I think Laura Mulvey’s essay emphasizes the traditional view of a male dominated world. This is evident in her theory about women being viewed as “bearer, not maker, of meaning”. I found her essay to be thought provoking and stimulated a lot of debate for me over the relationship between film and representation, especially of women, and the two key terms scopophilia and voyeurism, particularly the latter, which she likens to the experience of cinema spectators to the film they are watching.
Having said that, I found her theory degrading to both men and women. she discounts women of possessing the ability to be “movers or shakers” in society. Mulvey said of women: “She turns her child into the signifier of her own desire to possess a penis” — as though the only way a woman can be of influence is through possessing a penis — being a man. Alternatively, I found her theory radical towards men because it portrayed them as sadistic viewers gaining pleasure, mostly sexual pleasure, from looking/gazing at women.
Her essay interestingly tied in with John Berger’s film, “The Ways of Seeing“, which looks at the representation of the female figure in art and looks at the role of the mirror as a symbol of feminity.