What is the Male Gaze?
Here's where it all started: Lauren Mulvey Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema synopsis
The Quick Version
A slideshow of quick quotes on the male gaze.
Gazing and Art
From a great Goodreads summary of Ravishing Images: Ekphrasis In The Poetry And Prose Of William Wordsworth, W. H. Auden, And Philip Larkin by Katy Aisenberg:
"But the relationship between the arts was less a marriage than a rape. These poets feared the wordless power of the other they described. They narcissistically created these images with the rhetoric of possession, domination, violence, or entombment."
Yikes. If I write in response to visual art, is there someway I can do it without being totally domineering?
Pretty much everyone is looking at someone with hubba-hubba eyes, and in the midst of all these meaningful glances, three people end up dead. One is a minor character, one is not exactly a surprise (you've heard of this story before, right?), and the last one probably shouldn't have grossed everyone out so much with her necrophilic smooches. The call it the "male gaze" for a reason lady, so I knew things were not going to turn out well as soon as someone starts making googly eyes and blazon-y speeches.
Being a "supervisor" is hard work. When the governess tries too hard to "fix" her charges (haha, that's old-timey lingo for 'look at'), she *spoiler alert* kind of kills one them. Turn it down a notch, Medusa Nanny.
Is There a Feminist Gaze?
Well, we're certainly trying. The feminist ekphrasis I've explored tries to find ways of reimagining stories to empower those who have had their subjectivity stripped away by the appropriating gaze.
Meanwhile, feminist literary critics like Rae Armantrout and Annie Finch question how mainstream lyric imagist poetics might embed an appropriating eye into their very logical structure.
In this arena, I'm reminded of growing up as a child of divorce. While the feminists and poets I look up to and admire don't exactly agree on how to go about this, I find all of them making compelling points.
I know some feminist poets and academics hate the metaphor inherent in "foremother," but I really do love all my intellectual and artistic women precursors (and contemporaries, it kills me to say that I follow humbly in the footsteps of women my own age and even younger). Even when they don't get along.