Moulin Rouge: Gender Inequality Essay

1479 words - 6 pages

In today’s world, men and women are perceived equally by the society. In the past, authority and control define men while women are given the characteristic of helplessness. Men are able to get hold of high positions while women usually are subservient to them. In movies, we would usually see women portray roles that are degrading due to the stereotypical notions they associate with this gender group. Moulin Rouge, a movie set during the 1900s narrates the story of a courtesan woman, Satine, as she undergoes hardships to earn money, experiences love but unfortunately, due to her irrational choices, faces tragic consequences at the end. Satine is a symbol of how women are being treated by the society during the era before post-feminism, where men have superiority over women. As the plot develops, Satine transforms from a worthless prostitute to someone who is courageous and willing to face her fears in order to attain her aspirations. Psychoanalyst theory and feminist analysis are apparent throughout the film. The male gaze, fantasy and feminism are three topics that will be covered in depth in this essay through relating it to the movie.

The scene that evidently defines Satine’s character is her performance of “Sparkling Diamonds”. During this moment, all eyes are on Satine, staring at her astonishing beauty. The female lead is now being presented to all as an object whom men desire to have and women desire to become. This scene is an adequate example of the male gaze which is “the cinema’s frequent positioning of women as objects (Ott & Mack, 2010).” This theory is manifested through the way the object, Satine, is framed by the camera lens. A better vantage point is given to the spectators by positioning her higher than everybody else by the means of a metaphorical throne. The camera, which is presumed to be a heterosexual male, circles around the object, Satine’s body, for the fulfillment of the audience’s pleasure. This way of positioning deliberately substantiates the ideology that “male are active subjects who look upon female characters as passive objects (Ott & Mack, 2010).” Females are not able to escape this gaze, for they are situated similar to a circus performer being displayed to amuse the viewers of the show. Satine is being contained in this inescapable world where she is responsible to please those around her. Men use their gender to their advantage, for they know their role in the society is more superior to those of the females. They take pleasure in gazing at Satine’s immaculate curves and remarkable good looks. Fetishism, which is the “psychic structuring of an object or person as a source of sexual pleasure (Ott & Mack, 2010)”, is prevalent during the entire scene. Satine recognizes this power of manipulation she has on those fetishizing over her beauty. In the past, the male gaze is also apparent in the media. Madonna uses the male gaze to manipulate men to supply her with material objects. Material Girl becomes an anthem...

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