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The Oppositional Gaze[edit]

Hello fellow Wikieditors!

I feel as if the Mulvey piece on "The 'male gaze' in feminist theory" should have a contrasting look at the gaze which is brought up by Bell Hooks with her theory of the "oppositional gaze" which is the desire to look. This idea comes from the attempts in the past to repress African American's right to gaze, making the white race dominate over them with power. It gives the individual more agency, free will, where black female spectators refuse to identify themselves with the film. This counter's Mulvey's idea that female spectators watching the film look through the eyes of the man, and objectify women through the gaze the same way a man would. [1]
The aspect of gender is highly recognized but this piece seems to neglect the idea of race that Bell Hooks elucidates.

(talk) 12:58, 3 May 2013

Male Gaze but no Medical Gaze[edit]

Should this article not be limited to a discussion of "Gaze" as a whole, with a possible listing of links to articles on specific forms of gaze? Why is Male Gaze given prominence over Medical Gaze, which as developed by Foucault is the benchmark for all types of Gaze? Perhaps removing Male Gaze to its own article and simply listing/linking to the various types of gaze (Ethnographic, Male, Medical, etc) would be advisable. (talk) 18:12, 25 September 2011 (UTC)

Problem in the article[edit]

This article has a problem in that it's largely incoherent. The syntax is so screwed up and fragmentary that it's not English. I'm not being mean, I'm just pointing it out. I'd fix it, but I don't know enough about Lacan to know that I'm fixing it right, and I can't parse what the article is trying to say.

Could someone who knows what they're doing address this, perhaps? (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 13:50, 7 October 2010 (UTC).

Initial comments[edit]

This article should be about the psychoanalytical concept of the gaze, a la Lacan, and derivative theories from foucault, feminists... whatever. The gaze as per common usage, "looking" should be seperated from this article into a different one entirely.

I see this has already been addressed. Gaze as it's normal non-jargonic usage should be the default entry and the content concerning the Lacanian term should be relocated.

This article seems like a very obscure usage of the term "Gaze" and should not be the default entry. Perhaps creating a sub-definition of it like "Gaze(Feminism)" or something to that effect would be more helpful to those trying to understand this usage of the term "gaze". --Bigbadman (talk) 13:53, 13 May 2009 (UTC) (Vive1936 (talk) 21:22, 26 February 2010 (UTC))

The text is anything that is written or produced for the purpose of being 'read' (or watched, but you are always involved in that watching; you cannot be completely passive, so I think 'reads' works better) by someone else. In academic terms, texts are usually those considered to have proven themselves of value in a certain way, but in literal terms and in critical theory, a text can be anything. This talk page is a text.

At the top of the page, there is a disambiguation link that says "for other uses click here" but it doesn't specify how the term is used in this page. It's very confusing. All i wanted was a definition of "gaze". --Bigbadman (talk) 13:49, 13 May 2009 (UTC)


My understanding of "the gaze" comes from Existentialism, particularly Sartre. That's gotta predate Foucault. It should probably be mentioned here. Nick Urban 07:34, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

Yes, I agree to. The Sartrean Gaze is very important to mention although all the postmodern things. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:43, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

Gaze and feminism[edit]

I take great issue with the sections "Gaze and feminist theory" and "Responses to 'male gaze,'" as both are extremely biased and possibly factually inaccurate. The Wikipedia is meant to be a neutral, factual encyclopedia, not a launching pad for anti-male propaganda by radical feminists who try to demonize male sexuality. Neither section contains any citations, and furthermore, I take issue with the following points:

First section:

  • First paragraph: uncited statements and personal hypotheses.
  • Second paragraph: heavy gender bias and personal assessments, e.g., stating that male=active, female=passive. {RIGRAX says: at least, to satisfy this complaint, add a citation from a source to reference either a "male=active" or a "female=passive" claim.]
  • Third paragraph: weasel words ("some advertising", "it is argued"), and heavy bias (total lack of regard for advertising featuring sexualized male models).

Second section:

  • First paragraph: first restates the hypothesis of the first section, then begins to offer an alternative viewpoint (which has been tagged with "citation needed," no doubt maliciously), but jumps immediately into an out-of-place sentence that attempts to refute the responses, even though the section claims to be about responses to the male gaze, not what extremist feminists think about the responses themselves.
  • Second paragraph: somewhat incoherent philosophizing about whether or not there is a female gaze. The female gaze obviously needs its own section, since many seem to agree that there is such a thing.
  • Third paragraph: out of place restatement of things found in the first section, continuing to attack the responses.
  • Fourth paragraph: attempt to refute the statement that there is a female gaze, along with highly sexist statements against men.
  • Fifth paragraph: out-of-place brief statement about nonsexual same-sex uses of "the gaze."

Thus, aside from the entire issue of the "male gaze," which, aside from the occasional cases of unwelcome lechery in which it might be a justifiable complaint, is mainly a wholesale attack on male sexuality, this entire section is heavily biased, uncited, and poorly structured. The radical feminist theory needs to be consolidated into its own section, the responses to their hypotheses need to be expanded and clarified (and protected from further abusive additions that give the appearance of neutrality through weasel words alone), the information on the female gaze needs to be given its own section, and the remaining out-of-place text needs to be either removed or revised. --HarmonicFeather 06:58, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

While I agree that this author should include some sort of verification, the research on this subject overwhelmingly supports this interpretation. It would be harder to find articles and books that argue from a different position. Mulvey links her idea of the gaze closely to Lacan and the Oeidpus complex, so one can easily see the roots of such binaries between male and female. Also, as uncomfortable as it might make one, the male/action, woman/passive is not a new configuration. Simply go to and begin searching through articles, there are simply too many to list here. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dchollis (talkcontribs) 16:54, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
If the research overwhelmingly supports it, the research needs to be cited. If citing it is "too much work," then the uncited claims need to be removed. It's this simple. Furthermore, it's not a matter of "comfort" or "discomfort," it's about accuracy versus ideological, subversive falsehoods. What "research" is being cited here? Is it objective research, carried out by independent universities, government agencies, and neutral parties, that has been carefully reviewed, published in independent, respected, peer-reviewed journals, and repeatedly reverified? Or is it unproven assumptions and hypotheses based upon poor samples, published in opinion pieces or publications lacking academic and scientific rigor, funded by biased individuals or organizations with a specific agenda to pursue? Not all purported "research" is created equal, and it is not my responsibility to support or disprove the claims in the article, it is the author's. If unbiased, peer-reviewed, scientific research can be added to the article, then we can begin resolving the enormous biases and problems in the article. Otherwise, the uncited, biased, and dubious assertions need to be removed. --HarmonicFeather 00:18, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

While research supporting a certain hypothesis should be cited, it doesn't mean the author of that section have to also write about the female gaze, especially when there is a lack of research and evidence on such topic. Neutrality concerns only the tone and presentation of that section itself. If you believe a section about female gaze should exist and there is sufficient research to use. Why dont you write about the female gaze to present the other side of issue, instead of debating the neutrality of the other section. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 13 December 2006 (UTC

Response to the initial post about feminist / male gaze theory: I'll work on the cites and also the language to make it read encyclopedic-tone, rather than lit theory journal tone. But the material is absolutely central to the development of the theory of "gaze". It's not taking a feminist POV to describe the feminist theoretical work on "male gaze", and all the ways that scholarly has developed since the initial feminist work. The "male gaze" has been an incredibly significant theory since Laura Mulvey's paper in the 1970s, and has led to a lot of theoretical responses, such as the "lesbian gaze". I think there may be some confusion between taking a particular POV, and explaining a particular POV. Taking a POV is of course not appropriate, but explaining the POV is absolutely vital to understanding critical theory. "Gaze" is, fundamentally, a critical theory concept about analyzing culture and media; it is inherently political. That has to be explained in the article. The article is a very good start for now, and we just need to work on the tone (and the cites) to make the NPOV stance of wikipedia apparent. --LQ 15:26, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

proposed rewrite of "male gaze" / gaze & feminism[edit]

Okay, a proposed rewrite that incorporates the existing text as well as explaining the asymmetry pointed out (rather awkwardly) in the current text. It also leads into discussion of the lesbian gaze and other explanations of the theory, which are currently lacking in the article. I'm leaving the cites out in this draft. If we can achieve some rough consensus, I'll put this in, and we can edit and add in refs from there.

The theory of "gaze" was first applied to an analysis of gender relations by Laura Mulvey in the 1970s,[1] leading to a significant body of scholarship assessing the "male gaze".
Within feminist scholarship analyzing the text of works, the theory of the "male gaze" permits analysis of the presumed (male) audience of the work in relation to female representation within the work. The asymmetric power structure of "gaze" is assessed along the axis of male-female relations. Some feminists have suggested that the "male gaze" is an exercise of power: the male viewer exercising power over the female subject.
[we really need another paragraph explaining it in more detail--it's a very significant theoretical construct; also could mention some of the material currently in the Laura Mulvey article, including the responses in her follow-up article "Afterthoughts on 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema'"]
(section head for influence on other scholarship, including other media, female gaze, queer gaze)
The theory of the "male gaze" has proven to be enormously influential, spawning both critical engagement with the theory, and broad application of it beyond the world of film studies and feminist criticism.
The "male gaze" is an inherently asymmetrical theory, based on feminist assessments of sexism in society and the production of cultural works, such as films, photographs, and advertising. Mulvey, the originator of the phrase "male gaze", argues that "the male figure cannot bear the burden of sexual objectification," suggesting that a female gaze may not even be possible. [citation needed] Another theorist, Eva-Maria Jacobsson, considers the female gaze to be "a mere cross identification with masculinity". [citation needed]Nalini Paul describes Wide Sargasso Sea, where the character Antoinette views Rochester and places a garland upon him to appear as a hero, and "Rochester does not feel comfortable with having this role enforced upon him; thus he rejects it by removing the garland and crushing the flowers."[citation needed] [I actually think this Paul/Wide Sargasso Sea example is a bit too specific for an encyclopedia article and would strike the sentence entirely, but put it here for discussion.]
However, some theorists have engaged the notion of the converse of a male gaze, disputing the impossibility or nonexistence of the heterosexual "female gaze". Some scholars [who?] have considered the question of female gaze, or sexual objectification of the male body, in advertising texts and teenage magazines.[citation needed] The Rochester Contemporary mounted a 1998 exhibition called "The Female Gaze", where female artists studied the male form. Therese Mulligan, the curator of the exhibit, described her experience of the female gaze: "To get these men who had leered at her on the street to strike these poses was amazing. And you could tell that they loved being looked at by her. These guys aren't attractive, but they sure think they are."[citation needed]
Some scholars have attempted to contextualize the theory within particular cultures. For instance, some have argued that in Western society, models and beauty pageants suggest that, while the male gaze exists, it is welcomed by the objects of the gaze, or not an exercise of power. [citation needed] The theory has also been applied by scholars examining "covering" of the female body, historically and in contemporary non-Western cultures. [citation needed]
While Mulvey initially applied her work to an assessment of "cinematic spectatorship," the theory has been in influential in other media as well. In advertising, for instance, the concept of the "male gaze" has led to significant work assessing the uses of sexualized images of women's bodies in response to a presumed male audience. [citation needed] The theory has also been applied in literature criticism. [citation needed] It has even been examined in science: some evolutionary psychology scientists have accepted the notion of male gaze, offering a possible evolutionary biological explanation for it. [citation needed]
The notion of the "male gaze" has also been significantly influential in queer theory, where scholars have offered analyses of the "lesbian gaze" and the "queer gaze". [need more written about this]

Does this proposed rewrite adequately address the concerns listed above? Does it still retain the flavor and content of the existing article? Are there major areas that are not included? --LQ 16:16, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

  1. ^ Laura Mulvey, 1975, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, Screen.
And, there's a resounding silence. Come on. Let's get some discussion going, and some accord, so we can get those POV tags off the page. --lquilter 00:15, 23 December 2006 (UTC)
While it's great that we're discussing this issue, I take some issue with several parts of your rewrite. For one thing, it suffers from many weasel words (e.g., "a significant body of scholarship") and passive voice (e.g., "was first applied to an analysis of gender relations by Laura Mulvey"). There are also some confusing statements (e.g., "feminist scholarship analyzing the text of works ... permits analysis of the presumed (male) audience of the work" seems to imply that the scholarship will analyze, and be read by, men). There's also an apparent contradiction: in the paragraph discussing the "female gaze" being posited to be impossible or merely a type of "male gaze," the second part of the paragraph implies that a man being gazed upon disliked it in much the same way that some feminist scholars have discussed, contradicting the earlier assertions. The paragraph discussing the "Female Gaze" exhibit begins discussing that phenomenon, but then transitions into a quotation of a woman saying that (apparently) unattractive men enjoyed being gazed upon. I'm not sure the relevance of her opinion, or why it belongs in that paragraph.
Other than those criticisms, it seems much better, however. But it does still need quite a bit of work. --HarmonicFeather 21:58, 24 December 2006 (UTC)
Great, please do some edits to improve it. My main hope is to fix the ridiculous oversegmentation and "POV" templates currently in the article. The weasel words that you mention pretty much come from the article itself, and I agree they should be fixed -- I added {{fact}} templates. ... As for the contradiction b/w female gaze & earlier assertions - yes there's an apparent contradiction in the text, as there is in the scholarly literature. A number of feminist scholars stated there was no female gaze; then some others came along & said no wait, there can be a female gaze. I tried to mark that with "However..." indicating contrast. It's all talking about the critical theoretical literature, so we are reporting on the way the field's scholarship has gone. ... HarmonicFeather is the main critic on the one side, so if we could get some comments from the other side that would be good.--lquilter 16:17, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
I will try to do some edits on this soon. My main concern is that we keep the Wikipedia fair and neutral, as it is supposed to be, instead of allowing bias and hidden agendas to creep in and distort what are supposed to be encyclopedic articles. --HarmonicFeather 19:53, 6 January 2007 (UTC)

I support the use of wikipedia as an unbiased research tool, but I must say this situation requires a good deal of attention to exactly what 'equality' will look like in the context of the theory of the male gaze. The male gaze is a feminist critique of inequality-- a response to a form of exploitation in the cultural milieux that has been documented at great length by various authors. Therefore, regardless of your personal critiques, it stands to be represented in most accurately in the context that those who participated in its creation had intended. Honestly, as a male-bodied/socialized individual, I'm slightly taken aback that concerns about the neutrality of a feminist theory by (presumably) other men. If it is clearly stated in the theoretical and thoroughly cited, I hardly see why this requires any more scrutiny than the creationist or big bang theories. There is a rejoinder section below intended for any cavils you could possibly have. Footloose-lautrec (talk) 04:16, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Explain why gaze is unwanted[edit]

This article could be improved by explaining more clearly why some feminists feel threatened or harmed when people look at you. Is it painful to be seen? Is it damaging to be desired?

My whole life I have wondered why women refuse to make eye contact. How is one supposed to strike up an acquaintance with someone who pretends you don't even exist? Is not this studied avoidance a form of gender politics and power play? If a man lowers you by looking at you, wouldn't the best retaliation be to get even by looking back?

I think there is a lot of valuable information that could be added to this topic to help the genders understand each other's point of view. 13:52, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

Reply: It is not painful to be seen or damaging to be desired. The problem, and the way in which gaze is different than simply seeing, is that the male gaze defines the thing it is viewing. So the gaze implies an imbalance of power, making the viewer a subject and the viewed an object. As a woman I exist only when seen by a man, and what the man chooses to see defines what I am. (The classic example of this is the guy who looks at my breasts, not my face, when he talks to me). 18:57, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

I still don't understand. (And I'm not trying to argue with you, just to ferret out some information that could be added to the article.) If a man looking at your breasts turns you into an object and gains power over you, couldn't you even the score by looking at his crotch, turning him into an object and gaining power over him? 17:36, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
It seems like a pertinent question, that has gone unanswered for over 8 months now. Can anyone improve the article by explaining how women who are allegedly harmed by male gaze can't just get even by gazing back? Or is this whole topic just a bunch of unsupportable baloney? (talk) 21:04, 17 May 2008 (UTC)
There's more to the gaze than staring at breasts; it's much more subtle and pervasive than that. When it comes to breast-staring though, gazing back sometimes works, but not always. It depends if the gaze is aggressive or just clueless. If you gaze back at his face, it's usually interpreted as interest. If you stare at his crotch, the aggressive guy may still see it as a come-on. Giggling while staring at his crotch may prevent this, but could also provoke aggression. If you're a straight man, imagine being surrounded by much larger gay men who are staring intently at your body. Would you really want to stare back? ( (talk) 16:02, 7 June 2008 (UTC))
So the eyesight is not the real problem; rather, it is the worry that someone will attack you. I suspect that at least 99% of the people who look at you are not actually planning to attack you, but I don't have a citation to back it up, so maybe another editor can supply that. At any rate, if you fear attack, the appropriate response is to be prepared to defend yourself, not to insist that nobody in the world is allowed to look at anyone else. Can't you see how incredibly isolating and unnatural that is?
And attacks, of course, can target men as well as women, and can also be perpetrated by either gender. Labeling the fear of attack "male" anything is blatantly sexist, and when the main article goes so far as to assert that when women look at men they are also temporarily male... well that goes beyond sexist to downright absurd.
A far more interesting question, then, is why people who fear attack -- based on nothing more than being looked at -- still choose to remain defenseless. I propose the "male gaze" section be moved to Victim disarmament and rewritten to discuss why some people work so fervently to keep everyone weak and powerless, and why so many potential victims willingly submit to it. Oh, and let's see if we can discuss that without sexism, OK? (talk) 13:51, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
As a woman I exist only when seen by a man
So presumably you didn't exist while you were writing that, unless a man was standing there watching you? (talk) 13:51, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

To the fellow above who asked why a female wouldn't respond with a gaze at her breasts by looking at the man's crotch. What immediately comes to mind is the power to frame the situation in the first place-- let me put it this way, if a larger man hits you in the face, isn't it completely in your power to hit him back? Of course it is. However, wouldn't one prefer to not be punched in the first place?

And the other (presumable) fellow who observed that 99% of the male-bodied people who gaze have no violent intention, how do you suggest the objectified female discerns who that dangerous 1% is? The environment created when it is considered acceptable to examine someone as a sexual prospect and regard them as such creates an environment conducive to violence. It's much easier to act upon an object than a subject. Footloose-lautrec (talk) 05:30, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

So this is not about looking at all but rather (the usually unwarranted fear of) violence. Let's rewrite it to make that clear, cite some encyclopedic quality references, and explain things in terms that make sense to the average reader seeking to learn, instead of saying things like I don't exist unless a man is looking at me, or looking at me magically turns me into an object, but looking at a man does not turn him into an object. Also let's not equate looking with hitting, unless you have a reference that explains such an unintuitive idea, and can be reconciled with the thousands of women who voluntarily, without being paid, invite male gaze on web sites and in person at public events etc.
And since the largest woman is not smaller than the smallest man, wouldn't it be more accurate to say that the fear resides in smaller weaker people who choose not to be prepared to defend themselves, rather than pretending the fear exists in all women and no men, and that all men are potential attackers? Making blanket assertions about "all" members of any group is inherently prejudiced, and when the groups are divided by gender it is blatant sexism -- something feminists claim to oppose. So how do those advancing this hypotheses reconcile these internal inconsistencies? This article still needs a lot of rework to make sense. (talk) 18:03, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
It's not all about violence though. The punching example is an analogy showing why attempting to objectify men is not a solution, Objectification can lead to violence, and does, but it's also about the lack of respect or fair/equal treatment. The male gaze is understood as portraying women only as sexual servants--that is the bane of our existence. Lovely. Receivers of the male gaze are not viewed as people anymore, leading to many social problems and inequalities. It's not really about fear either, since the male gaze is present both in violent and nonviolent situations. As a woman I am a person, and would like to be treated as such, but the male gaze reduces me to an object of men's pleasure. If I refuse to conform I become a social deviant, and exist outside most social spheres, so there is great pressure to submit to the male gaze. It's about equality, and the fact that the theory is directed toward one gender is not the fault of the theory. The "blanket assertions" referenced above are created by society, and the male gaze theory analyzes these stereotypes--it does not create them. (talk) 08:53, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
As a man I am a person, and would like to be treated as such, but the female gaze reduces me to an object of women's pleasure.
True or false? Why? (talk) 12:43, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

In lieu of the sufficient time to draft a response, I would like to offer a suggestion to that may assist us in resolving this impasse. Making blanket assertions about "all" members of any group is inherently prejudiced, and when the groups are divided by gender it is blatant sexism -- something feminists claim to oppose. So how do those advancing this hypotheses reconcile these internal inconsistencies? This article still needs a lot of rework to make sense. It appears to me the logical 'inconsistencies' that concern you appear to be a deeper moral dissonance with the central tents of feminism itself. I encourage you to pursue answers to your questions about feminist thought, yet the talk page is hardly the place (I would even be glad to give you my email address to answer your questions in a more practical setting). Here we're attempting to present a concise summary of the thought, which need not be further confused by meshing it with it's critique. There are plenty of 'post-feminist' thinkers as well as reactionary detractors whose contributions should be placed in the typical separate 'criticism' box.

I'll say again, a theory or criticism in response to inequality should not be held to an arbitrary emphasis on neutrality. The only neutrality that should be preserved is the abstention of one's contrarian opinions while participating in the supposed impartial authorship of wikipedia.

(Footloose-lautrec (talk) 05:53, 20 November 2008 (UTC))
Many people seem to be taking the idea of a "gaze" far too literally. It's not a "thing" that you can observe in effect - it isn't the mere fact that a man is "gazing" or looking inappropriately at a woman, or anything like that. It's a theory, part of feminist philosophy, that most things are "seen" from a male standpoint. The idea that women are "temporarily male" isn't ridiculous - it's perfectly sound from a philosophical point of view. We aren't saying that women literally change to something else or that anyone is a loony, trying to say that we are all male.

It's about power structure and I don't think people here seem to understand that. The way the responses here are going, it really looks like people are taking this too literally. Feminist theories are ideas and ways to view the world - they aren't actual REALITIES of what you can see when you look around you. They relate more to subtle things that are in effect all the time. You have to understand this before you start criticizing it. It is not sexist or man-bashing to say that the male gaze exists. Rediahs (talk) 02:45, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

Using references would help make this section more interesting. Simply hearing some random person's opinion about feminism or "male gaze" is not why people come to wikipedia. Wikipedia is not a platform for personal expression, but rather an objective reference tool.--Bigbadman (talk) 13:57, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

Proposal to delete or rewrite[edit]

Given the boatload of incomprehensible nonsense in the main article, and the failure of this discussion page to back up or explain the claims for well over a year (see sections above) I propose that the sections The Male Gaze and Feminist theory and Responses to the "Male Gaze" be deleted and/or entirely rewritten. Rather than taking this action immediately I will give others some time to respond and defend the claims of this article. (talk) 19:09, 4 October 2008 (UTC)

It needs to be rewritten, not deleted, because it is a legitimate and real topic. It just needs to be clear, a lot more informative, and more source verifications. Regardless, the lack of such characteristics doesn't remove the importance of including the topic. Sooperhotshiz (talk) 05:32, 30 November 2008 (UTC)

I am for deleting the section — Preceding unsigned comment added by Vive1936 (talkcontribs) 05:50, 9 February 2012 (UTC)

Deleted section[edit]

I deleted this section as no further progress has been made recently, poorly cited, poorly written,and bias. Pinkycatcher (talk) 05:03, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

I restored. Deletion of a whole section because it is poorly written is inanmissible. The section looks reasonable, despite the drawbacks described above. However the above contains suggestions about rewriting, i.e., the critic recognizes that the topic has its merits. :P.S. Please keep in mind that in wikipedia talk pages the new talk is placed below, not above the old talk.Mukadderat (talk) 04:27, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

This section was restored by a sockpuppet account which has now been banned, and was restored in light of a semantic argument. The section in question has been an uncited, biased mess for years now and yet it remains. The fact of the matter is, the only references in the section are actually in contradiction to the section's reason for existence, and the section contains nothing but original research and ideological shenanigans. Beyond that, the text fails to make any real point and segues from topic to topic remarkably often for such a small amount of writing.

I honestly think that it's an embarrassment that this kind of drivel has remained in this article for so long, and I seriously doubt neither the opposed ideologies nor impartial readers wish to be represented by or assailed by three paragraphs of gibberish and rhetoric. I'm deleting this section on the grounds that it is nonsensical, irrelevant, biased and uncited. I do not have the necessary knowledge to 'fix' it, and since those with necessary knowledge have made no effort to do so in an exceedingly long period of time, I will assume that the section is as meaningless and unsalvageable as it appears. (talk) 14:25, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

What section are you talking about? Referrinf to it as "this section" isn't really that helpful69.196.182.46 (talk) 13:46, 24 March 2012 (UTC)

Update 2012: Still no revision[edit]

The article has seen no improvement in almost 6 years. It needs to be improved now! If there has been no effort to improve the article within May 1st 2012 I will take it on me personally to read up on and rewrite the whole page, especially concerning the male gaze.

The hypothesis is legible and can with effort be observed from nearly any part of the entertainment industry. It is not necessarily only referred to as a male gaze, but can also be rendered as sexualization of the female sex. While this talk page has digressed largely from the original article, i.e. talk has been about a "real" male gaze and how women feel objectified when viewed by male peers: The original article stems that the male gaze is a problem in the entertainment, advertising and other related industries, where women are objectified in order to appeal to a male audience.

Defining it the male gaze is something that reaches the root of feminism, namely male dominance in the society. To illustrate it in relation to the entertainment industry; a movie with a female character in it, aimed, at a general audience tends to sexualize the female character by making her more appealing to a male viewer. It is achieved by focusing on certain body parts of the female during the movie, or by having her wear clothing revealing her character (body). In videogames sexualization is more obvious than in other entertainment forms. The protagonists are usually male more often than not with a sexually appealing side-character, or reversed, the protagonist is a sexually appealing female character, with a not too handsome male character. This is also largely the reason why we have seen fewer females play videogames through the years, and why males have been the main audience. To hypothesize on this. Take in this following discovery: In video games there is another phenomena which is very prevalent to this debate. Slightly under 50% of male gamers, when they have a choice, tend to use a character of the opposite sex (female) in a game as opposed to one of the same sex (male). Reasons for this, as stated by male players, is that male avatars are usually repulsive in their opinions and that female avatars are at least "cute" (objectifying). One can deduce that their choice are based on looks and not on how deeply one can identify oneself with the character. Interestingly this leads to another discovery. That male avatars in games are usually a sexual objectification of a male, a female gaze, and males feel uncomfortable with being objectified, thus choosing to play as a female character. Comparatively most females playing games stick to a character of the same gender (female). The female characters being "cute" are undoubtedly made to satisfy the male gaze. Yet while females actually do choose to identify with someone, that might not even closely resemble them looks-wise, males tend to avoid this and rather choose "eye-candy."

If such a discovery can be applied in larger and more general fields then we can effectively deduce:

- Males are more compelled by sexually attractive visuals than females. - Females more easily accept objectification than males.

To finish it, imagine playing a game like "Skyrim." Male avatars aren't as stereotyped as iterated upon earlier, yet you choose a female avatar this time. When you are about to marry in-game, your only options are male characters. How do you feel about seducing another male, even though you are playing as a female character? How do you think a female would have acted in a reversed situation (male character seducing a female)?

In the end males and females were, and are different for many reasons, that is why we can live in symbiosis, on the surface male dominance is apparent and not so much an NPOV as certain "males" want it. If this fact is acknowledged it renders the whole discussion here as well as the need for citations in such an article moot. Yet as I stated over, I will take it on myself to improve the gaze article by citing research I already know of, used in this comment (I have had no time to cite and link here however, people can use the internet if they doubt any of my above arguments). (talk) 07:23, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

Despite my sleepless though vibrant state, I’m utterly speechless and too lazy to individually respond to these arguments, so I'll only state the following. The majority of these arguments are fallacious, refutable, purely subjective, unwarily (and ironically) anti-feminist, sexist or antiquated conjectures that would only degrade the articles merit.LLLookAtYouHacker (talk) 06:04, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

I have addressed the slight NPOV issues I saw. I don't think the issues were major--it was mainly just how a few things were worded. Aside from some style improvements (I hope!) the aim of my edits was to maintain the point that this section addresses a particular perspective--a feminist perspective of which I am unqualified to say whether it is right or wrong. So there are probably too many phrases now like "may be seen as", but it is better, in my opinion, than saying "it is".

Because my edits are made in good faith and are explained here, please do not revert them summarily. Instead, make specific changes as needed to make the article better.

I do not feel the NPOV tag is warranted any longer, and I will remove it now. Taquito1 (talk) 02:34, 25 March 2012 (UTC)


I'm not sure where the accusations of non-neutral POV are coming from, here. Male gaze is a feminist theory, and it's impossible to describe the theory without talking about feminist ideas. That's not non-neutral POV, that's writing a definition. I rewrote the male gaze section to describe what the theory is about; I have no agenda other than to let visitors to the page understand an influential idea. I haven't listed sources because, frankly, I'm late to breakfast, but I'd very much like it if before editing out my changes, you explain why my description of *what people mean when they say the words "male gaze"* is factually incorrect. An encyclopedic article about a theory should say what the theory is. That's not bias.Hlemonick 12:08, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

Yeah I don't know what the problem is either. I just stumbled across this page, and the male gaze section is right in line with every theory I've ever been exposed to in women's studies and art history. Nothing POV about it, you've simply explained the concept.Rglong 17:09, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
Hmm actually it could use some more explaining, because it seems to jump from the definition of "male gaze" as relating to a broad male-dominated social construct, to a more superficial definition of just guys looking at stuff, and then goes on to say that, hey, girls look at stuff too, whadyaknow. That's not exactly what "male gaze" is all about. "Male gaze" is significant in male-dominated cultures like ours because the balance of power between genders is inherently unfair to begin with, therefore even if a woman were to "gaze" at a man lustfully it wouldn't carry the same meaning or weight - the male is in power so the female has less power to objectify him except in rare, specific situations. I don't doubt men can be objectified by women and other men in certain contexts, and as women's equality progresses of course things are changing. But "male gaze" from my understanding does not apply to an idealistic future where women are finally equal to men, it applies to our time and the times just before us in our culture, in which men have social and economic power over women.
Long story short, I think it needs some sort of transition paragraph, more about the historical context to which it applies, and more about how progress in the equality of women may diminish male dominance and therefore diminish the importance of a specifically "male gaze".Rglong 17:09, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

What's missing is any acknowledgement that the "gaze" is any less certain a phenomenon than the sunset. Even for a statement as uncontroversial as "dinosaurs are cousins to the birds" one would acknowledge that there's a debate, and try to quote both sides. What's NPOV about this article is the way it innocently pretends the "gaze" is an established fact. We also need quotations from critics who regard it as paranoia towards hetero men. Surely Christina Hoff Summers or former NOW president Tammy Bruce could contribute a quotation or two about the Weltanschaung behind a concept like the male "gaze." Contemporary feminism embraces sex and shies away from neo Puritanism. There's even a new feminist field, Porn Studies! Here at SFSU we just held a conference on it. Best, Profhum (talk) 03:31, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

The first sentence in the article describes it as a "concept", and it is referenced throughout as a theoretical philosophical construct. It doesn't "pretend" it's an established fact; it describes it as a theory, then describes the theory. God knows this article needs a lot of work; it's gone downhill as a result of people constantly trying to insert "masculinist" critiques of the theory to counterbalance some supposed feminist conspiracy, instead of just writing an article describing the concept and responses to the concept. So please do propose some specific edits and improvements, but please don't make specious arguments like "what's missing is any acknowledgement ... that 'gaze' ... is [not] a phenomenon." --Lquilter (talk) 17:00, 13 February 2008 (UTC)
I as well don't understand what the controversy is. It doesn't matter whether you agree with feminist theory or not. The beginning clearly states IN FEMINIST THEORY,....
Nobody is pretending it's established fact. Obviously when you describe what feminist theory thinks, you have to say... what feminist theory thinks about it. It isn't validating it. It's simply explaining it. It needs to be explained. Rediahs (talk) 02:49, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

Possible reference[edit]

I'm not sure how well this fits in with the way Wikipedia articles link to external sites, but this works fairly well as a "description" of the male gaze. The next few strips are good, too. IMFromKathlene 06:49, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

More Foucault[edit]

I think this page needs to discuss the gaze as Foucault describes it more. It accepts that Foucault is one of the important figures in defining the gaze, and the article links to the medical gaze article, but it's missing details on Foucault's take on it, especially, I think, the gaze as its described in Discipline and Punish, the state's gaze as opposed to the medical gaze. That's where the unequal power relations really come into play. 02:38, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Quality, readability, informativeness[edit]

This is one of the worst articles I've come across in WP, and I am speaking from no POV. It is full of jargon, and is in places nearly impenetrable. For starters, the introductory paragraph should focus on what the article is about and why it is important, rather than on where the concept comes from. Beyond its first sentence (which itself is not very helpful), it does little than mention things that will be completely unknown to anyone unfamiliar with the subject of the article. The section on "Forms of Gaze" (presumably the author means "Types of Gaze") does a poor job of defining the types, rather than just listing them (and linking to articles unhelpful in this context). "Effects of Gaze" has no structure worth mentioning, simply leaving the reader to find his or her own way out of the pool of mishmash. I suspect that this topic is notable, but it's hard to tell from the evidence adduced here. </spleen> Elphion (talk) 18:53, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

I agree with the above comments. This article is terribly written, and consists of mostly post-modernist jargon. The article should be written in a clear and concise manner (not in the style used by post-modern studies).
Furthermore I think that this is *not* what the default article on "gaze" should be for Wikipedia. The common meaning of the term "gaze" has to do with the direction that a person or animal is attending with his eyes (and not to the philosophical discussions given in this article). With respect to this issue, perhaps the Wiktionary would be a better default link for Gaze. Additionally, there is actual scientific study regarding human / animal gaze (in fact, much work in the areas of physiology / neurobiology / experimental psychology has looked at the process of attending to an object/location).

This article is terrible. For one, it is terribly difficult to read. This seems to be true for many of the articles on post-modernism and feminism in Wikipedia, but is particularly true for this article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Maabus (talkcontribs) 02:47, 28 June 2011 (UTC)

Nonsensical paragraph[edit]

Sorry but paragraph three ("In cinema theory, Laura Mulvey identifies...") makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. NotFromUtrecht (talk) 14:38, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

Matrixial Gaze[edit]

The paragraph on Ettinger's matrixial gaze is unintelligible to a layperson, dense with what appear to be unintroduced, unexplained, and unlinked technical terms. This sentence in particular is an ugly mess: 'Rather, it concerns "trans-subjectivity" and shareability on a partial level, and it is based on her claim concerning a feminine-matrixial difference that escapes the phallic opposition of masculine/feminine and is produced in a process of co-emergence.' If trans-subjectivity is what separates this concept of the Gaze from others, it should be defined. As should the term feminine-matrixial, and what makes it feminine if it is outside the masculine/feminine dialectic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:48, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

NPOV issues with "Responses to the male gaze" subsection[edit]

This section in particular seems to have a few NPOV issues. First, when it says "In feminist theory, the male gaze expresses an asymmetric (unequal) power relationship..." it seems to be implying that only one feminist theory exists but their are many forms of feminism each with their own theories. Maybe it should read "In second-wave feminist theory..." to be clearer. Also, the rest of the section seems to make second-wave feminist arguments about "the female gaze" and "male perspective" without being clear that it's a second-wave feminist theory that is being explained. --Cab88 (talk) 05:21, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

Please develop consensus before removing any sections that in your opinion have issues that you do not agree with. Please attempt at developing consensus among interested editors who might have other points of view, thank you...Modernist (talk) 21:34, 5 November 2011 (UTC)
The concept of the "male gaze" (as a dom/sub concept of control, etc.) was developed during the second wave movement, so I think the idea of changing it to state so is totally acceptable. All of the Mulvey stuff is extremely overintellectualized, and this entire section really needs to be reexamined and rewritten to be less....over the top (I can't stand reading that Mulvey article, it gives me a headache.....despite being a major game changer in film and feminist theory). I have come to the conclusion that anyone who tries to explain it using it as a source makes it just as to tough to comprehend as Mulvey's original article; unless you are a feminist theorist yourself. A nice book that I'm reading that serves as a great source Staring: How We Look. I'd actually like to see an entire article devoted strictly to the concept of the male gaze, as there is enough documentation and so forth to create it. Perhaps after grad school I can work on it ;-) SarahStierch (talk) 04:31, 23 January 2012 (UTC)

I am removing the NPOV tag after making edits that I have explained above in the "2012" section. Taquito1 (talk) 02:37, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

Okay, POV tag is gone. I read the guidelines on removing such a tag. I recognize that I am deleting it without establishing a consensus here first. My rationale is mainly that there does not actually appear to be much controversy or active debate. Sure, people have been making POV claims since 2006, but there appear to be no active efforts to change much about the section, and little or no sustained debate. Notwithstanding, if anyone feels strongly that there are still POV issues, by all means, restore it--I will not take offense--although you should provide an explanation here if you do. I am doing my part by making constructive edits and giving my reasons. Taquito1 (talk) 03:00, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

Recent additions from CCT110 group[edit]

Recently, this article was substantially rewritten by several editors including JacobMazer and XKaochii. While much of the new version was an improvement, it unfortunately also included several copyright violations. For example, the 3 sentences below were copied verbatim from various books:

  • "The term 'gaze' sometimes carries connotations of looking long and intently with affection, awe, wonder, or fascination."
  • "The gaze is integral to systems of power and ideas about knowledge."
  • "The image of a woman as a passive raw material for the (active) gaze of man takes the argument a step further into the structure of representation, adding a further layer demanded by the ideology of the patriarchal order as it is worked out in its favorite cinematic form - illusionistic narrative film."

I would like to encourage these editors to read over Wikipedia:Close paraphrasing and rewrite the material in their own words so that it can be properly incorporated into Wikipedia. Kaldari (talk) 06:28, 30 March 2012 (UTC)

CCT110 group follow up[edit]

We apologize for the inconvenience. Not everyone in the group was aware that the information was coming verbatim from various books. We will be making the changes and are hoping to repost the changes we would like to make. Any further advice can be made to JacobMazer's talk page. —Preceding undated comment added 15:13, 30 March 2012 (UTC).

  • I applaud the recent revisions, but this article still needs a lot of work. It's confusing and has poor structure and does not introduce the idea of gaze at all (especially since most people are not familiar with the definition of gaze as described in this article). I've added several tags to note some of the issues. Chaldor (talk) 03:43, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

If I may may a suggestion: perhaps it would be useful for editors to view the [original revisions] of this article and consider using it as a template for further revisions, as the content seems to have come a long way since then. While those early revisions may not be as content-rich, it seems to me (one untrained in this field) to be far more cohesive, intelligible, and informative. IMHO, the current revision lacks greatly in those categories. Zujua (talk) 05:28, 14 July 2012 (UTC)


Back in March 2012 a new user expanded the introduction for this article into a lengthy essay. Please don't do that. It's the purpose of the introduction to introduce briefly, not to hold forth on subtleties or show off vocabulary. I've taken the bold step of reverting the intro to what it was before. (talk) 23:36, 21 October 2012 (UTC)

Maybe an "old user" such as yourself should have consulted WP:LEAD first. The "new user"'s lead was a bit better than what you have reverted to. The lead needs to a summary of the article not a teaser. Having said that, I would keep the first paragraph of the expanded version and possibly about half of the second paragraph in the lead. The rest of that elaborated too much on Lacan, so it should go into a section. JMP EAX (talk) 06:59, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
I really think there is more to a gaze that a power struggle as the article suggests, so when i found another take on the word, I added it. More could be done: We might even go into poetry and other literature. BeenAroundAWhile (talk) 03:27, 23 May 2015 (UTC)
For some ideas, see BeenAroundAWhile (talk) 03:29, 23 May 2015 (UTC)

Proposed Title Change[edit]

If this is going to be a page about feminist theories, then the title of the page should be changed to "The Feminist Male Gaze Theory" or "Gaze(Feminist Theory)." There are several pages on Wikipedia for "Gaze," but this is the only one without additional information in parenthesis on the disambiguation page. In fact, if the word is typed into the search bar, it doesn't even go to the disambiguation page, it automatically redirects here. This is potentially harmful. If a student, or anyone for that matter searches for "Gaze" because he/she does not know the meaning, and they stumble upon this mess, then there will be a lot of confusion. Misrepresenting this propaganda as the standard definition for the word "Gaze" is unacceptable. Keep it like it is if you want, but add something to the title that allows readers and researchers to differentiate between this and other, more widely used meanings. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:30, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

  • Setting aside the anti-feminist bias that may be represented by the user (alleging that it would be "harmful" for students to read this entry, for instance), I'm going to take the substance of the suggestions seriously.
First, the suggestion that "gaze" the theoretical concept(s) is maybe not the best fit for the main article. I almost agree, because it does seem like film / art theory would not be the first thing one would think of for a term that has other meanings too. Looking at Gaze (disambiguation), we also see gaze (physiology) and that might make more sense from a plain-English perspective as the first-line article, with gaze (visual theory) as perhaps the main name of this article, with redirects from gaze (art theory) or gaze (film theory) and gaze (theory). I say "almost agree", though, because "gaze" in theory is a much more developed article, and an important concept within visual theory; while "gaze" as physiology is basically a stub, and I can't really assess how important it is conceptually within, say, physiology, visual science, etc. Basically, however, I agree with the anon editor on this point -- I do think it's a little confusing or non-intuitive to have a theoretical concept be the head article, when it is derived from a general word or concept that is NOT the head article. Maybe this is one of the instances where the disambiguation page ought to be the main entry. ** I will say that, since the possible "gaze" head articles each pose concerns, that I don't think there's a very strong argument one way or the other. Other thoughts?
Second, the content in this article is unbalanced. The feminist theory / male gaze content is much more developed than any other part of the article. In fact, a separate, stand-alone article on "male gaze" would certainly stand on its own as a critical theory concept that is widely represented in scholarship and criticism. There's actually a lot more that could and should be done with this concept, and having it as a stand-alone article, would allow greater scope for exploration. Then the question would be how best to relate the more general "gaze" article to that. The usual standard is to summarize and link to the spin-off article ( "male gaze / feminist theory" ) as a paragraph or section in the main gaze (theory) article; I think that would work nicely. Thoughts?
--Lquilter (talk) 15:56, 3 March 2014 (UTC)
I agree that this article appears too specialized to be the main article on gaze, especially given its current lead. If someone can figure out how the contents can be circumscribed, I'd suggest adding a parenthetical. But it's not even clear what the article wants to be about. See my comment in the section above. If Lacan's theory is notable enough for its own article, as the lead seems to suggest then move it to Lacan's theory of gaze or something like that. On the other hand, if this page is about what random people wrote about gaze, which is what the body appears to be about, then the lead needs to be drastically rewritten. JMP EAX (talk) 07:10, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
I should add the these problems have been noticed since (at least) 2008 in some sections above on this talk page , and other editors asked for a scope clarification and/or full article rewrite. I guess nobody can find the time to reboot it. As for myself, I'd rather work on improving similarly crappy articles on topics that I know better, e.g. rasterization or vector graphics. Good luck with this one. JMP EAX (talk) 07:22, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

page needs refinement[edit]

It is great that there is a page presenting, mainly, Mulveys theory on the gaze. Hoever, it is slightly incorrect in terms of its reference to Lacan or as a page presenting the discourse on the gaze as such. Lacan changed his theory concerning the gaze towards his later work. In Lacan's later work the gaze is not anything ayone can attribute to a subject or subjectivity. It is rather an empty spot or a crisispoint in the scopic field or symbolic and linguistic order and announces something outside of language. Thereby the gaze, in Lacan, is something that distabilizes the subject and threatens its coherence. In this respect, one cannot talk about the male or female gaze, the gaze would not belong to anyone because it is precicely that which threatens an identity. It also means that the gaze as such is as disturbing to the world of any identificitaion (straight/gay, bi man or woman etc) since it is their own world that has this rupture through a blindspot. Whether or not this can be used as a critical strategy on the behalf of filmmaking or other art, relies on what kind of discourse and world is displaced or ruptured and how that relates to the displacement of the subject in this enconter.

Merger proposal[edit]

I propose that The male gaze be merged into Gaze. I think that the content in The male gaze can easily be explained in the context of Gaze, and the latter article is of a reasonable size that the merging will not cause any problems as far as article size or undue weight is concerned. The discussion is ongoing at Talk:The male gaze and can be discussed there. BeenAroundAWhile (talk) 02:46, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

  • I have to respectfully disagree (emphasis on "respectfully"— I am familiar with the proposer's substantial chronological credentials). It looks to me as though the "male gaze" is a distinct, feminist topic, the subject of critique and analysis, and while this could certainly be covered under the subject "gaze", I feel the latter is much too broad to convey the idea that it will cover the feminist intent of this article as it now stands. The important part of the article's title is "male", and that seems like it would be lost if merged into "gaze". Respectfully! KDS4444Talk 02:22, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
  • No merge is worth the conceptual displacement. Pandeist (talk) 23:58, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose, mostly per KDS4444. This is a pretty foundational feminist theory. I actually thought the more general concept of "gaze" was an extension of male gaze, though I see that's not really correct. --BDD (talk) 13:57, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The concept of the Male Gaze differ enough to warrant its own article. --Bensin (talk) 01:17, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose - For generally reasons cited by others. "Male gaze" is a central concept in feminist media studies and merits its own page, separate from "gaze". In terms of scholarship, there's way more than sufficient to justify a spin-off. But it will have a practical effect as well. The discussion in this article of "male gaze" has long been subject to trolling and anti-feminist editing, and it's been challenging to police in an article aimed at the broader scholarly concept of "gaze". Spinning it off onto its own page will not eliminate the trolling, of course, but it will hopefully clarify the discussion so it can be responded to more effectively. --Lquilter (talk) 10:52, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Male gaze is a distinct concept and has enough written about it to justify a separate article. Kaldari (talk) 21:43, 17 July 2015 (UTC)[edit]

The site, which was cited in this article until it was just removed (not by me) is a wiki and is not WP:reliable. Sincerely, BeenAroundAWhile (talk) 20:25, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

A wiki, yes, but TVTropes is often awesome. Pandeist (talk) 21:37, 6 May 2015 (UTC)