of people from Africa as primitive or savage. Orientalism is a related term used to describe representations of Asian women (or men) as exotic, highly sexual and submissive. The historical example they talk about briefly is the Hottentot Venus, a south african woman who was displayed in europe in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
Today we have similar images. These are images from National Geographic. But you can also find these kinds of images of women of color everywhere.
Representations of women of color as “Other” help create and secure a norm—the norm is a white, european, skinny, woman, and women’s magazines have been key to cultivating this norm—and everyone’s desire to look like this norm—for decades. Jennifer Scanlon’s article talks about how magazines create the desire to consume or buy things so that one can approximate this norm. Magazines have been key to the growth and development of consumer culture (along with film, industrialization, etc.) Consumerism --means for marking social status --vehicle for economic development --moral, social, policy Materialism --value assigned to material goods
1988, founding Editor is Jane Pratt Bought by Peterson Publishing in 1995, stopped 1996
Representation: Module 3 Dr. Sarah Rainey
Ways of Seeing <ul><li>Men Look; Women Appear </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Men=Surveyor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Women=Surveyed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Gaze </li></ul>
Deconstructing an Image <ul><li>Berger…. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ all images are man-made” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ we see only what we look at. To look is an act of choice.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>VISUAL LITERACY </li></ul></ul>