Thursday, 31 October 2013


‘according to usage and conventions which are at last being questioned but have by no means been overcome - men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at’  - (Berger 1972)

Women internealise the gaze 

Hans Memling  ‘Vanity’ (1485) 

The mirror acts as a device, the audience want to look at her naked body and make it available. It creates a voyeristic approach

The woman in this image has a hand held above her brow, paryically cover eyes and we are the view are left to look at her body. We invited by the artist to gaze on the figure and the woman also does aswell through her body language.

Sophia Dahl for Opium

Photographers using a reclining pose, this version of the advert was deemed to be avertly sexual. The turned the advert on the side to try and change the emphasis.

Titans Venus of Urbino, 1538

The look in this woman, is from the side which is flirty, and inviting the audience to look at her body. The curtain also creates a sense of privacy. Her body language like her hands covering her privates also connnotes this

Manet - Olypia 1863

The woman lifts her head and directly addresses us. There are challenges to traditional views of the female body through the subtle differences of body language. 

Ingres 'Le Grand Odalisque' (1814)

Gurrellia Girls 

Interesting statistics and challenging a classic painting. The image 

Manet - Bar at the Folies Bergeres (1882)

He offers a scewed perspective through the mirrorr. In the paint you can see her full back which would not be realistic in real life. Whats reflected in the mirror behind he is the paris society that she is not apart of. She has a look of exclusion. This highlight the superficiality of the paris nightlife of the time.

Jeff Wall 'Picture for Women' (1979)

Shes copying the stance of the woman in the bar, he uses a mirror wall behind her, and has divideed the mirror into thirds. The camera is between them, there is a complex use of space between them. The bulbs are receeding off in the distance which create a sense of uncertainty

Coward, R. (1984)

The camera in contemporary media has been put to use as an extension of the male gaze at women on the streets. The model wear sunglasses which is a common use in advertising  so that she can;t return the gaze and so that the audience doesnt feel like there being looked at.
Eva Herzigova, (1994)

Looking at the tiny people below, empowered, he gaze is averted from the audience.
Coward, R. (1984)
The profusion of images which characterises contemporary society could be seen as an obsessive distancing of women… a form of voyeurism - 
Film: Peeping Tom, 1960
  • He films women and murders them
  • Watched her in the final throws of death
  • Objectification at an extreme
The quantity of male objectification is out weighed by women.

Marilyn: William Travillas dress from The Seven Year Itch (1955)

  • She looks at the way bodies a framed in films, such as close up.
  • Making the body particial and removing the character
  • Creating opportunities for fantasies
  • Women are not the leaders of the narrative, passive.
  • Cinemas are sexually charged place, dark, can't be seen
  • Pleasure in looking has been split in the active male role and passive female role
Artemisia Gentileschi ' Judith Beheading Holofernes' (1620)

In Griselda Pollock 'Old Mistresses' (1891)
  • Women ‘marginalised within the masculine discourses of art history’ 
  • This marginalisation supports the ‘hegemony of men in cultural practice, in art’ 
  • Women not only marginalised but supposed to be marginalised
Cindy Sherman 'Untitled film still' 6 (1977-79)

Denied the narrative for us to look at her
We can't look at her without feeling that awkwardness
Brings hand up to the face that mimmics paintings before

Barbara Kruger 'Your gaze hits the side of my face'  (1981)

Challenges the idea by using the word hits.

Sarah Lucas 'Eating a Banana' (1990)

Agressive challenge by the look at her self 

Sarah Lucas 'Self portrait with Fried Eggs' (1996)

A challenge to the gaze through her wide set legs, women with flat chest's

Why are there challenges to the gaze?

Caroline Lucas MP in June 2013: Page 3 debates

Campaign to represent women on british money:

Criado-Perez argued that as the Equality Act 2010 commits public institutions to end discrimination. She received up to 50 threats a day via Twitter including threats to rape and murder. Although she reported the abuse police lost evidence and she was forced to delete her account.

Lucy-Ann Holmes, who founded a campaign to end the publication of topless "Page 3 Girls" in The Sun newspaper last year, told the BBC that while she had also received death threats, she had not been subject to the level of "sustained attack" experienced by Ms Criado-Perez.

"I'd say it's a constant undercurrent, when women write about feminist issues or are exposed in a lot of media for speaking out about sexism they tend to get a barrage of abuse and threats," she said. (

Social Networking is used to perpetuate the male gaze/ the gaze of the media 

The body is broken into fragments-could be any female, plays on teenagers body consciousness, potentially carrying those perceptions into adult life.

Susan Sontag (1979) ‘On Photography’

  • 'To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed' 
  • The act of photographing is more than passive observing. Like sexual voyeurism, it is a way of at least tacitly, often explicitly, encouraging what is going on to keep on happening'
  • Paparazzi shots, a desire to see celebrities as ordinary people. 

Reality Television
  • Appears to offer us the position as the all-seeing eye- the power of the gaze 
  • Allows us a voyeuristic passive consumption of a type of reality 
  • Editing means that there is no reality 
  • Contestants are aware of their representation (either as TV professionals or as people who have watched the show) 
  • Carrying around a version of themselves being watched.
  • The Truman Show (1988) dir Peter Weir
  • Big brother: making voyerism an everyday activity, male and female gaze.

Looking is not indifferent. There can never be any question of 'just looking'.  - Victor Burgin (1982)

Further Reading

John Berger (1972) Ways of Seeing, Chapter3
Victor Burgin (1982) Thinking Photography
Rosalind Coward (1984) The Look
Laura Mulvey (1973) Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema
Griselda Pollock (1982) Old Mistresses
Susan Sontag On Photography (1977)

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