The ‘Male Gaze’ and ‘Ways of Seeing’ are both ideas studied back in school in sociology, art and also in film studies. These ideas resonate with me these days. Being a women with a camera in a predominantly patriarchal society seems to turn Laura Mulvey’s theory of ‘the male gaze’ on it’s head. On a daily basis confronting the idea of the male gaze with the gaze of my camera, my camera acts as a middleman (or woman!) between me and reality. In some cases instead of me being the one objectified, the camera reflects the notion of the gaze back on them, making some men feel awkward and uneasy.
It is part of my work to make characters feel relaxed and open in front of the camera, male or female, but I heard of an interesting experiment a friends colleague used in her thesis on politics of gender which used this notion of flipping the male gaze. Every time a man looked at her in the street she would stick a camera in his face to see how they enjoyed being objectified. Not something I am about to embark on, but it does highlight the power of the lens and its relationship to gender and the idea of ‘the gaze’.