Saturday, February 26, 2011

Men act ; Women appear ..........

Be it Cinema, T.V, Arts or any other media dominated by male society, Pleasure in looking has been divided into: Active/male and Passive/female. According to Mulvey, the concept of male gaze is the one that deals with how men look at women. She believes that in the film, audiences have to view the character from a heterosexual view where females are always objectified (Mulvey, 839).

For instance, the camera rolling over the curves of women's body, close-ups of her lips, legs, breasts, relegates women to status of objects and these events are mostly in response to a man's reaction. There are several advertisements where we can find the women's body being sexually exposed when it has nothing to do with the products being sold.

The advertisement shown above is one of Tom Ford's glasses ad which clearly incorporates Mulvey's criticism. The model shown in this ad is expressing so called "invitational" pose, perhaps suggesting sexual connotations.

Coming from the black feminist perspective, Bell hooks talks about the oppositional gaze. According to hooks, the oppositional gaze is the one that averts the objectifying, dehumanizing gaze of white Americans and which helped to re-establish the black American status giving them a voice (hooks,116).I remember watching William Faulkner’s " A rose for Emily" where they have portrayed a black women as vocally deformed incapable of utterance.there are several other examples that describes the birth of oppositional gaze.Bell, remembering the character from Amos n Andy, wrote a short essay to encourage black women not to accept the stereotypical representation but to think critically.

After these reading and constant analysis, I have come to an understanding that the media has such control over our imagination and there really is a conscious manipulation of representation. While studying back in Nepal I always thought women in United States have the equal rights as men, but now encountering such ridiculous gender stereotypes in various forms of media has made me think more critically. I feel that such stereotypes, these male dominating structures are politically and culturally constructed.


Berger, John. “Ways of Seeing.” British Broadcasting Corporation, 1972: 36-64

Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Film Theory and Criticism : Introductory Readings. New York: Oxford UP, 1999: 833-44.

Bell Hooks. “In Black Looks: Race and Representation.” Boston: South End Press, 1992: 115-31

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