The dissecting gaze: Fashioned bodies on social networking sites

Woolley, Dawn (2020) The dissecting gaze: Fashioned bodies on social networking sites. In: Revisiting the Gaze: The Fashioned Body and the Politics of Looking. Bloomsbury Visual Arts. ISBN 9781350154216

Abstract

In ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, Laura Mulvey says the gender inequality that favours men and disadvantages women also structures how we look. Women are passive objects of the look and men are active agents of it. Fetishistic scopophilia exaggerates and emphasizes the physical beauty of a woman so she is pleasurable to look at, but at the same time it reduces her to a non-threatening fragment, a part-object without subjectivity. In reference to Marxism and psychoanalysis, this chapter will argue that contemporary culture, characterized by the predominance of social networking sites and selfies, produces a particular type of fetishistic look: a magnifying, dissecting gaze. This mode of looking is an internalized gaze that compels the individual to work on the body so it more closely resembles social body ideals. It is not the pleasurable scopophilia described by Mulvey but a judgmental, disciplining gaze.

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