The Official Blog for ENGL 41416.

In summarization the striking idea from reading Film and the Masquerade: Theorizing the Female Spectator  by Mary Ann Doane is that woman in film are seen through the view of pleasing men, and in trying to depart from this transvestitism forms in some women.

Doane presents the argument with the use of Freudian theory that femininity is enigmatic and like hieroglyphics are undecipherable.  From the reading women “harbor mystery” as do hieroglyphics but hieroglyphics are “the most universally understandable, comprehensible [and] appropriable [by] signs.” In definition of woman in film women are mysterious but easily read. Women being easily read is because the image of women in film is through the male prospective and what she can do to please man.

Doane says, “woman’s relation to the camera and the scopic regime is quite different from that of the male.” Noel Burch supports this idea by framing the image of woman in film as voyeurism and fetishism in favor of the male perspective. Through this idea Doane poses the rhetorical question, “what is there to prevent her from reversing the relation and appropriating the [the image of woman] for her own pleasure?” Irigarary says that men through film have an image of self but woman do not,

“the masculine can partly look at itself, speculate about itself, represent itself for what it is, whilst feminine can try to speak to itself…but cannot describe itself from outside or in formal terms, except by identifying itself with the masculine, thus losing itself”

            Later in the reading transvestitism can be supported but women trying to depart from the images they receive of femininity through the male prospective. Routledge says that “woman becomes a man in order to attain the necessary distance from the image” of femininity presented through film. Freudian theory of penis envy also supports this reasoning for transvestitism by women wanting the image and power or the image presented through film of males and masculinity.


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