For other uses, seeGaze (disambiguation).The 'Gaze' is a psychoanalytical term brought into popular usage byJacquesLacanto describe a condition where the mature autonomous subject observes"the observation of himself" in a mirror. The psychological effect, Lacanargues, is that the subject's autonomy is brought into question by theprojection of her 'identity' on to an exterior object. "tat tvam asi" (thatwhich you are) This concept is bound with his theory of the mirror stage,where in childhood, conceives the formation of external identities, (Lacanposits a mirror but any object will do) Lacan suggests that the effect 'Gaze'of the mirror can similarly be produced by any conceivable object, i e. Achair or a television screen. The idea that a chair or a television screen canstare back at one is not read literally by Lacan or his adherents and thismisconception is popularly stated by his detractors to attempt discredit him.Michel Foucaultalso had a distinct conception of the gazemedical gazeinhis social theories, although the common usage of the term is of theLacanian one.
, in sympathy withthe Lacanian statement that "Woman is a symptom of man." what thismeans is that femininity is a social construct, and that the feminine objectthe object petit a, or the object of desire, is what constitutes the male lack,and thus his positive identity.
Bracha Ettingercriticizes this notion of the male gaze by her proposition of a
Here there is no more question of positing a subjectversus an object, neither a question of two figures looking at each other andeffectively constituting a double gaze. The matrixial gaze is not operativewhere a "Male Gaze" is placed opposite to a "Female Gaze" and where bothpositive entities constitute each other from a lack (such an umbrella conceptof the gaze would precisely be what scholars such asSlavoj
ekclaim isthe Lacanian definition of "The Gaze.") Ettinger's proposal doesn't concern asubject and its object, existing or lacking. Rather, it concerns "trans-subjectivity" and shareability on a partial level, and it is based on her claimconcerning a feminine-matrixial difference that escapes the phallic oppositionof masculine/feminine and is produced in a process of co-emergence.Ettinger works from the very late Lacan, yet, from the angle she brings, it isthe structure of the Lacanian subject itself that is deconstructed to a certainextent, and another kind of feminine dimension appears, with its hybrid andfloating matrixial gaze.