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What’s wrong with images of women in the cinema? l Greater differentiation of men’s roles than women’s roles. l Men portrayed as actors within history;

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Presentation on theme: "What’s wrong with images of women in the cinema? l Greater differentiation of men’s roles than women’s roles. l Men portrayed as actors within history;"— Presentation transcript:

1 What’s wrong with images of women in the cinema? l Greater differentiation of men’s roles than women’s roles. l Men portrayed as actors within history; femininity as ahistorical and eternal (myth). l Men represented as active subjects, controllers of look; women objectified as a passive “to-be-looked- at-ness.” l Identification of femininity with the sexual and erotic. “Woman is presented as what she represents for man”: woman as phallic replacement, a projection of male narcissistic fantasy.

2 Jacques Lacan: Symbolic and Imaginary The Symbolic includes all expressive behaviors: language and art as well as social structures such as kinship relations (Claude Levi-Strauss). The Symbolic and the Oedipus complex: Oedipus complex and language acquisition The Law of the Father as the moral and legal prohibitions that constitute and limit subjectivity A scenario defining sexual difference The Symbolic includes not only language and expression, but all the positions of identification and subjectivity that individuals must take up in order to have a "place" in society.

3 Psychoanalysis and sexual difference l Having the means to identity themselves with the phallus, men have a privileged access to the law, authority, and symbolic manipulation; l Failing this identification women do not. l From the point of view of men, women come to represent lack, an anxiety that they will fail before the Law. Women are represented has “failing” the symbolic and relegated to a negative representation, what is “not-male.”

4 Maintaining the unity and coherence of narrative as a support for the transcendental (masculine) subject. l The organization of point of view to the benefit of the masculine protagonist. l The organization of images as a voyeuristic gaze that wants to investigate and punish the female protagonist. – In this respect, voyeurism allies itself with the linearity of narrative and a logic of conflict and suspense. Through the fetishistic imaging of women’s bodies, building up their erotic fascination for the man. Freezing the look by building up the image of the woman into an erotic spectacle, satisfying in itself.

5 Are women “outside” the symbolic? If women stand outside the symbolic... Women are not represented for themselves, but rather as that which is “not male.” Women are occluded from positions of identification and pleasure in the cinema. Mulvey: [and so elude the snare of identification] Doane: “filming a women becomes equivalent to a terrorist act.” Or, perhaps women have a different relation to language and identification?

6 Feminism and political modernism l How the sexed body is imagined and symbolized under patriarchy and how it can be represented otherwise. What are the possibilities for feminine identification and spectatorship in film, especially avant-garde film? How a theory of avant-garde filmmaking can be based on the specificity of feminine identity, language, and pleasure.

7 Feminism and political modernism Mulvey: the history of women’s participation in filmmaking is allied with both an independent and avant-garde practice. The threat of negativity implied by the imaging of women in classical films are the source for anti-illusionist counter-strategies that undermine new cinematic forms and meanings. Redirecting negativity to undermine masculine pleasure in looking. Doane: to define an autonomous space of language and desire for women. Michèle Montrelay and Luce Irigaray To define a non-phallic language or desire A feminist political modernism must define a feminine poetic syntax and position of looking and desire that derive from a new way of imaging the female body.

8 Feminism and counter-cinema VoyeurismFetishism Sadism[Negation] NarrativeSpectacle --------------------------------------------- LinearityStasis UnityDisunity ActionInterruption DepthFlatness IllusionDefamiliarization

9 Mary Ann Doane, “Woman’s Stake” l To define an autonomous space of language and desire appropriate to women's experience. l Luce Irigaray l Michèle Montrelay l The search for a feminine poetic syntax “which constitutes the female body as a term.” l A non-phallic language of desire

10 Teresa de Lauretis, “Rethinking Women’s Cinema” The search for films whose visual and symbolic spaces addresses the spectator as a woman. Woman’s cinema as the production of a feminist social vision. To construct other objects and subjects of vision and to formulate the conditions of representability for another social subject. Understanding the difference of women from Woman, as well as differences among women. The shift to an aesthetic of reception: The audience conceived as a heterogeneous community. Addressed as female in gender and multiple or heterogeneous in race and class.


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