Re: Feminism for Men

From: Anna Biller (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Jan 18 2007 - 18:50:12 PST

I think that the ideas/ quotes from Mulvey's article below still
resonate because they're still true. Women are used to being looked
at instead of looking. For me personally, I get a thrill when I see a
movie where a woman controls the action and is the one looking. This
mostly happened in fetish films from the 1930's, such as the Marlene
Dietrich / Von Sternberg movies, Mae West movies, Johnny Guitar, etc.
There are some interesting feminist books out about the visual
pleasure specifically in these types of movies, and more recently
about the visual pleasure in certain 60's sex films with strong or
predatory women. But I think they all derived initial inspiration
from Mulvey's article and about what truths were there, and what
exceptions could be found. Aall of those "other feminisms" you
mention are part of this same discourse, they are not excluded by it.

Mainstream Hollywood cinema has represented the erotic realm using
the language and images of the patriarchal culture. It satisfies and
reinforces the masculine ego and represses the desire of women.

Cinema plays for the audience a function similar to the joyous
encounter of an infant with his/her image in the mirror. This
encounter is fundamental for the formation of identity (Lacan's mirror)

Active scopophilia implies a separation from the erotic object on the
screen, narcissistic identification demands identification with the
object on the screen through the spectator's fascination with the
recognition of his/her likeness. Active scopophila derives from
sexual instinct, narcissistic identification with ego libido or
sexual wants and processes associated to the ego.

Mulvey goes on to say that in our society pleasure of looking shows
the very imbalance of the patriarchal system. The male gaze is active
and the female gaze is passive. Women, in the world of images, are
displayed as sexual objects. The presence of women is an
indispensable element in spectacle.

The active male gaze/ passive male gaze dichotomy also affects the
narrative structure of movies. The narrative prevents the male figure
from the burden of objectification. Hence, men need to make things
happen, they are active, they forward the story. The man controls the
film phanstasy and is the representative of power as the bearer of
the look. The man carries this look behind the screen into the film.

On Jan 18, 2007, at 4:04 PM, Jack Sargeant wrote:

> oh yeah, i love it because it's such a source of contention...
> surely the sign of a good essay (even if i don't agree with it)..
> of course at a risk of being troublesome - i am still smarting from
> the banality of chuck's abuse - but perhaps it still resonates
> because it's still taught almost uncritically by old academics? i
> mean, it was written when i was 4! and it's still taught!
> personally i think kaji silverman's male subjectivity at the
> margins is more of a fun read (although again i disagree with its
> analysis in places...)...
> regarding the gaze: i find the notion of simply sharing a gaze
> based on gender too problematic, i think we filter our watching
> experience through our cultural experiences, social experience,
> sexuality, gender, and so on, not merely through a fear of castration!
> jack
> On 19 Jan 2007, at 10:53, Anna Biller wrote:
>> I see what you're saying. All the same, it was a fascinating topic
>> for her to go into, it was red-hot and it still resonates now. Why
>> is that? I completely agree that women may have visual pleasure,
>> and also that men may share a similar gaze. But her bringing it up
>> made so many people crazy, because there was something to it. As I
>> understand it, she went back later and took back some of what she
>> said, going back into classic women's melodramas for example, and
>> finding pleasure there. I don't think she was against pleasure,
>> just that she was missing pleasure that was created for HER, and
>> not pleasure created for someone else that she was also allowed to
>> enjoy as a bystander or a masochist.
>> On Jan 18, 2007, at 3:12 PM, Jack Sargeant wrote:
>>> sorry, my point was that this theory uses psychoanalysis, which
>>> posits presence of the phallus / vagina as castration and
>>> active / passive as real internal constructs (not social), i
>>> don't believe in psychoanalysis (although i enjoy reading Freud).
>>> when mulvey talks about men watching films she talks about
>>> castration and sadism and vouyerism and so on, not about the kind
>>> of political situation where men have more access to political
>>> power (which, i agree they do and yes i think that's wrong).
>>> mulvey - to my knowledge - wasn't writing about the social-
>>> political culture that i think you are (below), rather i think
>>> she was writing about watching movies (i don't mean that to sound
>>> sarcastic, i mean, literally i don't think she thought beyond
>>> that into say abortion rights or whatever which i remember being
>>> a big deal in 70s UK socialist feminism). now, to my way of
>>> thinking, contra mulvey, women may also have visual pleasure, men
>>> may not all share a similar gaze. moreover, why was she so
>>> against pleasure?
>>> jack
>>>> In the 70's, much more than now, men really were the aggressors
>>>> and the lawmakers. It wasn't women feeling sorry for themselves
>>>> or trying to create a false duality of active/ passive in their
>>>> own minds or fantasies, it was a reality. It was such a time of
>>>> women as playthings, and this really depressed some women.
>>>> Nowadays there isn't this pressure on women to be sex objects,
>>>> partly because of the work done by the 70's feminists. So I've
>>>> noticed that young girls today are very fully sexualized for
>>>> themselves, they flirt and feel sexy and are outrageous, and
>>>> they don't feel threatened or subordinated by it but empowered.
>>>> If anything it intimidates the men! But it was not like that at
>>>> all in the 70's, and many women felt like they were drowning,
>>>> drowning, and they wanted to scream and flail and accuse and be
>>>> aggressive themselves to show how ugly it was. And I do think it
>>>> worked.
>>> __________________________________________________________________
>>> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.
>> __________________________________________________________________
>> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.