Theorizing the male gaze

Topics: Feminist theory, Gender, Feminism Pages: 2 (538 words) Published: February 24, 2014
Mosinyiemang Othusitse

Feminist analysis has revealed that when feminism characterizes “The male Gaze” certain motifs are almost sure to appear; voyeurism, objectification, fetishism, scopophilia, woman as the object of male gaze and the bearer of the male lack. Masculine vision is almost characterized as patriarchal, ideological and phallocentric. Gaulyn Studlar has observed that, the female can function for the male only as an object of sadistic spectatorial possession. Nothing could better serve the paternal supergo than to reduce masculine vision completely to the terms of power, violence, and control to make disappear whatever in the male gaze remains outside the patriarchal and pronounce outlawed, guilty, damaging and illicit possessive every male view of woman. The paradox can become stark when male critics take up the feminist critique, with vengeance. Theory seems always to choose its paradigms as instances of what it already knows. Velazquez’s Rokeby Venus was used to try out this theory as is one of the most complex ‘exceptions’ in all Renaissance. The painting makes us to reconsider everything we think we know about “the gaze” and its positioning in desire. As compared to Carracci’s work Venus at her Toilet, the Velazquez may seem different as to be almost “about” different things not adornment but disencuberment not self-centeredness but solitude; the body not as object but span. Another painting “ Venus at her mirror” by Ruben which is crowded, obsessive foregrounding, its fixated authorial/spectatorial involvement of the image to that “male” place-all was compared with Velazquez’s work Contrasting the Rokeby Venus was Manet’s Olympia which is more radical than Velazquez’s work. Manet reverses the power relation and turns the visual dynamics back on male viewer. Velazquez on the other hand, with inner calibrations may open things radically- the place of viewing as...
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