Psychoanalysis/Spectatorship/Sexual Difference

April 13th, 2010

In Metz’s ‘From The imaginary Signifier’ he discusses how cinema differs from other forms of art. As opposed to pictures and sculptures and literature, they only have use one sense, visual. However, cinema uses two senses, visual and auditory. Since these two senses make the audience believe that this is real, like looking in a clear glass mirror. the audience has a passion while watching the film because of our desire to see and desire to hear. I see this being true when I watch films. Yesterday, I watched Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita. In this film, Humbart, our protagonist, is in love with Lolita, and in the beginning of the film, he stands from a safe distance and watches her. Watching this scene I thought to myself how uncomfortable he made me feel since he was watching/stalking from afar. Then I thought to myself that how can I think Humbart is weird when I am doing the same, watching Humbart from afar. Watching films is very voyeuristic.

Mulvey discusses visual pleasures and how people love to watch others just as much as they love to be watched. Aside from the male gaze, which comes up in many films, she also discusses three other looks that go into film. The gaze of the camera as it is being filmed, the look at the audience as they are watching it and the look of the characters towards one another within the scene. As the audience, we are aware of the gazes that go between characters, but we forget our gaze of watching the film.

Doane discusses female spectatorship. Usually it is the male that gaze towards the female. However, Doane is suggesting a reverse idea; that the female gaze towards the male to receive enjoyment. She discusses things like male strip-tease but I cant take it to maybe a more realistic approach. Maybe women dont need men stripping in front of their faces, but women are much more romantic creatures. I know when I am with my girlfriends and we are watching a film, we gaze at the men when they are romantic and sweep the female character off her feet. Everyone wants their knight in shining armor. I think that is what women gaze over more than male stripping.

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7 Responses to “Psychoanalysis/Spectatorship/Sexual Difference”

  1. elliotzahler on April 14, 2010 2:56 pm

    I really liked your post. I never thought about the concept that you mentioned, that when we watch a film or a show, or even a broadway show for that matter, we are sort of stalking/ being a peeping tom, becuase we are judging and watching every little detail without the producer or the actors knowing. What we do in our seats or in our bed while watching the movie is up to us, and no one will ever know.
    It is interesting the differences between men and women as far as fascination in the opposite gender. You are right that women are more into the romantic aspects of a relationship. Men unfortunately (lol) are into the female body and the sex involved as well. I can tell a difference between a female and male screen writer.

  2. Stephanie on April 14, 2010 6:54 pm

    I agree with you that women “gaze” at men differently– we do like to see them when they’re being Prince Charming. However I think that in this day and age we need to accept that women are just as sexual as men and that does inform a “sexual gaze” (the type of gaze normally associated with the male look). Look at films like 300, fighting for the men and half-naked (and sometimes fully naked) Gerard Butler for the women. I haven’t done much research on feminist film theory but if the first wave was recognizing the objectification of women, then I think the second wave would be women becoming bearers of the look.

  3. elliotzahler on April 15, 2010 2:30 pm

    Stephanie, I’m not a woman but I know women are not nearly into the sexual gaze as much as men. Men think about it about 70% of the day. We (guys) hardly ever think about shoes or what type of purse the actress is wearing.

  4. Stephanie on April 24, 2010 2:07 pm


    I find it slightly disturbing that you think women are less sexual than men! And to assume that all we care about (when watching a film) is what kind of purse the actress has, or which designer shoes she is wearing is archaic! Have you not seen Sex and the City?? While I agree that women (and here I’m using a broad generalization, since there are plenty of women who couldn’t care less about fashion) are interested in fashion, I can assure you we DO look at men and think of them in terms of sexual eye candy!

    Call me a feminist but we must destroy this idea that women are not “gazers”– there’s a reason why Valentino, Flynn, Grant, Power and Gable (just off the top of my head) were so popular among the ladies! : )

  5. Stephanie on April 24, 2010 2:07 pm

    Oops- so worked up I spelled your name wrong! Sorry!

  6. elliotzahler on April 28, 2010 12:50 pm

    Its Ok Steph that you misspelled my name lol. From what I picked up in class, the male is the observer and the female is the one being observed at. Perhaps this is becuase the media world is dominated by men and male producers or thats the way society agrees on.
    So I learn something new everyday.

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