Saturday, 10 January 2009

Year 13 Film Studies - Is there a Female Gaze?

Last week we embarked on a journey into Gendered cinema and started to explore the notion of Hollywood being a Patriarchal Order based upon evidence from the 'Celluloid Ceiling' report 2007. We started to look at the work of Laura Mulvey and her theories relating to this concept and her exploration of the 'Male Gaze'. In her essay, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema", Mulvey makes a distinction between "woman as image" and "man as bearer of the look". Psychoanalysis in film theory makes desire a male preoccupation, insofar as the male spectator desires the female subject in the objectification of the latter in film. According to Mulvey, in the scopophillic arena, the female is the fetishised object that the male desires and admires in looking at. She possesses the quality of "to-be-looked-at-ness", whereas the male possess the ability to look, taking pleasure in looking at the female. Although the process of filming may seem objective, it is not sexually "neutral", in that the technical process itself corresponds to male sexual fantasy. This week I hope to challenge this theory and begin to explore whether or not it can be argued that a 'Female Gaze' and other forms of Gaze may also be evident in film. Ann Kaplan, in Women and Film: Both Sides of the Camera, explores this idea explaining why, in her view, the cinematic arena itself is gendered and caters for a variety of gaze.

If you are interested in this topic and want to extend your knowledge and understanding of this often complex debate, feel free to have a look at some of the goodies on offer in this posting, some of which we will look at in next week's lesson. Let's begin with Brad Pitt in the 'Buff' - just for you ladies!

Here is a PowerPoint Presentation that covers gender debates and offers some interesting insight into research around patriarchy in America, and a PDF Research document exploring the Male and Female gaze in :

It's also worth having a look at some classic male objectification in Sex and The City. I've been looking on YouTube but have not yet quite found the clip I want. When I find it, I'll post it here!
Have a good weekend x

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