Re: Feminism for Men

From: Jack Sargeant (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Jan 18 2007 - 19:18:14 PST

> 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.

film has never EVER repressed female desire... i mean Valentino had
women screaming! they were not repressed! mulvey just should have
gotten out to the high street cinema more often and not sat in the
rarified atmosphere of the National Film Theatre.

> 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)

i don't see myself reflected in the characters in mainstream
hollywood films, nor in indie movies for that matter. i also don't
know about the mirror stage in Lacan as being essential for id, and
if it is then it's about seeing YOURSELF not seeing somebody you
relate to, the conceptual jump is too big.

> 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.

do blind people have sexual instinct? what about male masochists?
what about people who embrace costume play as part of their sex life,
aren't they actually taking on a different identity when they dress
up? is sexuality purely fixed on the triadic mother / father / child
relationship predicated by psychoanalysis? why the fascination with
active and passive? why does Mulvey embrace such a fixed universe of
psychoanalytical certainties?

> 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.

i can't see this being true. look at cinema audiences watching films
some time, we saw BABEL and the audience was full of young women
there to see Brad Pitt (you could hear them whispering and discussing
it). surely then he is a spectacle for active female gaze. we saw
MARIE ANTOINETTE and the audience was male and female, all enjoying
the spectacle.

the emphasis on LOOKING is also absurd, films are (often) about SOUND
as well.... so Mulvey privileges one sense over others, and even at
the expense of others.

> 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.

again for every film where male characters drive the plot there's one
with female characters, moreover this assumes that men only identify
with male characters and women with female characters...where do gay
people identify? or bisexuals? Mulvey - to me - is forcing cinema
into a straightjacket of psychoanalysis that assumes Freud / Lacan to
be correct, that people are all 100% male or female (even Freud in
his essays on sexuality said nobody is fully male or female, only
Mulvey would assume that!)...


> 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>.

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