How have women been portrayed through photography?
The gaze deals with how the audience views the people presented in visual culture, in this case, adverts, magazines and Cinema. The ‘male gaze’ is the male ability to exercise control over women by representing them in visual means as passive, sexual objects of male desire. The power of men over women has always existed. They are seen as the more powerful and clever species. This control over women has been seen predominately in linguistics senses in past times. It is clear that there are more derogatory terms for women than there are for men. Men can also wolf whistle or cat-call in order to harass a woman but there is no such response for women. Men also have more linguistic power over women due to their social status in modern society. In more current times men have turned to visual arts to implement their control and power over women.
In this essay I hope to demonstrate how women are and have been portrayed in relation to the ‘male gaze’ and how it is still very prevalent in contemporary modern culture through photography and other mediums, such as, cinema and advertising. I will be analyzing the photographic work of Cindy Sherman, E.J. Bellocq, advertisement and the written work of Laura Mulvey and John Berger.
Traditionally imagined, written and produced by men, advertisements have long depicted women as men want them to be, sexy, obedient, fragile, instead of as they actually are. In this way, the male gaze is very predominant in modern advertising. John Berger put it in Ways of Seeing, “Men act and women ‘appear’. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.”[i] When women look at themselves in modern advertisements, they are encouraged to view themselves as a man might view them. Women have very few roles in the world of advertising. Mainly they are portrayed as domestic providers who do not make significant... [continues]
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