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The Male Gaze

as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary


 The Male Gaze [compare French regard (J. M. E. Lacan Quatre Concepts Fondamentaux de la Psychanalyse (1973) viii. 78, translated in quot. 1977).] A way of regarding people or things which is considered to embody certain aspects of the relationship between the observer and the observed; esp. as expressed in art, literature, film, etc., by how an author chooses (consciously or not) to direct his or her (and hence the audience's) attention. Chiefly with the.Frequently in the male gaze n. a characteristically male perspective, esp. one thought to reveal chauvinistic, misogynistic, or voyeuristic attitudes.


1973   N. Burch Theory of Film Practice p. ix   Expanding and intensifying the illusionism of that spatial continuum in which the beholder's gaze and attention is..free.., Welle's depth of field and Rossellini's long shots permit the beholder to encounter and explore the visual field. 1975   Screen Autumn 11   The determining male gaze projects its fantasy onto the female figure. 1977   tr. J. M. E. Lacan Four Fund. Concepts Psychoanal. vi. 73   In our relation to things, in so far as this relation is constituted by the way of vision, and ordered in the figures of representation, something slips, passes, is transmitted, from stage to stage, and is always to some degree eluded in it—that is what we call the gaze. 1979   E. A. Snow Stud. Vermeer 28   The women [in Degas' paintings] are..delivered not only from the male gaze but from any introjected awareness of it. 1985   Sydney Morning Herald 27 July 47/4 Close Remarks is a considerably more rarified and intellectually challenging exhibition than Heartlands, and viewers will find it quite educational, for it addresses recent controversies about, for example, the politics of representation and the politics of the gaze. 1990   Rouge Winter 21/1   In lesbian theatre we can assert the lesbian gaze as spectators and critics. 1991   Women: Cultural Rev. Spring 60   She distinguished three aspects to the gaze: that of the eye of the camera registering the pro-filmic event, that of the spectator viewing the film, and that of the characters on the screen looking at each other. 1996   Afr. Amer. Rev. 30 20/2   The narrator's adoption of the white gaze is perhaps most obvious, however, when he analyzes at length the ‘three classes’ of ‘colored people’ in Jacksonville. 2001   Jrnl. Gender Stud. (Nexis) Mar. 94   The male poet's descriptive strategies are seen as objectifying his female addressee and the subject of his discourse in the same way that the male ‘gaze’ objectifies the woman in narrative cinema.

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