What is the female gaze?
What is the female gaze? Thanks for asking!
The term “female gaze” has been used in recent years to describe art that subverts the male perspective. The concept is seen as a response to Laura Mulvey’s 1975 essay about the so-called “male gaze”. Historically, this has been the dominant way of viewing art forms, with the male creator and male characters catering to male viewers. The rest of the characters often exist mainly to serve the male lead, his interests and his story. As a result, women have often been objectified or ignored, with their characters oversimplified.
Why has this happened?
Well, men are overrepresented in the film industry, so over the years most lead characters have been male. Even as recently as 2018, just 24% of protagonists in the 100 highest grossing films were female. To compound that issue, they’re generally surrounded by elements which appeal to male audiences. The female perspective has traditionally been suppressed. So when a female filmmaker, for example, brings a different viewpoint, we talk about the female gaze. Phil de Semlyen, global film editor at Time Out said: “I find the female gaze easier to define in terms of what it isn’t than what it is: it’s not about objectifying the female form or replacing fully-realised female characters with loose avatars for male sexual fantasy; it’s not framing sex scenes with tropes common to pornography aimed at men; it’s not about automatically relinquishing power and control to men in storytelling.”
Is it about reversing the roles and objectifying men rather than women? Or is it more complicated? What are some examples of female gaze films then? In under 3 minutes, we answer your questions!
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