The Male GazeThe Male Gaze
Laura MulveyLaura Mulvey
““Visual Pleasure andVisual Pleasure and
Narrative Cinema”Narrative Cinema”
What is the Gaze?What is the Gaze?
The concept of gaze is one that deals with
how an audience views the people
For feminists it can be thought of in 3
• How men look at women,
• How women look at themselves
• How women look at other women.
Gaze and feminist theoryGaze and feminist theory
coined the term
‘Male Gaze’ in
believes that in
have to ‘view’
of a heterosexual
Features of the Male GazeFeatures of the Male Gaze
The camera lingers on the curves of the
female body, and events which occur to
women are presented largely in the context of
a man's reaction to these events.
Relegates women to the status of objects. The
female viewer must experience the narrative
secondarily, by identification with the male.
“I love the way she
fills her clothes.
She looks just like
them girls in Vogue.”
Watch the video and
then be prepared for
Watch the following and be prepared to
answer some questions.
• Scouting for girls
Quick questionsQuick questions
What colour top was he and she wearing?
What bowling lane was used?
What colour belt did he and she wear?
What colour shoes did he and she wear?
What colour eyes did he and she have?
Why some of you might not have known
the answers to all the questions.
You were too busy looking at the woman.
Use of the Male Gaze inUse of the Male Gaze in
everyday lifeeveryday life
Some theorists also have noted the
sexualizing of the female body even in
situations where female sexiness has
nothing to do with the product being
Can you think of any examples of this?
Criticism of Mulvey and Gaze theoryCriticism of Mulvey and Gaze theory
Some women enjoy being ‘looked’ at e.g. beauty
The gaze can also be directed toward members
of the same gender for several reasons, not all
of which are sexual, such as in comparison of
body image or in clothing.
Are there any ‘flaws’ in these arguments?
Key theorists beliefs
Jonathan Schroeder (1998), “to gaze
implies more than to look at – it signifies a
psychological relationship of power, in
which the gazer is superior to the object of
Charlie's Angels femaleCharlie's Angels female
empowerment vs sexualityempowerment vs sexuality
Watch this clip and
examples of female
Are they mutually
belief apply to this
Freud & Lacan
• We construct our identities by looking at
ourselves and at each other. As children we
derive pleasure from looking at other people’s
bodies – scopophilia.
• The first time we fully see ourselves (in a mirror)
is the first time we understand ourselves as
• Cinema allows as to look at other people without
being seen ourselves. We enjoy this voyeurism.
Laura Mulvey - 1975
• Feminist argument to make political use of
conventional Hollywood film.
• Film places woman as subordinate,
inactive and limits them to narrow and two
• The audience are asked to take a male
‘point of spectatorship’ in most cinema
The Male Gaze
• Identification with the male lead.
– His actions become a surrogate for our own
part in the narrative. We psychologically align
ourselves with his point of view. He is the
• Objectification of the male lead’s
– The male lead desires the female form. As we
are aligned with his point of view, the
audience desire the female lead also.
What roles for women?
• The Madonna and the Whore
Object of reverence
‘on a pedestal’
Object of desire
• In your own words, describe the processes
of looking that are happening in this picture.