In 1973, British film theorist Laura Mulvey described the “active/passive hetero sexual division of labor,” declaring that men “cannot bear the burden of sexual objectification.” You heard it: They simply cannot bear it. Pleasure of display is warranted in art; in film, it’s a requirement. Unlike men, women are naturalized purveyors of the sexually bombastic stares that are attributed purely to our bodies. And like art, it seems, we must enjoy the suggestive indolence of Jesse watching Céline as together they cart their way through Vienna in Before Sunrise; or fawn over the crisp intensity of Count Laszlo de Almásy as he, soaking in rapacity, watches Katharine Clifton in The English Patient. Or perhaps sometimes it’s even the sleight of the camera, a stand-in for the tangible male gaze, as we watch the sway of hips from behind float sinuously in a floral qipao worn by Maggie Cheung in Wong Kar-wai’s masterpiece In The Mood For Love. Women are bequeathed the gaze, and we are all too familiar. Historically, men cannot bear such ostensible prying and so women, in their stead, are forced to.
Fariha Roísín On Hypermasculinity and Objectfication of Men in Magic Mike XXL