Acta Cogitata: An Undergraduate Journal in Philosophy


One of the central concepts in feminist film criticism is that of gaze, also called male gaze: the objectifying lens, both literal and metaphorical, that an assumed default male viewer has through media that depicts women from a masculine point of view. This gaze is constructed as necessarily objectifying; when scholars posit a female gaze, it is sometimes also cast as objectifying, simply swapping the genders of the seer and the seen. I argue that gaze can also be subjectifying through the process of relation between people who hold each other in equal regard and do not assert power one over the other. In both seeing and being seen, there is power to restore agency to the objectified through reciprocal relation. I explore this idea in the context of film, not only as a vehicle of illustration, but also as an interaction between artist and audience, and assert that gaze has equal power to harm or heal, and to reduce or restore agency.

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