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Girl On Girl: Art and Photography in the Age of the Female Gaze by Charlotte Jansen

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

In the book Girl on Girl, Jansen explores 40 artists and photographers that use themselves and other women that use the photography, social media and the Female Gaze to explore the issues of female identity in today's modern society.

This book amazes me when considering the beginnings of the terms 'Male Gaze' and 'Female Gaze' as so much has changed between now and back in 1975 when Laura Mulvey introduced the definition of the Male Gaze in film theory, where women are viewed by a heterosexual male view and simply presented as passive objects for the desire of the male viewer.

Charlotte Jansen shares her own take on the Female Gaze and all the misconceptions of what the movement entails. Such as you 'need' to be female to take part or support. How can this be when gender and sexuality today is so much more fluid than ever before? Like transgender, someone who doesn't identify as the gender they were born with at birth, how can this exclude them from the gaze just because they don't obtain the life 'experience' of a women? Another misconception that Jansen outlines is that the Female Gaze only applies to women, how can this be when men can contain feminine traits, which would highlight elements of the Female Gaze, would it not?

As we all know the term 'Female Gaze' has been floating around for many years and has been adopted in all areas of the visual arts and literature, although assumptions of what the female gaze entails has always been puzzling. Many people assume that the female gaze is simply the opposite of the male gaze, when in reality this was not the case. At the time when these terms were used women were barred in taking part within the art world and were not taken seriously compared to men. Resulting in women such as Cindy Sherman and other unrecognised female artists and photographs not gaining the recognition they deserve however, today we consider them as the stepping stones and the roots of the 'Female Gaze'.

Even though the Female Gaze isn't exactly where many people thought it would be in society now, the message is loud and clear from using technologies and social platforms we now have. Such as Instagram, it is only in the previous decade were this has been accessible to use so now we have a whole new way of sharing and expressing with the world which has benefitted the movement massively, creating a new level of visibility as we all use social media everyday of our lives.

I completely admire the book Girl on Girl as this book represents true women, their experiences, fighting against stereotypes that have been created for many years, bringing alight of how women want to be seen and instead of showing unrealistic expectations and being objectified by the opposite sex. It is clear that the Female Gaze is merely becoming equal to its superior, allowing the male spectator know that we see you looking and we are looking right back.

Looking at the world from a completely different perspective compared to the Male Gaze, a world were fluidity is apparent and relating to each other and ourselves in many different ways.

Harley Kelly.

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