Reading Guide to selected works of Laura Mulvey on …

The Male Gaze: this concept is very prominent in Mulvey's essay as well in film today.

There are scopophilia moments, 'oscillating between voyeurism and fetishistic fascination', and the male heroes usually lose their respectability ('His heroes are exemplary of the symbolic order and the law'(66)) by succumbing to erotic drives.

To begin with (as an ending), the voyeuristic-scopophilic look that is a crucial part of traditional filmic pleasure can itself be broken down. There are three different looks associated with cinema: that of the camera as it records the pro-filmic event, that of the audience as it watches the final product, and that of the characters at each other within the screen illusion. The conventions of narrative film deny the first two and subordinate them to the third, the conscious aim being always to eliminate intrusive camera presence and prevent a distancing awareness in the audience. Without these two absences (the material existence of the recording process, the critical reacting of the spectator), fictional drama cannot achieve reality, obviousness and truth. Nevertheless, as this article has argued, the structure of looking in narrative fiction film contains a contradiction in its own premises: the female image as a castration threat constantly endangers the unity of the diegesis and bursts through the world of illusion as an intrusive, static, one-dimensional fetish. Thus the two looks materially present in time and space are obsessively subordinated to the neurotic needs of the male ego. The camera becomes the mechanism for producing an illusion of Renaissance space, flowing movements compatible with the human eye, an ideology of representation that revolves around the perception of the subject; the camera's look is disavowed in order to create a convincing world in which the spectator's surrogate can perform with verisimilitude. Simultaneously, the look of the audience is denied, an intrinsic force: as soon as fetishistic representation of the female image threatens to break the spell of illusion, and the erotic image on the screen appears directly (without mediation) to the spectator, the fact of fetishisation, concealing as it does castration fear, freezes the look, fixates the spectator and prevents him from achieving, any distance from the image in front of him.

1. There are films with a woman as main protagonist, of course. To analyse this phenomenon seriously here would take me too far afield. Pam Cook and Claire Johnston's study of The Revolt of Mamie Stover in Phil Hardy, ed: Raoul Walsh, Edinburgh 1974, shows in a striking case how the strength of this female protagonist is more apparent than real.

This was never done with male characters."Man is reluctant to gaze at his exhibitionist like.

This enables a whole new narrative to be opened up -- there is no need to symbolise woman as erotic, 'the female presence at the centre allows the story to be actually, overtly, about sexuality: it becomes a melodrama' (127).

Laura Mulvey on the 'male gaze' -- a guide to the main readings

Freud's work expands this cultural dimension himself, with references to daydreams and stories which 'describe the male fantasy of ambition, reflecting something of an experience and expectation of dominance (the active)' (125).

Male gaze | Geek Feminism Wiki | FANDOM powered by …

realist technique] lend support to this idea of male control of a 3-D environment, and the action.

Quote #2
Quote #2 Analysis
In narrative cinema women were merely erotic objects of a man's affection/fantasy
The most prominent concepts of this essay are the male gaze and the connotation of to-be-looked-at-ness
Women are well aware of how they are viewed by men and they take advantage of that.

“Game of Thrones” fails the female gaze: Why does …

We are shown that women are not looked at as equal to their male counterpart or even individuals but as an object for them to look at or direct.
How do we escape this paradox?

Laura Mulvey: Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema by …

Some use this to enhance or create their professions.
Men are in control of each scene, the camera usually identifies as male
Laura Mulvey: Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema
Quote #1 Analysis
"There is an obvious interest in this analysis for feminists, a beauty its exact rendering of the frustration experienced under the phallocentric order.


The way a man looks at a women with attraction, sometimes stares or speechless
To-Be-Looked-At-Ness: women are sexual transgressors, film embraces this by putting women in attractive clothing, putting them on display to satisfy the male desire
Quote #1
Who is Laura Mulvey
British feminist film theorist
Professor at University of London
Known for her influence on film theory through psychoanaysis with this essay
This essay was written in 1973 and published in 1975 in an influential British film theory journal titled

Women are only present to satisfy the male's fantasy.

Laura Mulvey: Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema

In a way she represents the unconscious of the male because she is always the object he is looking at and never is able to speak for herself.
Phallocentrism -- a world view which sees the penis (symbolic and otherwise) as the defining center of meaning.

this concept is very prominent in Mulvey's essay as well in ..

We are still separated by a great gap from important issues for the female unconscious which are scarcely relevant to phallocentric theory: the sexing of the female infant and her relationship to the symbolic, the sexually mature woman as non-mother, maternity outside the signification of the phallus, the vagina...