Week 6 3/8 Body Image

Susan Bordo — “Hunger as Ideology” fromUnbearable Weight and Maggie Wykes/Barrie Gunter –“Conclusion” from The Media and Body Image

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The male gaze is when “woman stand in patriarchal culture as signifier for the male other, bound by a symbolic order in which man can live out his phantasies and obsessions through linguistic command by imposing them on the silent image of women still tied to her place as bearer of meaning”(pg..834) states Laura Mulvey. It is a pervasive form of vision in popular culture we see  in films, ads, painting and many other ways because it has been effective in selling to both genders because women by viewing the different forms of the male gaze they get the ideas on how to get a man attention to be desire by one. Women have to have a certain presence when she neared a male figure.

Laura Mulvey also describes how in narrative cinema the way they represent different races, gender and culture. How in films usually the male looking at the female ad the females is being portrayed for the opposite character and for the audience. “whose only sexual satisfaction can come from watching, in an active controlling sense, an objectified other”(pg.836) It a style that popular culture uses as persuasive way so it can attract audience. We see a major ad and film of heterosexuals which some occasion they aim the gay community in a subliminal way to sell a service or product. “In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female”(pg.837) women are being displayed and views as a sex object in films and ad they start of by showing  their body parts. To get a reaction of the audience maintained that way.

Berger states in Ways of Seeing, “Presence for a women is so intrinsic to her person that men tend to think of it as an almost physical emanation, a kind of heat or smell or aura”(pg.46) The way women appear to men or in public is important for her success in life and the way she is being viewed. In the Bergen reading we also explorer the difference between being nude is more a form of art and naked is being without any clothes. Lady Gaga would be a great example relating to the article usually wearing outfits that are very revealing and most of the picture she never looking into the camera by doing this she get a greater reaction from the audience. “to be nude is to be seen as naked by other and yet not recognized for oneself”(pg.54) which is what the male gaze is.

Bell hook mentions “Imagine the terror felt by the child who has come to understand through repeated punishments that one’s gaze can be dangerous” (page 115, bells hooks) I believe the terror is not only within the childhood of an innocent child is the same terror of a women looking at the opposite gender in the eyes because we might feel we are seducing or approaching them in a sexual way for the way this patriarchy world we live on is constructed. It’s a powerful communication between both genders. Which a male has the right to judge women by her physical appearance and actions and where a female is very self-conscious how she appears to male. I believe that why in many advertisement women are portray in that way the ad’s gave this gaze that men want to desire them and women wanna be have that same confidence and sex-appeal.

I believe that because they Gaze has been created we tend to always building up to it. Usually women are usually more concern with their physical beauty and transforming themselves into something satisfying. Usually we see many ad about beauty, cosmetic surgery, different trends of clothing that seem appealing to man. This has all been built in the media industry the gaze that women need to have a certain look to obtain man attention. I believe that the gaze has to do with the economy because interaction with the viewer and the object to make some profit of it need to be there.

In the reading The Oppositional Gaze “that all attempts to repress out/black peoples’ right to gaze had produced in us an overwhelming longing to look, a rebellious desire, an oppositional gaze”(pg.116)  the gaze became form of defiantly and opposition usually in movie black people portray has been negative or a small role, which has change over the years but in today popular culture we see that their still being portrayed as negative. Recently I was viewing this kids movie called “RIO” and I was critically analyzing to see if I saw the different races and there are monkeys which are the thief’s and do dirty work in the jungle which we can say that the representation of black is being portrayed in this movie in a negative way. “power is a system of domination which controls everything and which leaves no room for freedom”(pg.116) Which relates how white usually portray in a positive way and how the whites usually dominate the field and choose degrade others races or women.

Overall I believe the Male gaze has been destructive to women and women have to stand up for their writes and make themselves more valuable. I am film major with a minor in women and gender in the future I want to create film breaking out of these entire stereotypes and play around with the gaze of male.

Work cited:

Berger, John. “3.” Ways of Seeing. London: British Broadcasting, 1973.

Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Film Theory and Criticism : Introductory Readings. Eds. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen. New York: Oxford UP,1999







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The Male Gaze (Donka N)


Image: photograph by Barbara Kruger, untitled (“Your gaze hits the side of my face”) ,1981

The male gaze is not just a way of looking but a powerful interaction between a man and a woman, where a woman works to appear in a certain way to a man, and a man is allowed to judge her by her physical appearance and actions.

Based on an analysis made by Berger, women are judged on how they look and how they act. Berger gave the example that if a woman makes a joke she will be not be taken seriously by men because she is communicating to men that she is a joke. Berger states that a woman cannot make a joke for the sake of amusement, like a man (47). Therefore, in order for a woman to appear in the way she wants to in the eyes of a man she must watch her self and monitor her behavior (Berger 46). This gives the woman the illusion that she is in control of her own image, when in fact she never is. The man still has the power to determine how she will be treated.

According to Berger, a woman also does not own her own sexuality; the male gaze strips a woman of any agency and assumes that the woman is there for the pleasure of the man (55). Since the male gaze teaches a man to judge a woman by her appearance the woman can also become an object. Men and women are taught the male gaze not only through still images (such as photographs, and illustrations) but through films as well.  In Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, Mulvey describes how the camera documents a woman in the film. In films the camera may focus on a woman’s body (such as her legs) or her face, which turns the woman into an erotic object in the film (838). The camera controls what the audience can and cannot see and therefore trains the audience to look at the woman as an object, rather than as a person. To summarize, a women in films are often shown as sexual objects that freeze “the flow of action in moments of erotic contemplation” (Mulvey 837).

Advertising often preys on the insecurities in women by using the male gaze to encourage women to buy products that would help them appear how they would like to look in the eyes of men.  The male gaze can have a destructive effect on women because women often sacrifice their own identity in order to reach the ideal that is portrayed in the media.


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The oppositional gaze examines the media representations of a group and works to challenge them. In The Oppositional Gaze, Bell Hooks describes how the oppositional gaze was used by African Americans: “when most black people in the United States first had the opportunity to look at film and television, they did so fully aware that mass media was a system of knowledge and power reproducing and maintaining white supremacy” (117). Those who look with an oppositional gaze may choose to create media that challenges the stereotypes presented in mainstream media.


The male gaze can be destructive to young women who are still developing their identities and sense of self. Young girls may feel that they need the male gaze for self-validation and in order to get noticed by young boys they may focus more on becoming attractive and passive. In the article The Male Gaze and Fears of Being Unnoticed and Unaccepted, Dr. Weber writes that some girls may adopt a “kind of passive, easy, giggly, even ditzy persona” to appear non-threatening to boys (Weber, “The Male Gaze and Fears of Being Unnoticed and Unaccepted”). According to Dr. Weber, the need for validation that is received from the male gaze can cause a young woman to neglect herself and her needs and can prevent her from learning how to establish emotional intimacy within relationships (Weber, “The Male Gaze and Fears of Being Unnoticed and Unaccepted”).

Link to article: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/having-sex-wanting-intimacy/201306/the-male-gaze-and-fears-being-unnoticed-and-unaccepted

Berger, John. Ways of Seeing: Based on the BBC Television Series. London: British Broadcast Corporation and Penguin, 1972, Print.

Hooks, Bell.  Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston: South End Press, 1992. 115-31. Print.

Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Film Theory and Criticism : Introductory Readings. Eds. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen. New York: Oxford UP, 1999. 833-44. Print.

Weber, Jill P.  “The Male Gaze and Fears of Being Unnoticed and Unaccepted.” Psychology Today. Psychology Today Mag., 13 June 2013. Web. 23 Feb 2014. < http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/having-sex-wanting-intimacy/201306/the-male-gaze-and-fears-being-unnoticed-and-unaccepted&gt;

Post 2- Siyu Liu

In “Ways of Seeing”, Berger points out the difference of the representations of men and women and the ways they are both looked at and discusses the naked and the nude. At the beginning of the article, Berger says a man’s presence is “dependent upon the promise of power he embodies” and “suggests what he is capable of doing to you or for you.” (45). On the other hand, the female presence revolves around herself and what can and cannot be done to her. Women would become self conscious of their presence since they are constantly being observed in the eyes of other people. Berger states, “A woman must continually watch herself” and “she has to survey everything she is and everything she does because how she appears to others, and ultimately how she appears to men, is of crucial importance for what is normally thought of as the success of her life.” (46) Therefore the surveyor and surveyed exist, when men surveys women and women surveys themselves or watch themselves being surveyed. Thus the women turns into object of vision, and simply, they just appear while men act. (47). In European nude art, the artists were usually men and the objects being drawn were usually women. The gaze of the spector or artist created the judgement of females in the paintings.

In “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, Mulvey describes the male gaze as projecting phantasy on the female figure. (837). It happens when the women figure is displayed as an erotic subject. The male gaze is a pervasive form of vision in popular culture because the pleasure from the specator or audience is caused by when females offer their feminity on screen or paper. On screen or tv, the female is portrayed to attract among a large heterosexual male audience. In advertisement, women are featured to sell products. They are dressed in a certain way or posed in a certain way or wore their makeup and hair in a certain way for one goal – to sell. The term “sex sells” still exists in modern advertising.

In “Oppositional Gaze”, Bell hook says, “all attempts to repress our/black peoples’ right to gaze had produced in us an overwhelming longing to look, a rebellious desire, an oppositional gaze.” (116) She shares her own experience and proves that there are other gazes beside the male gaze. She gave us background on how the slaves were punished for gazing. At first when black people in the U.S had the oppurtunity to watch films, they learned to look at white people on screen and developed critical spectatorship. (117). The white representations of the black can certainly be degrading and dehumanizing at times and the spectators resist to identify with the film’s discourse. The rebellious desire rises when they refuse to associate with the portrayals in dominant white films.

I have come to understand these structures and they have changed my views about visual media. Here are a few examples:


American Apparel is advertising the same flannel on a male model and a female model. The male model wears the flannel casually with a pair of denim jeans, and/ or a sweater/hoodie over it.  The female model wears the flannel unbuttoned with no bra and a plain pair of underwear. Not only is she wearing way less than the male model, the way she is posed is meaning to show off her curves. Racy AA ads are not surprisingly rare, although almost all depict female models.


“Respect Yourself In The Morning”

Not sure what this ad is trying to say, but putting cinnabon to display a woman’s bottom is certainly not giving her any respect.


Twitter: Http://twitter.com/hellolucyx3

Ways of Seeing- The Male Gaze

The gaze is when someone is being watched. But it has become an engendered and a power issue. Men look at women and women know men are looking. Women become aware of this from childhood. John Berger talks about Nude paintings from the Renaissance. He said, “You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, you put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting Vanity, thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for your own pleasure” (51). The word “nude” is used to make it less about the looking and more of an art. It is also a reason for men to look at women. But by putting a mirror in their hand it becomes a woman looking at herself not a man.

In film and photography, the camera becomes the eyes. When a woman enters a scene usually just showing a body part. Women are also more of an accessory or something nice to look at. Laura Mulvey wrote, “Traditionally, the woman displayed has function on two levels: as erotic object for the characters within the screen story, and as erotic object for the spectator within the auditorium, with a shifting tension between the looks on either side of the screen” (838).” The woman is there to give the audience something to look at and usually as a love interest for the male lead. Mulvey discusses “buddy movies” (837) briefly, and how two main male characters can be involved in a bromance and its seen as normal. However in most movies with a female protagonist she is usually romantically involved with another man. Those types of movies are nicknamed chick flicks even though they usually have the quest of finding a man to love.

The oppositional gaze is to fight back against the gaze. We learn as young children to not look back at someone you’re in trouble with. We tend to look down or away from the trouble. The gaze is powerful but so is the oppositional gaze. It takes back the power and dominance.

Bell Hooks says the oppositional gaze is more race related than gender. Black people were taught not to look directly at people and to look down. However with the growing popularity of television they were allowed to look. “We laughed at television shows like Our Gang and Amos ‘n’ Andy at these white representations of blackness, but we also looked at them critically” (Hooks 117). In the same environment where a black man would be lynch for looking at a white woman is encouraged to watch them on film and television. The oppositional gaze developed to take back the domination of the gaze.

After reading these passages I’ve been come more critical to what I see in the media and my daily life. I noticed how some movies and television shows that I thought showed a strong female protagonist is usually shadowed by some type of father figure or male love interest. This has also changed my mind the most about photography and film. I always knew that men look at women differently than women looking at men but these articles reenforced that. The fashion industry is mainly geared towards women and just recently started to include more choices for men. After understanding the gaze it has made me more critical of what I see in representations of women in media and in my daily life.




The Oppositonal and Male Gaze

The oppositional gaze represents the intrinsic power held by the dispossessed as they actively challenge the way power relations are traditionally defined.  At the core of this is the fear of the ‘Other’. In a world of what Bell Hooks terms the “imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy”, the one archetype that all others are compared to is successful, suave, confident, powerful white male. Not only does this person have agency, but also the respect and authority that come from being recognized as a powerful and intelligent figure. The other is his antithesis, his negative. It is what he isn’t. If one’s role is defined by the ‘other’, what would one be if the conceptual ‘other’ were to change or disappear entirely?

Hence, when minorities such as African Americans and women attempt to subvert the established institutions of patriarchy, they often are seen as a threat to stability and normalcy. When someone is attempting to assert power, a confrontational stare or a steady calm gaze can mean a challenge while avoiding eye contact can be a sign of weakness or fear.

In The Oppositional Gaze, Bell Hooks said ”The ability to manipulate one’s gaze in the face of structures of domination that would contain it, opens up the possibility of agency” (Hooks, 116).  In this regard, the male gaze can often be seen in women’s ads, not only because it is a sign of our patriarchal world, but also because it encourages women to see themselves in relationship to ‘the gaze’. In Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, Mulvey said, “In their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact…Women displayed as sexual object is the leit-motiff of erotic spectacle: from pin-ups to strip-tease, from Zeigfield to Busby Berkely, she holds the look, plays to and signifies male desire” (Mulvey, 837).

Consequently, the gaze does not specifically belong to the realm of man, but it is usually employed as such because traditionally, society (patriarchs) values beautiful women. In the consumer-driven culture of America, it is often easier to appeal to a woman’s vanity and her insecurities in order to sell products which enhance beauty (or are perceived to).  The perpetuation of the “imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy” depends on people continuing to see the message behind these ads as more important (being beautiful and admired and playing into that trope) than the ad itself (which is trying to sell a product).


Ways of Seeing/ Viewing( Male Gaze & Oppositonal Gaze)

The “gaze” can be best described as the power or control that a certain individual or group believes they hold over other individuals or groups. In regards to the “male gaze”, it is defined as the way men objectify women and the way in which men believe they hold control or power over women. This can be noted through different forms of media, such as ads, in which  women are posed or presented, by men behind the lens, in a way that makes them appear as a desirable object in order to sell or attract consumers, and to basically appeal to the male population. For example, many a times women are often displayed in a sexually suggestive manner that almost has nothing in common with the product being advertised such as perfumes or colognes . In many films, female characters are mostly on screen just for the male audience’s  pleasure. In Laura Mulvey’s article, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, she states how women in film are “displayed” and looked at  as  sexual objects and as signifiers of the male desire(837).


Note: Where’s the cologne?


The “male gaze” has become a consequence of the ever present patriarchy that has become prevalent in popular culture. The system of patriarchy allows for the the white male to have power and authority over women and individuals. This authority over women is at times seen in ads in which the female appears subservient to man, at times she is under him or is posed in a way that makes her seem weak and vulnerable in contrast to the rigid and domineering male.


Due to this male gaze, women are often watching themselves and how they act in public. As John Berger states” from earliest childhood, she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually”(46). Women are constantly surveying themselves and everything they do in order to not only appease others but also men because, as Berger stated, this is of “crucial importance” and is thought of a success in her life(46).

Another form of power struggle between individuals is the “oppositional gaze”, which can be described as the way in which individuals are targeted not just on the bases of gender but also race. Bell Hooks notes the oppositional gaze as form of resistance for black individuals(116) in a society where they are misrepresented. In the aspects of media, there is a lack of representation of black women and even if they are represented it is usually based on stereotypes that in no way represent this group. As Bell  Hooks notes, black women are often portrayed as undesirable or with traits that can be considered as negative. The main details noticed in film or other forms of media is the black women were below what was considered attractive or what was desirable to look at, which was the white woman.(118).

In regards to these different systems of power, they have vastly allowed me to view things that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. Learning of these systems has allowed me to see how the male gaze and patriarchy are so deeply engraved in the media and how I’ve come to see it as normal. The readings have allowed me to see how much women are objectified and how the gaze affects not only a certain gender but also a race. In ads and magazines women are displayed as sexual object instead of beings while men are posed in  a way that makes them seem confident and in control of their environment.