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OUGD501 - Study Task 4 - The Gaze

The gaze is voyeurism. Looking at art/media in general is not necessarily neutral. 

‘Men act, women appear” [Berger, 1972].

This has been acknoledged but there is a long way to go to change, It is a conventional idea that men mean power and women are objectified.

The painting is of a nude women by a man called Hans Memling. Art was primarily practiced by men up until the 70’s. As the vast of wealthy came from the man himself, this came with financial power over women.

The reason the painting is of a woman rather than a man, is because it would of been painted for a man and he wouldn’t want to sit and observe a naked man. This means it is securing his sexuality for himself and to serve as a form of soft pornography to the voyeur. This painting serves as a fantasy to the man it was commissioned for as a constantly sexually available woman on display.


The advert I have chosen to analyze is a classic example of what is known as ‘The Look’ used within a marketing strategy. Tom Ford is a high-end fashion designer brand with it’s own sub-companies splitting between a men’s and women’s section. Tom Ford himself is the director of the company and is also in charge of all advertising campaigns and any creative work involved “The film and television industries are dominated by men, as is the advertising industry” [Coward, R., ‘The Look’, in Thomas, J. (ed) (2000), Reading Images, Basingstoke: Palgrave, p33].

This advert in itself is aimed at men in an effort to attract them towards the unrealistic values of their first fragrance. The image consists of a bare woman’s chest with the fragrance bottle held in between her breasts by her hands. This is an explicitly suggestive photo in a hope to exchange the male viewer’s imagination towards himself rather than the fragrance bottle as if it were an open invitation for the viewer - “Those fantasy women stare off the walls with a look of urgent availability.” [Coward, R., ‘The Look’, in Thomas, J. (ed) (2000), Reading Images, Basingstoke: Palgrave, p34].

The way this advert entices a male towards the marketed product is a form of impacting voyeurism, which allows the male audience to look at the image and fantasize about the content but at the same time put himself in the situation the image would describe – “This so called aesthetic appreciation of women is nothing less than a decided preference for a ‘distanced’ view of the female body. The aesthetic appeal of women disguises a preference for looking at women’s bodies, for keeping women separate, at a distance, and the ability to do this” [Coward, R., ‘The Look’, in Thomas, J. (ed) (2000), Reading Images, Basingstoke: Palgrave, p34].

This preference to admire from a distant view is the result of men having a fear of rejection and therefore being more inclined to react to imagery that is created without that barrier of risking rejection or declination. The image shows this woman’s body in a very vulnerable position, which will naturally entice men for the idea of their domination, and also the fantasy woman’s subordination “ In this society, looking has become a crucial aspect of sexual relations, not because of any natural impulse, but because it is one of the ways in which domination and subordination are expressed” - [Coward, R., ‘The Look’, in Thomas, J. (ed) (2000), Reading Images, Basingstoke: Palgrave, p34].

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