To Desire Differently: Feminism and French Cinema Expanded Edition
Sandy Flitterman-Lewis
(New York, 1996)
1
“The cinematic apparatus, as a social technology that transcends the work of individual directors, was and is fully compromised in the ideology of vision and sexual difference founded on woman as image, spectacle, objects and locus of sexuality.”
-Teresa DeLauretis, Alice Doesn’t
“The American cinema is entirely dependent, as is psychoanalysis, on a system of representation in which the woman occupies a central place only to the extent that it’s a place assigned to her by the logic of her masculine desire.”
-Raymond Bellour, Camera Obscura 3/4
2: Importance of Mulvey’s article, description of how woman is perceived + example (‘Prix de Beaute’)
Hollywood and masculine dominance, Hollywood’s construction of femininity
3: Objective of feminist film theory and Metz
“The cinema’s immediate and encompassing establishment as a powerful social institution is thus linked to the manner in which every film inscribes it- in a pleasurable form that demands repeated re-enactment- very deep and globally structuring processes of the human psyche. But because these processes emphatically hinge on sexual difference (for the power of psychoanalysis lies precisely in its ability to describe how the small human being comes to establish a gendered position and identify within the network of social relations that constitutes culture), such a psychoanalytic notion of cinematic apparatus cannot be without important consequences for feminists.”
“For if all cinema is seen as a fanstasmatic production which mobilizes primary processes in the circulation of desire, and if film-viewing itself is posited as an erotic, voyeuristic activity, then it is always the woman-image- existing precisely to be looked at and to be desired- which is perpetually offered to the male spectator-consumer who posseses the gaze.” PAGE 4 KEY, DEV OF PSYCHOANALYIS
5: Mulvey
First to posit...-fact of sexual differenciation, pleasure of cinematic experience
“dominant polarity of vision”
“the look” passive vs active
Always a ‘masculization of the spectator position’
Doane critique of Mulvey and additions to her theory
Pleasures associated with the female viewer but female spectator ship itself is never entirely foreclosed
8
Addition to theory by Teresa DeLauretis
DeLauretis reintroduces sexual difference into the theory of spectatorship by pointing to a cinema that engages “an interruption, a disalignment of the triple track by which meaning, pleasure, and narrative are constructed from [Oedipus’] point of view,” and thus disturbs the fixed sexual dichotomy implied by this structure.
The question, then, invariably comes back to one of pleasure: if cinematic fascination turns on the mobilization of unconscious desires, what are the possibilities for spectatorial pleasure for women?
10
Teresa DeLauretis
“Film spectators enter the movie theatre as either men or women,...each person goes to the movies with a semiotic history, personal and social, a series of previous identifications, by which she or he has been somehow engendered.
And because she and he are historical subjects, continuously engages in a multiplicity of signifying practices which, like narrative and cinema, rest on and perpetuate the founding distinction of culture- sexual difference- the film’s images for them are not neutral objects of a pure perception, but already “significant images.”
-patriarchal representations
12
Cinema apparatus and fantasy
14: (Metz)
15:
Raymond Bellour: this model of the cinematic apparatus is marked by the insistent inscription of sexual difference, for although he theorizes the place of cinematic enunciation as a position- not to be confused with the specific individual filmmaker- his most illuminating analyses are based on the work of the consummate auteur and exemplar of patriarchal power, Alfred Hitchcock. (Bellour continued)
His work on the production and generation of textual systems (for which he takes the classical Hollywood cinema as paradigm) examines how the figure of the woman has a critical determining role in the ensemble of representations organized by the film; he connects this to the central role of sexual difference in the unconscious structuration of the subject in patriarchy.
16: Bellour and female desire, Bellour and Oedipus complex, cultural definitions of femininity
19: Femininity and Authorship
Complications arise...
How can we define a “desiring look” when the position of looking is feminine?