Living in the gaze

If you are a woman then you will know all about the gaze. Your girlhood was an initiation into it and you learned of its power. You became a young woman and your sense of self- worth was determined by it. The gaze approved or disapproved, made you feel good or bad, drove you to starve or gorge, drove you to cutting, drove you to suicide. You tried to hide but soon discovered that outside of the gaze you simply disappeared. Dissolved. You have found that if it is hard to exist in the gaze, to age in the gaze is harder still. The gaze is brutal, violent and unforgiving. It invalidates and shames and obliterates those women who don’t conform as well as those who simply don’t measure up.

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Cinematic film is all about the gaze, how we look and how we are looked at. How women perform for the gaze is the essence of the cinematic experience, both within and outside of the frame.  I believe that film represents culture in a way that is more immediate and more accessible than any other art form. We are educated in cinematic language, we understand its code and nuances and absorb its meanings. We both influence and are influenced by cinema and we see our collective hopes, desires and nightmares reflected back at us when we watch the screen. In this blog I will be writing about cinematic film – with occasional forays into the art world – from a feminist perspective. I will be writing about films I love and films I hate, those that have made an indelible mark on me and those I wish I could forget. I will be writing about how film changes the dynamic and forces us to be both the viewed and the viewer, to be a voyeur whilst also being the subject of the critical gaze. This can make for a very disturbing experience.

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4 Responses to Living in the gaze

  1. “The gaze is brutal, violent and unforgiving. It invalidates and shames and obliterates those women who don’t conform as well as those who simply don’t measure up.”

    This is so true. And such a succinct measure of what women experience in every form of media–most notably film and TV. The images of women/girls in these media are always skewed by the gaze and then we are expected to both internalize that gaze and also re-visualize ourselves in that context, vitiating our own vision of ourselves and other women/girls. The male gaze blinds us to ourselves.

    • jacobetta says:

      Thank you for your comment. I think the patriarchal gaze is particularly toxic when we internalise it and turn it on either ourselves and/or other women. I love your last sentence ‘The male gaze blinds us to ourselves’.

  2. M.K. Hajdin says:

    Oh please foray into the art world! I’ll happily reblog you if you do.

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