Since men respond well to an attractive female, and it’s men that control media, these images of sexy women are used for product promotion. It also allows for manipulation of men and degradation of the female image.
A pervasive form of visual is when there is a barrier between reality and fantasy. The male gaze is a pervasive form because there is a lack of search for what is beyond the superficial. According to Laura Mulvey, “the male gaze” is the way in which a man observes a women and all her beauty. He projects his sexual fantasies on her during this gaze and/or places himself in the role held by her hero, or confidante. The man takes great pleasure in this act and uses the woman for sexual stimulation.
The “oppositional gaze,” coined by Bell Hooks, is defined as the confrontational response of subordinates to their authoritative oppressors. She points out the historical significance of the “oppositional gaze,” and the repercussions when she recalls reading in history class”…white slave owners (men, women and children) punished enslaved black people for looking…” She goes on to apply this term to the relationship between southern black folks and there children, bringing to light, the perpetuation of the domination commonly held with strategies used by black parents embodied by "the oppositional gaze”.
Within popular American culture, the image of women is utilized for the purpose of selling products and films. The, often glamorized image exploits and/or objectifies women and caters to men’s desires and fantasies. Advertisers know the best way to sell a man anything from beer to cologne and vodka to shoes. In print and in television commercials advertisers use the shock method increasingly to capture men’s attention. Being a jaded society in which nothing phases us, shock in advertising is used to break through advertising “clutter” and to capture men’s attention. Men are won and driven by pleasing visual images of women. “The male gaze” represents the medias vision, and this technique is used to control us through our spending habits.
From my teenage years to my early twenties, “the male gaze” seduced me easily. I was manipulated by the idea that winning the attention of men meant empowerment and captivating them was enticing since, I was influenced by impressive women on screen. They held men’s attention, so why couldn’t I do the same?
My view of Hollywood films, T.V. shows and commercials have evolved to the point where I question, more critically, the roles women play, “the male gaze” and their impact on us as spectators. I’ve become acutely aware that men choose films, and distribute to other men, plenty of titillating images and narratives and are aware of it. They unapologetically cheapen the female image, and place women in victim roles, while representing them as the weaker, intellectually inferior gender. Examples of Hollywood films that use “the male gaze” are: The Grindhouse films, Swordfish and the Bond Franchise. These films degrade women and reduce us to a one-dimensional image.
A great assortment of images of Bond Girls:
Hooks, Bell. Black Looks: Race and Representation. “The Oppositional Gaze” Boston: South End Press. 1992. 115-31.
Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Film Theory and Criticism : Introductory Readings. New York: Oxford UP, 1999: 833-44.