In the Cut’s Challenge to the Patriarchal Norms of Cinema

It seems that whenever a woman watches a film focusing on sexuality, it’s under the male gaze. The women are objectified and simply there for pleasure. Men are traditionally presented as the ones with desires of voyeurism.  Compared to these typical films, In the Cut is a breath of fresh air—at least, when you aren’t holding your breath from all the tension.

I believe this film is designed as a feminist piece. When we do get glimpses of the male perspective, it’s presented as dark and dangerous. The constant overshadowing of Kevin Bacon’s character is a great example of the ever present threat of the male gaze. He is literally always watching. We are meant to identify with Frannie and feel fear as she does. As a female viewer, I noticed how odd it felt to be completely in the shoes of a woman while watching a film.

In film, women generally function as a pleasurable or visually pleasing object for the male protagonist. However, in In the Cut, whatever Frannie sees is what the audience identifies with. So, when she views Malloy as a sexual object, we see him that way as well. Focusing on the female pleasure rather than the male pleasure isn’t just jarring, it’s attempting to undermine the male pleasure.

When Frannie is observing the blowjob in the bar, so is the audience. The male in the scene is objectified as a woman would be. His penis is shown, meant to be displayed for the visual enjoyment of women. Frannie, who is our eyes, is satisfied, therefore we should be as well.

There aren’t many films I have seen that utilize the female gaze. Film after film objectifies the female characters, focusing in on their curves and body parts. In the Cut does the exact same thing, but the subjects of objectification are men. Eventually, Malloy gives into her pleasure, willingly placing himself as an object of sexual satisfaction. When there are sex scenes, each naked body is shown in its entirety, placing equal value on the characters nudity. This is unusual seeing as most films are presented under the male gaze, showing more female nudity than male.

In the Cut is focused on deconstructing the patriarchal codes that are present in the film industry. Rather than having a man gazing at a woman on screen for pleasure, a woman’s sexual desires are illustrated. This film is a direct critique of the patriarchal norms of cinema and proves that films can be made under the female gaze as well as male. It’s a challenge to the film industry, and sadly, since 2003, not much has changed.



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