Laura Mulvey: It’s a Man’s World


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.


About leltant

Laura El-Tantawy is an Egyptian documentary artist based in London, UK. She studied journalism & political science at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia (USA) & started her career as a newspaper photographer with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Sarasota Herald-Tribune (USA). Her work has been exhibited in the US, Europe and Asia. She exclusively works on self-initiated projects. Laura lives between the UK, her country of birth, and Egypt, where she associates most of her childhood memories. She is currently completing a masters degree at the University of Westminster in London where she is studying mixed media, with emphasis on film-making. She is working on producing a short film about farmer suicides in India.
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