The Male Gaze in Visual Culture

Authored by: Claire Sisco King

The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Communication

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138329188
eBook ISBN: 9780429448317
Adobe ISBN:


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The male gaze remains one of the most canonical and contested concepts in feminist media studies. Since Laura Mulvey introduced the phrase in 1975 in her study of Hollywood cinema, scholars have applied the concept of the male gaze to film, television, art, advertising, and myriad other visual cultures. Mulvey suggested that the cinematic camera positions spectators to assume the perspective of heterosexual male viewers, wherein women's bodies are objectified and commodified toward sadistic ends. Her arguments have raised questions about the limitations of and potential for spectatorial identifications, desire, agency, and resistance. This chapter will, accordingly, offer explication of Mulvey's theory of the male gaze and will also consider other intersectional perspectives that have deployed, critiqued, and expanded this concept, arguing for both recognition of the hegemony of the male gaze and its limitations.

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