The gaze is a Feminist theory developed to highlight the power imbalance between men and women analysing the way men see women, the way women view themselves and other women. The theory suggests that an audience are forced to view the text from the perspective a heterosexual male, films constantly focus on women’s curves and events that happen to them are portrayed at a male angle. The male gaze denies women human agency, relegating them to the status of objects. Therefore the female viewers experience the text narrative secondarily, by identifying with a man’s perspective (male gaze). In addition she argues that sexism can also occur in the way the text is presented. Moreover, people are encouraged to gaze at women in advertising that sexualizes a woman's body even when the woman's body is unrelated to the advertised product.
Mulvey suggests that the audience view the films in two ways: voyeuristically and fetishistically. As audiences watch films without being watched by the characters they become onlookers of their lives. Therefore they become voyeurs of the people on screen. This can lead to two effects: objectification and narcissistic identification. Voyeurism involves turning the represented figure into a fetish so it becomes increasingly beautiful but more objectified.
It has been contended filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock objectified his female subjects, positioning them to merely arouse the audience.