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The term “male gaze” was coined by Laura Mulvey in her 1975 essay Visual pleasure and narrative cinema to describe the way the inclusion of women as objects of desire functions in the majority of films to create a space for male scopophilic pleasure. The concept has been appropriated into feminist film theory, where it is used to describe the tendency for mainstream films to be seen as under male control. The male gaze is the foundation of the patriarchy. It keeps women down and poor, it forces them to be submissive and obedient; it keeps them from being taken seriously as professionals and as human beings.
The male gaze is a problematic issue in feminist theory about the visual arts and the interaction of the sexes, beginning when visual media developed to the point where images of women became more common than depictions of men. According to feminist film theory, movies are one of the primary means of relaying social attitudes through popular culture. Visual art forms like paintings are another way media portrays women as objects and reduces the value of their lives. Few visual media such as movies or paintings depict men in the same sexual manner. The male gaze is a concept used in feminist film criticism to describe how women are depicted on screen as sexual objects for the male viewer. It is most often described in the context of mainstream Hollywood movies, but it can be applied to other art forms, such as video games, mainstream music videos, and advertising.
We can identify three main roles in this phenomenon, each of them having similar effects but each with a distinct perspective: the gaze of the director, that of the male characters within the images, and that of the spectator seeing the result. The eye of the camera is often held against a different purpose. The male gaze exists in opposition to the point of view of the female characters, where it has symbolic associations with corruption and power. However, there is reason to believe that such a perspective can be more broadly conceded within the conventions of narrative cinema.
But the male gaze and its implications are not merely sexual; they encompass all aspects of the viewer’s relationship to the viewed. In film critique, for instance, Laura Mulvey describes the perspective of the male gaze in feminist terms as a way of seeing that is dominant, aggressive, controlling, and oppressing–even when this look is supposedly ‘feminine’ or used by women. The male gaze is inextricable from the concepts of voyeurism, eroticism, and sexism. The two different uses of the male gaze are traditionally depicted as a form of voyeurism and as a way in which women are made to feel self-conscious about themselves by their male counterparts.