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Male Gaze

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Meryl: I'll go on ahead, look at my ass.
Snake: Okay. Cool.

The Male Gaze is a form of Gaze that arises from the assumption that the audience is mostly comprised of straight males, which in turn means female fanservice will appear in some form to appeal to or appease said male audience.

The usual result of Male Gaze is the way a (usually male) director/cameraman's interest in women shapes his shots, leading to a focus on breasts, legs, buttocks, and other jiggly bits even when the film isn't necessarily supposed to be a feast for eyes of their admirers (though most of the time this can indeed be intentional). For example, a sex scene between a man and a woman may show more of her body than it does of his, or focus more on her reactions than his (see Right Through His Pants). Alternatively, it could appear in shows that aren't overtly sexual - for example, scenes of bikini-clad female characters talking that emphasize their bodies rather than showing just their heads. This trope can be used as a legitimate cinematic effect, especially when combined with Point of View. (At that point it may become Eating the Eye Candy, though not necessarily.)

The term also applies in other media, such as video games and comic books. During the Dark Age, comic books were (and often still are) perfect examples of the male gaze, with scenes being framed to show off a female character's curves over everything else. It can occur in non-visual media too - when a female character is introduced, the narration will often spend a disproportionate amount of words on describing her appearance.

Male Gaze does sometimes focus on male attributes, focusing on big pumping biceps and perfect abs, but, crucially, in a way that is sexless and aspirational. The presumed male audience is intended to relate to the character being objectified in this way and wish they had that body themselves, rather than desire the character.

The Distaff Counterpart of the Male Gaze is the Female Gaze - where the same rules as above apply except the focus is on more traditionally masculine qualities in a character.

If the woman in question is aware of the Fourth Wall, she'll likely snap "Ahem, eyes are up here!" at the camera/artist/character.

The concept was popularized in Laura Mulvey's 1973 essay "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema."

See also Fanservice, Jiggle Physics, Eating the Eye Candy, Boobs-and-Butt Pose, Head-and-Hip Pose. Contrast Longing Look, and compare with Female Gaze.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Film — Animated 


    Music Videos 
  • Miserable invokes male gaze and uses it as a tool to trick the audience. Aside from the Giant Woman wearing nothing but a bikini and high-heeled shoes, the band also specifically plays on places like her butt, her thighs, and her breasts while the camera pans over her body seductively. Combined with her occasional flirtatious smiles and giggles directed towards the band, this makes it seem like she's just there to be eye candy. So it comes as a suprise when the last 17% of the video is dedicated to her gleefully devouring the terrified male band members.

  • In Eight Ball Deluxe, one of the playfield images is a woman in tight jeans with her back to the viewer, leaning over the pool table...
  • The playfield for Bally's Xenon shows a woman with her back to the player, arms upraised.
  • Evel Knievel features several female fans with large breasts and wearing tight T-shirts.
  • The sides of the Baywatch cabinet prominently feature the backsides of three female lifeguards, complete with skimpy swimsuits.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Turn on any WWE show later than 1995. Find a woman wrestling and chances are the cameras are focusing on her breasts falling out of her top, jiggling as she moves, or competing for who can get the most buttocks shots. Even more so if she is in any competition that is not wrestling, WWE tending to have "bikini contests" and such seemingly just to facilitate this, though they seem to be on their way out since the return to the PG rating.
  • Played straight during Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling's "sports entertainment" era, where what was once among the most fearsome women's divisions on the planet was phased out for valets with little wrestling or garbage wrestling skills whom the cameras would zoom in on while they attempted to fight one another, often to the point of missing the actual wrestling moves and violence the promotion was built on. However, what was left of the women's division was still fearsome enough to convince the cameramen not to apply this trope when they were wrestling.
  • During a Full Impact Pro falls count anywhere match between Homicide and CM Punk, the camera man, to commentator Prazak's annoyance, became more interested in two nearby strippers performing. Homicide himself soon became more interested in them than Punk too.
  • "Extreme Expose": The segment being the part in the show where three scantily clad women - one just barely over the age of 18 - dance to club music in the ring. It started as the 18-year-old's way to show off how much of an "exhibitionist" she was.
    • Even though Brooke Adams considered her buttocks her best assets (no pun intended), one of the cameras that followed her seemed more obsessed with them than her.
  • Subverted and Justified in OVW during a Leid Tapa vs Blossom Twin match, as the camera was being held by Eddy Valiant, whose girlfriend Epiphany was later seen demanding him to stop filming.
  • Allysin Kay curtsying before her matches creates a lot of opportunities for this.
  • Ivory. Oh yeah. Her fans loved looking at and talking about her butt. Google "Ivory's ass" for proof. On April 5, 2002, Steve D. Perkins posted "TOP 100 DUMBEST RSPW GAGS" to the Usenet newsgroup "Tributes to Molly's or Ivory's ass" came in at #61.
  • Holidead made her Ring of Honor debut in a loss to Sumie Sakai in a dark match from ROH/NJPW Global Wars 2017 Night III, October 14, 2017. One of the commenters said she was "thicc as hell," and another said, "That zombie's got a nice ass."
    • She acknowledges this in this post, which shows her lying face down on the mat and features the words "Fans Be Like Dat Ass Tho." Raised to funny because of how she quotes the GEICO "Hump Day" ad, asking "Guess what day it is?"

  • In one episode of Jack and Millie, Millie's friend Shirley says Millie doesn't dress for the male gaze. Millie isn't sure the male gays would be interested if she did.

  • NFL cheerleaders and NBA dancers.
  • Thanks to Erin Andrews, it has become for common for sideline and courtside reporters to be female.
  • Very common in the Super Bowl, where most of the national anthem singers are women.
  • Spotting pretty women in the crowds of sporting events has become such an obvious trope that it has it's own name among cameramen, the "Honey Shot." This article details how it was essentially the brainchild of Andy Sidaris, the director for ABC football broadcasts. Note that some women (Jenn Sterger, Pamela Anderson) have even gained careers from being spotted in sports crowds.
  • During the 2012 Olympic Games, NBC had to pull an online video called "Bodies in Motion" because its depiction of female athletes was considered objectifying and demeaning. It didn't help that during the women's volleyball matches, the cameramen would occasionally get...distracted.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the early days of Dungeons & Dragons, it was common to see published modules describe any female characters (if they existed at all) in detail, usually with terms like "voluptuous" or "svelte", while neglecting to give important male NPCs so much as a hair color.
    • The illustrations in the D&D books of the 80s and 90s often depicted sexily designed and dressed female characters. Clyde Caldwell, one of the most prolific (and, in other respects, one of the best) D&D artists of this time, is particularly infamous for this.

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Tsubame's Abs

Misha is shocked by Tsubame's rippling abs when she sees her getting out of the bathtub, with a close up shot of them.

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