Gaze and it's effects on the viewer is the subject for this week's readings, with a link to the MissRepresentation film in regards to how women are treated. The reading explains gaze, stating it “helps to establish relationships of power...awarding more power to the person who is looking than the person who is the object of the look.” (111) Being the viewer of the image grants authority over that which they are looking at, but also gaze within an image creates situations of dominance
“There is a long tradition in art of understanding the female nude as the project and possession of the male artist. In these paintings, the women are posed as objects of an active or ‘male’ gaze, and their returning looks are more often downcast, indirect, or otherwise coded as passive.” (123-124)
1) The following Calvin Klein ad, a classic representation of male gaze in media, features three men fondling a nearly nude woman. In this image, male fantasies of domination are projected on to a passive female, successfully asserting the prominence of male perspective in our culture.
Figure 1, Calvin Klein jeans advertisement
Retrieved from: https://mahagha.wordpress.com/tag/advertising/
Please respond to at least one of any of the following questions regarding Figure 1:
- “In systems of representation, meaning is established through difference” (111).
Only the men in the image are wearing the advertised jeans. What do you believe is the implication/purpose of this “difference?” What do you have to say about the ad’s disparities in representation--there being 3 men and only 1 woman? Does this say something about the ad’s intended audience?
- “The act of looking is commonly regarded as awarding more power to the person who is looking than to the person who is the object of the look” (111).
Who are we forced to focus on in this image--the three male figures, or the single female figure? Who is “looking” and who is the “object of the look?” What do you think this aesthetic choice says about gender roles, power and representation? Feel free to also draw on past readings such as Bordo’s "The Empire of Images", discussions we have had in class and on the blog, and the documentary we watched, Miss Representation.
2) “In systems of representation, meaning is established through difference.”(pg. 111) Essentially everything we understand about representation comes from knowledge of one side and basing the other side on it's opposite (in the sense that we know what culture is because it is the opposite of nature, or what Eastern countries are like because they are the opposite of our own Western ideologies).
I would like you, the viewer, to consider the following picture.
Figure 2, Opposite Sides (Illustration by Malcolm Evans from http://www.evanscartoons.com/index.php)
From understanding only one side of the picture, we start to make generalized assumptions of the other side. These assumptions translate into stereotypes, and eventually, these become common ways of viewing these opposite side (here, “white” or western culture versus eastern culture). Instead of ask your opinion on this, I implore you to look over your initial thoughts on images of other countries, cultures, and people different from you (that I ask you put here). What are these thoughts and where do you think they stem from? (I am asking you to open up a bit and be honest about your own possible bias toward other cultures, and explore possibilities as to why and how to correct them)
Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. “The Gaze and the Other.” Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ., 2009. 111-120. Print.
Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. “Gender and the Gaze.” 123-136 Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ., 2009. 123-129. Print.