- Slides: 12
Feminism & The Male Gaze Laura Mulvey
Introduction • Laura Mulvey – Male Gaze Influenced by Freud & Jacques Lucan, Mulvey sees the representation of woman in film & literature (and therefore society in general) as being dominated by a male point of view. Her belief is that the world is a patriarchy and that men have the ‘active’ roles and woman ‘passive’ To look is seen as active
Traditionally • Men play active roles which drive the narrative • Women play passive roles and are seen as erotic objects which slow the narrative • Men far outnumber women • Female roles are sidelined • Lead roles for women scarce
Stereotypes • Bimbo • Female’s physical attractions such as figure and breasts to overpower the male • Easy • House wife • Mother • Intelligent yet willing to settle down
Male Gaze • Two distinct modes of the male gaze of this era: voyeuristic and fetishistic • Mulvey argued that women where given two characters types - sexually active female & powerless female • Films presented images of women that were produced simply for the gratification of male viewers • Various studies in the 1970 s found men to be the dominant characters and decision makers in film and TV production
Importance? • Where women had important roles they were far more likely to be shown as… - frightened - in need of protection and direction - offering support to the male lead character(s) - not independent or self driven - generally weaker - still objectified sexually • “Women, in any fully human form, have almost completely been left out of film…. ” L Mulvey
Fighting Back • Ripleys role is reflective of feminist ideology. Throughout the Alien series, we see her character grow, change, develop and mature to meet and tackle each situation placed before her. • Challenges cultural norms • Lt Ellen Ripley introduced viewers to their first selfreliant and successful • She has to fight against the science-fiction heroine patriarchal ideology of the Company, • Ripley encounters difficult situations which challenge her femininity • Still shown as sexual object to both audience and characters different kinds of male figures and of course, against the Alien • Distinctive references to gender roles, especially to women's status in the world and to motherhood
Changes in society • As women's roles change so does media representation. Still objectified but also likely to be… • Career driven • Intelligent • Confident • Empowered • Able (violent) Remember changes may be made cynically and in order to make money rather than change ideologies • How many female action stars who are not attractive? • How many older female stars V male?
A Terminators Feminist Timeline • T 1 – Sarah Connor is hysterical, screaming, in need of rescue • T 2 – Strong, empowered, able to hold her own against Arnie • T 3 – We have female terminator TX (uses femininity to advantage) • Terminator: Sarah Connor chronicles – save the world
A Modern Representation?
• Uma Thurman represented as powerful and dominant and independent • Sword stands in for and castrates phallus • Adopts male characteristics of aggression • Not masculinised yet in masculine roles • Use of low angles, and a masculine performance
• Conforms to Mulvey’s theory - job of seeking revenge family is given to the female character thus conforming to stereotypes where women are seen to be possessed with family and emotional • Tight outfit allows objectification • Voyeuristic pleasures by watching Thurman on her killing rampage • Remember male director/industry may still mean male ideologies