Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema"


Please use the following questions to guide your reading and notes on Mulvey's view on the filmic gaze:
1. How does Mulvey view the concept of the gaze in 40s and 50s Hollywood cinema?
2. Can you think of examples in which women's bodies are coded as "to-be-looked-at" by a gaze coded as heterosexual male?
3. Does Mulvey see any possibility in Hollywood film? Or is it all destined to repeat patriarchal fantasies? What do you think of this? Are there alternative readings of these Hollywood films?


Mulvey talks about needing to challenge the overwhelmingly masculine nature of cinema with a new wave if feminist filmmaking. Has this new wave occurred yet in the time since her article was written?

This relates to a show I watched in another class. We screened "Sex and the City" and it's relationship with male gaze. I was thinking during class that "oh, this should turn things around a show us a 'female gaze' but while watching and discussing we still showed signs of the male gaze in a highly pro-feminist tv show. Do you think even in shows as more women based as "Sex and the City" there is still the concept of "male gaze" being played?

Are the points that Mulvey makes in this article about how women are portrayed in movies relevant to today's films? It seems that women are not objectified in films or used in an "exhibitionist" role as often as they were in the eras that she writes about. Maybe they are, but there are so many movies about non-sexualized female characters that these types of characterizations are simply not noticed as much as they used to be.

In Mulvey's article she refers to "scopophilia" in cinema. Which indicates pleasure in looking at ones self or being looked at. Mulvey goes deeper with this concept in cinema and refers to it in its "narcissistic aspect," what are examples in todays cinema or that associate these two concepts together? Also what is Mulvey refering to when she says that the "meaning of women is sexual difference."

I may have missed it, but reading through this article, I see no call for action. She speaks of cinematic codes and their "relationship to formative external structures must be broken down before mainstream film and the pleasure it provides can be challenged." What is she asking us to do in this article? She also says in the last sentence that "Women ... can not view the decline of the traditional film form with anything more than sentimental regret." It's almost as if she just gives us the information and wants us to think of a way to stop it ourselves? What would she do to stop this gaze?

Early in Mulvey's piece she references the alternative cinema and the avant-garde as "reacting against the assumptions and obsessions of mainstream Hollywood film." She refers to this reaction as the starting point for alternative cinema structure, but stresses that it remains always a counterpoint to the established systems (including eroticism as spectacle) in cinema. Stan Brakhage's 1959 avant-garde classic, "Window Water Baby Moving" drew considerable criticism as being disempowering of women by eroticizing and appropriating the inherently gendered experience of childbirth. Where is a film like Brakhage's located within Mulvey's theory of the "male gaze?"

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This page contains a single entry by zimme313 published on March 9, 2013 12:15 AM.

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