We all have problems being looked at or stared at, but yet it is so easy to point and stare at others. The talk in class about Laura Mulvey’s idea of the gaze intrigued me to find out more about this topic. She argues that the “pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female.. presenting ‘woman as image’ (or ‘spectacle’) and man as ‘bearer of the look’. Men do the looking; women are there to be looked at.”(Mulvey 1992, 27). Her primary focus is that of the gaze between the sexes; the male is the gazer while the female is the object to be gazed at. She talks about how this gaze objectifies women and I must say I agree on some levels.
Now I’m not here harping as a hardcore feminist, but the idea got me thinking about society today. Take for example the show Deal or No Deal. What better way to demonstrate Mulvey’s theory then through a typical episode of this game show. Here we have twenty six beautiful models holding a briefcase filled with a certain amount of money. All twenty six females are put on display for the contestants. Not to mention they are all dressed identically from head to toe; a tiny dress, push up bras, hair done up and makeup plastered on their faces. These women are seen as objects put on display simply to decorate the briefcases. And for what? To draw in viewers of course. What better way to target the male side of their target audience then draping beautiful women all over the set? These women are further objectified because they hardly talk, and when they do it’s as one voice; “Hi Howie”, with a big grin on their face. They serve no other purpose but to hold the case of money; leaving once their case has been picked. They are simply objects of the male gaze desire.
Because women are aware of this male gaze, it causes them to change their actions and behaviors. These girls would never be seen without their makeup and fancy outfits or hair done. And why? Because they know they are being looked at and so are always trying to present themselves the best they can. It changes the way other women see themselves as well because they desire this male gaze on themselves and so it seems the only way to do so is the pretty outfits and heavy makeup. “The male gaze is 'determining', and female figures appear in accordance with male fantasies -- they 'connote to-be-looked-at-ness’ as in conventional erotic spectacles like strip-tease.” (http://www.arasite.org/)
We don’t just see this idea of the male gaze and looking on television and in films, what about Playboy? Again girls are posing for the male gaze. They are objects of male desire. They are objectified and only seen for their looks rather then who they are as a person. I mean common now… what guy really looks at playboy bunnies and says “man I bet they have a great personality”. Now like I said before, I’m not harping out feminist views. This could be argued in the reverse way with Playgirl Magazines. But when was the last time we saw twenty six gorgeous men as the center of a game show?
We justify objectifying these women and staring at them because they are a part of television. We’ve seen it before with Bob Barker and his beauties. It has become normal to see women decorating prizes and so we no longer question it when twenty six beautiful women are presented before us as decoration. Because it’s a game show it must be okay. Because everything in television is ‘not real’ and therefore the rules are apparently different.
I just found Mulvey’s point still lies true in today’s society. Although women have a lot more rights now a day then they used to, they are still typically gazed at by men and in turn objectified causing them to change their ways.