Subject 3: Women’s Cinema

Over the holiday I read the book ‘Women’s Cinema: The contested Screen’ by Alison Butler. Two quotes by two psychologists stuck out to me.

Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women, but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of women in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object – and most particularly an object of vision – a sight. (Berger 1972:47)

This quote appears to have been written from the male gaze, however there could be an element of truth in it via the misogyny women have internalized due to the way women have historically been represented through film.

Scopophilia, voyeurism, fetishism and narcissism were the modalities of a controlling, punishing, self-regarding look with functioned to assuage the male subject’s castration anxiety at the expense of the feminine. (Kaplan 1983)

This quote explains why women are seen as passive within film. I’m inclined to believe that there is a good chance this may be why, however I’m also leaning on the assumption that it may also have a lot to do with the way women have been objectified throughout history.
My own work places the women in the role of dominance as there is a non-fetishised view of the body on display as well as a woman’s decision in showing the body.


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