Voyeurism and fetishism

After constructing two different pleasures of looking, it is now much logical to dig into the human psychology and its subconscious processes that lead to the formation of “male gaze”. Psychologists have traced two major processes through which viewers generally derive pleasure when looking images in the screen. They are voyeurism and fetishism.
Jaques Lacan while describing “the mirror phase” indicated the possibility of two kinds of libidinal desires: one was narcissistic libido and the other was sexual libido. He said that it was the outcome of one’s universal desire or fascination with the beautiful and idealized image (in the mirror or anywhere) to which he or she always aspires. Lacan’s division of libidinal desire is therefore indicative of the two kinds of activities through which a child or adult could reach to gratification. The narcissistic libido and the sexual libido are identical to what Laura Mulvey called fetishistic and voyeuristic fantasy of male in watching images in screen or in the mirror.
Mulvey distinguishes between two modes of looking especially for the film spectator: voyeuristic and fetishistic, which she presents in Freudian terms as responses to male “castration anxiety”. I want to recall Mulvey’s observation on this subject here:
… in psychoanalytic terms, the female figure poses a deeper problem. She also connotes something that the look continually circles around but disavows: her lack of a penis, implying a threat of castration and hence unpleasure. Ultimately, the meaning of woman is sexual difference, the absence of the penis as visually ascertainable, the material evidence on which is based the castration complex essential for the organization of entrance to the symbolic order and the law of the father.
Explicating the castration complex that a female character generates, Mulvey shows how a male gaze being operational in overcoming it comes into effect:
… the woman, as icon, displayed for the gaze and enjoyment of men, … always threatens to evoke the anxiety it originally signified. The male unconscious has two avenues of escape from this castration anxiety: preoccupation with the re-enactment of the original trauma, counterbalanced by the devaluation, punishment, or saving of the guilty object; or else complete disavowal of castration by the substitution of a fetish object or turning the represented figure itself into a fetish so that it becomes reassuring rather than dangerous. This second avenue, fetishistic scopophilia, builds up the physical beauty of the object, transforming it into something satisfying in itself. The first avenue, voyeurism, on the contrary, has associations with sadism: pleasure lies in ascertaining guilt, asserting control, and subjecting the guilty person through punishment or forgiveness. (12-13 Mulvey)
There is indeed a unique situation in the act of watching cinema where audiences gratify their desires through identification. As Lacan has said, this is an inherent tendency in human beings to have fascinations with images which leads to voyeurism and fetishism.

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