The male gaze is a concept in feminist theory that was coined by film theorist Laura Mulvey. The term describes a way of looking at the world through a masculine lens, which involves seeing women and their bodies as both objects for sexual desire and passive spectators of the world. The “male gaze” refers to a way of representing the world through a heterosexual male point of view. It is also known as the “masculine gaze.” It is distinct from a feminist film theory perspective or the idea of the male gaze in general, which is important for understanding gender representation.
The male gaze is so overused that it’s becoming cliché. Although most movies still center around masculine desires, the audience has become more sophisticated. Genres like martial arts film began as a manifestation of misogyny and an attempt to sexualize even minor female characters. But modern martial arts films have evolved— there is now a female protagonist who fights just as well as her male counterparts. Old Hong Kong movies offended western sensibilities because women were portrayed solely for male desire. The male gaze is still relevant today in that its influence can be found in many facets of society. In the media such as television shows and commercials, there are different examples of how women are portrayed.
Male Gaze has influenced the way how films and books have been written for years. The male gaze makes women look like objects to be consumed. Now, that trend is reversing with television shows like Game of Thrones, Orange Is the New Black, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder because there are a lot of women writing these shows. So they do not speak from male perspectives, instead, they communicate a female perspective about life. The male gaze is the lingering look that appears in movies and on billboards today. It is the camera angle taking you from the head down to a woman’s body, looking at her breasts, stomach, etc. We see the male gaze when women are portrayed as sexualized objects. The male gaze is inevitably drawn to female bodies and women are often the subjects of their sexual fantasies. Worse, they are a sexual commodity sold to men and other women.
When we talk about the male gaze in film, we are talking about the placement of the camera when a shot is being filmed. The male gaze shows women as sexual objects for male pleasure. This doesn’t mean we have to do away with the male gaze, though. A male gaze is a powerful tool at the disposal of filmmakers. It can be used to start conversations and highlight issues. We just need to try and use it less often and with more care.