Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Representation of Genders in the Media

Representation of Genders in the MediaCourse Diary Entry 1Liesbet van Zoonen Feminist Media Studies (chapter 6, pp 87 104)1. ABSTRACTThe sixth chapter of Van Zoonens book Feminist Media Studies, Spectatorship and the Gaze, provides a compelling introduction to the ara of feminist film studies, more specific all in ally, to different issues surrounding the concept of the gaze. Van Zoonen swallows on the arguments of Laura Mulveys work, who use psychoanalytic wights in explaining why women are presented in the media as macrocosm looked at and men as the ones who act. Van Zoonen stresses the difficulty of the proponents of psychoanalysis to explain the pleasures of pistillate spectatorship, which, nevertheless, can be accounted for by employing different perspectives on media studies. After discussing ideas regarding the male gaze, Van Zoonen turns her attention to the way images of men are presented in popular media, emphasising the point that, out of fear that their image co uld be homoeroticised, different methods and narrative codes are employed in devote to make the objectification of male bodies less evident. Hence, the traditional intelligence of men being the ones who nourish the power and women the ones who are looked at is still in place in patriarchal cultures, until now though there are signs of trying to put it aside.2. OUTLINEwomen are constructed in western popular media as being the passive object of the male gaze, whereas men as being the ones who act the psychoanalytical paradigm was employed to explain this state of factsa) Laura Mulvey used psychoanalysis in her study of internal practice media copys as a useful tool in explaining the pleasures of male spectatorship, though failing to explain the independent wo universely pleasure of looking at menscopophilia the deriving of sexual pleasures simply by lookingnarcissistic identification the desire of men to identify themselves with former(a) men, presented on the screen as fl awless charactersthe film industry is linked to patriarchy, harmonize to Laura Mulvey some(prenominal) scopophilia and narcissistic identification are achieved by the way filmmakers frame the action, including the objectification of women the male gazefear of castration the trauma pineed by boys when discovering the physical gender differences is diminished by the way male spectators take control over womens bodies in the film industryone of the problems of the way Mulvey employed psychoanalysis it equates maleness with being male and femininity with being pistillateb) Mary Ann Doane contends the impossibility of reversing the gender roles (i.e. men becoming feminine and women masculine)no preconditions of voyeurism in women in puerility women do not experience the distancing from their mothers that boys do because of the sexual differencesthe female spectator can become masculinized by identifying with the male characters in the film or narcissistically identifying with obje ctified female charactersc) criticism of the psychoanalytic paradigm it reinforces the patriarchal norms by excluding the possibility of women to derive pleasure from locationing media productsWomen derive pleasure by looking at other women the psychoanalytical paradigm and beyonda) some argue that the bonding between girls and their mothers creates the pre-conditions of finding pleasure in looking at other womenb) women have coexisting latent homosexual and manifest heterosexual desires Chodorows theory of female developmentc) Arbuthnot and Seneca assert that the psychoanalytic theory is concerned with male spectatorship and thus not captivate to examine female experiences and motivationsWomen derive pleasure by looking at mena) Christianity repressing the abundance of nude representations of men made the patriarchal order imperceptible, whilst it still is the substratum of most societiesb) the female gaze which is masculine by definition looking at the male body is less dan gerous than the homosexual gazec) narrative and visual techniques lessen the degree of subjection of the male body to the gaze of the female spectatorshipe.g. staring back at the viewer, looking up or away from the camera, the text accompanying the images personifying male bodies and thus creating charactersmen presented as wide awake (e.g. signs of physical activity or labour) and in control, just happening to be looked at, not as posing specifically for being viewed by female or male spectatorsmale bodies presented like romantic objects, not sexual ones (e.g. Playgirl)3. LITERATURE REVIEWThe triplet chapters I have chosen Kaplans (1983), Staceys (1988) and Van Zoonens (1994) which do not offer a comprehensive banter of the issue of the gaze, draw on the psychoanalytic explanations of the male gaze and attempt to explain which are the pleasures derived by female spectators watching media products. Hence, all authors use Laura Mulveys and Mary Ann Doanes ideas as a starting po int for their discussion Kaplan argues that psychoanalysis is a useful tool , but not ineluctably uncovering essential truths about the human psyche (1983 23). She boost argues that it can explain only the current structural organization of society, which, I would argue, is a Marxist perspective in her view, cinema is seen as a meat of releasing the tensions created by the industrial society and psychoanalysis as a necessary means to understand the causes of these (Kaplan, 1983). Stacey (1988) identifies the gaps in Mulveys line of argument, more precisely the discussion of the male as an erotic object (which Van Zoonen analyses) and of female homosexuality, and exploits the latter to address one of the issues tackled in little depth by Van Zoonen (1994) female homosexual pleasure, which has been ignored by studies within the psychoanalytic framework. Stacey (1988), like Van Zoonen (1994), draws on Mary Ann Doanes idea that womens pleasures are not related to fetishism and voyeu rism, as mens are and further acknowledges Mulveys argument according to which women oscillate between male and female identifications.In discussing possibilities for understanding and explaining the female gaze, all terzetto authors argue that the opposite of roles is impossible without losing the specific gender identification the female spectator becomes masculinized and vice-versa, and thus the structure remains basically unchanged (Kaplan, 1983). Stacey (1988), as does Van Zoonen (1994), rhetorically asks if women necessarily have to occupy feminine positions and men masculine ones. I would suggest that masculine and feminine actually refer to a set of characteristics associated with men and women respectively only because it has traditionally been thought that they occur more often in the specific gender from which their names derive. Hence, they are not intrinsic to men or women. However, there remains the problem that they are in opposition, not on equal terms. Moreover, if these names which refer to gender and sexual roles would be disregarded, I gestate it would not be a problem for female spectators to adopt an active (masculine) stance anymore.Further discussing the feminine and masculine spectatorships, Stacey (1988) contends that the subjectivities of spectators should be also taken into account, even if their standpoint is seen as masculine. Kaplan notes, drawing on Mary Ann Doanes argument, that if attempting to confer female spectatorship an active role and not masculinizing it, there is the danger of denying pleasure and of disembodying their spectator (Kaplan, 1983 28). An active main female character nearly always loses her traditional feminine characteristics in so doing of kindness, humaneness, motherliness (Kaplan, 1983 29). The problem with this statement is that all these characteristics of femininity are actually constructed in the same way as concepts like active, sexually desirable etc are. Therefore, Kaplans statement does n o justice to the role of the female spectator.The dominant images of women, all male constructs, as Kaplan (1983) emphasizes, are the objects of male fetishism and voyeurism, as all three authors mention. In addition to Van Zoonens (1994) overarching discussion of these Freudian concepts, Kaplan (1983) points at three male gazes in popular media, identified by Laura Mulvey that of the film-maker, of the film viewer and of male characters in the film. According to this explanation of females position in the film framework, Kaplan argues, the man owns the desire and the woman (1983 27), whereas female spectators only receive and return the gaze but cannot act upon it (1983 31). Hence, male and female spectatorships are different in essential respects.All three authors have a feminist standpoint in common from whence they look at the representation of women in popular media. Stacey (1988) is plausibly the most dedicated of all three to the feminist cause, discussing issues which are t aboo for other scholars (feminist or not) the homosexual female spectatorship. The arguments they bring forward overlap, being antonymous in the respect that all offer new information. However, they do not discuss each others contribution to the feminist debate mainly because all three (Stacey to a lesser degree) offer an overview of the arguments brought forward by Laura Mulvey and Mary Ann Doane. All three concluded by pointing to the need of further discussing the sources of pleasure for female spectators both in relation to men and to other women. Moreover, the problem of confounding gender identifications with sexuality in film studies has also been stated as being an issue.4. CROSSCUTTING THEMESThe issues concerning the representation of genders in the media is one of the most important areas of concern for feminist scholars because of the many assumptions hidden under what comes across as common-sense. Nevertheless, this is only one of the issues in which feminists are inter ested. Among the general concern with the resources of conferring women a unessential role in patriarchal societies, feminists address issues of work and employment, and of motherhood. These two themes have several links with those raised by Van Zoonens chapter on the male and female gaze in popular media.One of the most evident crosscutting themes is that of womens passivity and male activity and control. As we have seen in Van Zoonens chapter (1994), female spectatorship is constructed as being passive and to be looked at, whilst male spectators act upon women by looking at their objectified bodies. Witz (1993/1997) asserts that women have traditionally been seen as having the natural duty to do the domestic work, not men, and that feminists struggled to determine the official recognition of this second job women performed. At least since the 18th Century, when the Victorian house servant Ideology constructed women as passive, men have had the active role in a family, working in order to earn a wage for the household. Women, on the other side, have been seen as confined to the private sphere of life and, thus, as being passive since they did not have an active role in the public sphere, as men did. This way of seeing women as inferior to men has survived until the present day, when women have also acceded to work positions, and it can be well seen in the structure of the labour market and in the representation of women in the media.The images of women in popular media, as objects of the male gaze, are opposed to representations of motherhood in different cultures. Reynolds notes that the good mother is endlessly patient, forgiving, nurturing and, most important of all, unfailing in her love (1996 41) this characterization powerfully contrasts with the images of women as sexualized objects or as secondary characters who only disrupt the narrative. For children, mothers are the main characters of their stories and are entirely feminine (whereas the character of a mother in popular media would be either masculinized or it would be the object of the male gaze). Nevertheless, as Reynolds further argues, the problem is that in reality mothering is synonymous with subjugation (1996 42). Moreover, motherhood is linked with psychoanalysis and the way boys suffer a trauma when they discover their difference from their mothers.In conclusion, the chapters I have looked at on different topics written by feminists share the same view that women are currently oppressed in patriarchal cultures. Women share subordination roles in media, at work, in the family etc. However, the hegemony of patriarchy is most evident in media representations of women.ReferencesKaplan, E. Ann (1983) Women and Film Both Sides of the Camera, London and New York Routledge, pp. 125-141Reynolds, Kimberly (1996) Mothers in Madoc-Jones, Beryl Coates, Jennifer An Introduction to Womens Studies, Oxford Blackwell, pp. 38-61Stacey, Jackie (1988) Desperately Seeking Difference in Gamman, Lorraine Marshment, Margaret (Eds.) The Female Gaze Women as Viewers of customary Culture, London Womens Press, pp. 112-129Van Zoonen, Liesbet (1994) Feminist Media Studies, London Sage, pp. 87 -104Witz, Anne (1993/1997) Women and Work in Robinson, Victoria and Richardson, Diane (Eds.) Introducing Womens Studies, 2nd edition, London MacMillan, pp.239-58

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