The Official Blog for ENGL 41416.

In Laura Mulvey’s Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema , she begins by telling her audience, “film reflects , reveals and even plays on the straight, socially established interpretation of sexual difference.”(833) She continues stating that, “woman’s desire is subjected to her image as bearer of the bleeding wound….man can live out his phantasies and obsessions through linguistic command by imposing them on the silent image of woman still tied to her place as bearer of meaning, not maker of meaning.” (834) Mulvey elaborates on a familiar theme of a voiceless woman seen in “The Laugh of the  Medusa” by Helene Cixous. But Mulvey does not interprete this woman through writing but through imagery, specifically the cinema. Where she states that, “the cinema satisfies a primordial wish for pleasureable looking, but it also goes further, developing scopophillia in its narcisstic aspect.” (836) The cinema allows the audience to exit their realm of living and enter a new realm or as Mulvey states, “the glamorous impersonate the ordinary.” This statement can justify our socities obsession with Hollywood stars and reality television.

Mulvey speaks on Freuds theory of scopophillia stating that, “it continues to exist as the erotic basis for pleasure in looking at another person as object. At the extreme, it can become fizated into a perversion, producing obsessive voyeurs and Peeping Toms, whose only sexual satisfication can come from watching, in an active controlling sense, an objectified other” (835) she concludes that the cinema audience posess this quality and further liek a child sees the cinema as a sort of mirror, in relation to Jacques Lacan’s theory of children and mirrors.

Since the cinema audience posses these qualities and the obsession people have with the human body directors must play into them where women are “displayed as sexual object….erotic spectable”(837). Woman in the film serve as a display and work against the storyline unlike men who, “cannot bear the burden of sexual objectification”(838) in other words the female body is much more interesting to look at. But Mulvey theorsizes that the “female figure poses a deeper problem” (840). Her lack of a penis inhibites her to be visually seen and will continually be seen as “the woman..icon, displayed for the gaze and enjoyment of men, the active controllers of the look, always threatens to evoke the anxiety it originally signified” (840).

In everyday life, not only in film, women are under the constant watchful eye of the man. Who continually regulates how women should act and how they should be seen.

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Comments on: "Woman on Display" (2)

  1. Donzell Evans said:

    I agree with the idea that men “cannot bear the burden of sexual objectification” even though I would like to see more men objectified in movies, as i believe eveyone would agree, women have been forced to deal with objectification that men have not had a change to experience. While Mulvey is writing of movies in the golden age of film making even today if there is any male nudity in a movie there is a buzz about his exposure, while it is the norm, which i am tired of, to see breasts or vaginas.

    • Donzell Evans said:

      The only time there is a problem with the sight of female genitalia in film depends on age and status of the actor in their career.

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