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September 2002, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 2 Sep 2002 18:44:50 -0400
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it embarrasses me to be asking so elementary a question in such
a sophisticated forum, but i've been trying to rethink as carefully as
i can some complex foundational issues and i find myself stuck on
something that i thought i had long since worked through . . . so
any guidance on this will be most appreciated

here's the question:  in the system of film analysis associated especially 

 with SCREEN, it was taken for granted that, to quote jane gaines, "the ways
in which the masculine gaze controls  viewing within the film, sets up the 

spectator's viewing position, and coincides with the look of the camera in 

the classic realist text" all serve the "construction of male pleasure" 

now, assuming for the moment that this is analysis of the classic realist 
is accurate, what causes this to be the case, that is to say, why is it 

the following possibilities present themselves:

1.   in classic narrative film the story told is almost invariably that of 
a man;
thus the narrative focus forces the look to be a man's look ? note that if 
is the case then simply telling a woman's story and suturing the spectator 
an exchange of women's glances would work differently . . . the masculine
force of the text is then circumstantial, not a function of the textual 
system itself

2.  in our [patriarchal/late-capitalist/post-modern] culture the gaze is 
by males; it has become so much a feature of masculine hegemony that
even the gaze of a woman [or women] is coded as male . . . thus an economy
of looking is always  oppressive to women's subjectivity ? note that in 
this view 
the gaze CAN be female, but not in the present cultural climate

3.  given the psychodynamic foundations of masculinity and femininity, the 
cannot but be male . . . the regime of the visual is inherently 
patriarchal . . . 
female subjectivity and women's pleasure require a radically different 

no doubt there are other ways of explaining this as well which do not come 

immediately to mind, and i suspect that different theorists ?even those 
seem to agree ? might have different takes on which of these is central

in any case, i would be most grateful for any light that might be shed on 

thanks very much

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