What is the Gaze?

“Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at” (Berger 1972)

Gaze – a term used to describe the psychoanalytical, anxious state that comes with the awareness that one can be viewed. Suggested that the subject loses a sense of autonomy upon the realiastion that he/she is a visible object. The concept comes from the theory of the mirror stage, when a child see’s his or her reflection and comes to the realisation that they have an external appearance. The gaze effect is not only realised through the mirror but can be produced by conceivable objects like a chair or TV. Although these objects don’t act like a mirror (casting a reflection) but can raise awareness of yourself as an object.

As for women the quote doesn’t mean that women are vein but women watch themselves being looked at because of the many different representations that surround us in media. It is but women surveying their own femininity.

The media can take advantage of this mainly through advertising.

” The camera in contemporary media has been put to use as an extension of the male gaze at women on the streets” ( Coward, R . 19884 )

Putting gaze to use in an advertisement, men want to be with her and women want to be her, if the women buy the products she is selling are they subconsciously doing so to avert mens gaze upon them selves? subliminal subconscious manipulation?

Stealing gaze for personal gain.

This photograph of Princess Diana taken by the paparazzi was a stolen shot purely for financial gain. It’s shots like these that creates a market for magazines and news papers. Clearly Diana did not want her photograph taken, but the public demand to gaze upon her keeps these markets alive for our own voyeuristic pleasure, which sadly lead to Princess Diana s death.

Our desire to see a celebrity ‘un masked’ is a reflection of our insecurities about our gaze upon our selves. The ordinary life of a celebrity reinforces the fact that they are human just like everyone else, giving readers selfish comfort about themselves.

“looking is not indifferent. There can never be any question of ‘just looking’.” Victor Burgin (1982)