From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- "Men dream of women. Women dream of themselves being dreamt of. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. [...] Women constantly meet glances which act like mirrors reminding them of how they look or how they should look." --John Berger
Male gaze in relation to feminist theory presents asymmetrical gaze as a means of exhibiting an unequal power relationship; that is, the male imposes an unwanted gaze upon the female. While some argue that women who fit the ideal of female beauty enjoy this gaze, many second-wave feminists would argue whether these women are actually willing, noting that they may be merely seeking to conform to the hegemonic norms constructed to the benefit of male interests that further underline the power of the male gaze. (see also exhibitionism)
Anneke Smelik (1999) has pointed out that "the account of 'the male gaze' as a structuring logic in Western visual culture became controversial in the early 1980s, as it made no room for the female spectator nor for a female gaze. Yet, women did and do go to the movies. Mulvey was much criticized for omitting the question of female spectatorship. In a later essay (1981/1989), she addressed the vicissitudes of female spectatorship in her analysis of the western Duel in the Sun (King Vidor, 1946).
Greer and the female gaze
Germaine Greer explains that her book The Beautiful Boy is intended to defend territory of the marginalised female gaze: "Well, I'd like to reclaim for women the right to appreciate the short-lived beauty of boys, real boys, not simpering 30-year-olds with shaved chests."