The Male Gaze and Voyeurism

The male gaze can be seen through paintings, pornography, cinema and even in day-to-day life. It is often created by women appearing beautiful, made for pleasure. Film teaches us how to see and how to desire, and those such as Laura Mulvey wish to destroy the idea of beauty that films represent.
Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan believed there was a connection between artist, artwork and psychoanalyst with all three working from the subconscious. Artists, artworks and analysts try to make use of the creative potential of the subconscious. This reveals hidden meanings, forces and secrets of the ego and the mirror phase.
This links closely into voyeurism where voyeurs;

  • are perverts,
  • take pleasure in looking without permission,
  • take pleasure in looking from a safe distance,
  • objectify what they look at,
  • do not treat people as real active subjects but as fantasy images and things to consume,
  • voyeurism is often sexually motivated.

There is no view from nowhere, that looking is a choice, a desire. Art works this way too. In the film Rear Window,  it highlights that the world is for men, and not for women, and they are able to look at anything [including through people’s windows] without being challenged. In nude paintings, women are often stripped of their identity and reduced to their erogenous zones, which are clean shaven and beautifully presented. The pubic hair would not make her the ideal woman.
When switching roles and imagining the female gaze, it is laughable and not serious. Even in artwork, people avoid these in galleries, or avoid them all together because it is ‘unnatural’ for women to return the gaze that men created.
I wish to look at the male gaze through my work, looking at whether it is still appropriate now, in the 21st centry, and whether the female gaze can catch on. I would like to try returning the gaze through my work, to show that women can be serious about this, and that it is no longer a laughing matter.

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