The Female Gaze: Part 1 :: Foto Femme United

You may have heard the phrase female gaze being tossed around more and more, but what is it? The more I read about it, the less I seem to know. It has been stated that the problem with describing the female gaze is that it’s often “defined by what it doesn’t show, what it refuses to linger on” and I think that moves us a bit closer to an understanding. Within the patriarchal tradition of art history “men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only the relations between men and women, but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of women in herself is male: the surveyed the female. Thus she turns herself into an object…(Berger*).” This is the male gaze that Laura Mulvey references in her iconic essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema in 1975. We passively consume images and their messages more than any generation in history, which means we are constantly inundated with this gendered viewpoint. We praise and celebrate the rare images that surprise us as a culture, but they are not the norm, and the average person isn’t seeing images outside of mainstream media unless they have sought them out. The question of whose gaze, is a question of value. Whose interpretation of the world do we consume?

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what is the female gaze?
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