The 'voyeuristic treatment of the human body' can be associated with Mulvey's theories of the male gaze.
Mulvey wrote in a seminal work in feminist film theory entitled "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" (1975) in which she came up with the theory of a 'male gaze'.
There were three elements to the male gaze:
- The gaze of the camera - as it pans up and down a female body, for example.
- The gaze of the male actor - shots of males looking at women and then at the shot of the female body being looked at
- The gaze if the audience - what the audience look at (even female audience members were positioned within a male gaze)
Essentially, the male gaze treats women as passive sexual objects who are just there to be looked at. The representation of females was quite often fragmented so that it was just the sexual parts of the body that the male gazed at. For example: a tilt shot from a woman's legs, up her body, stopping at her chest, with no 'need' to look at her face (again, treating women as sexual objects).
However, the major flaw in Mulvey's theory is that she assumes that all audiences were passive and couldn't step outside of this male gaze. Her research also failed to take into account that modes of representation are not fixed. In reality, ideologies shift and evolve over time, making her research relatively outdated nowadays.
Instead of the audience just being passive and accepting the male gaze, different types of audiences can make oppositional readings of a text. You only have to look at the more sexualised representation of the male body to demonstrate how gender representations have changed, such as Lady GaGa's video for Alejandro:
- Rolls are reversed (objectifies men)
- Queer gaze - objectifying men for the purpose of addressing gay men
- Pink Pound - targeting gay men as they have the highest disposable income - gay couples generally don't have any children, for example.
- Switching of power
- Political act - changing the way males see females. In both of these images (right and below) the female, Lady GaGa, is in control or has the power.