Male Patriarche And Patriarchy In The Girl With The Pearl Earring

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In order to fully understand the following thesis one must understand the terms “male gaze” and “patriarchy.” The male gaze is a theory that was first introduced by Laura Mulvey in her essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema in 1975. She argues “that women on the screen are objectified and reduced to stereotypes” (195 FINISH). Patriarchy can be defined as “the practice of economics being organized by male inheritance and descent” (267 FINISH). The male gaze that The Girl With the Pearl Earring presents is an insinuation of patriarchy that portrays women as powerless sexual objects. Europe during the 17th century often proves the inequality between gender roles with the women being in charge of cooking, cleaning, and childcare, while the men worked and provided for the family. The film is set in 17th century Europe where the viewers are introduced to the famous painter, Johannes Vermeer, and some of his works including “the Girl With the Pearl Earring,” which later proves to be one of his most famous pieces because of the inducement it has on others. Vermeer’s painting is considered “the Mona Lisa of the Dutch” (QUOTE). Within the film we see that the male gaze and patriarchy go hand in hand when it comes to rendering women powerless. An example of this is when Griet, Johannes Vermeer’s maid, was forced to participate in his painting and later pierce her ears. Not only did she have no say in what she did, but she also had no control of her own body. Vermeer is playing the active male in this situation by telling Griet what she has to do while Griet is playing the passive female and simply following the rules. This touches on the common 17th century belief that men are in control and the women are flimsical. Although, today that may seem as strain on women, so is the male gaze that many viewers are unaware of. This presents the underlying issue that media is constructing a society that confines women to be seen as inferior, which dates back further than 17th century Europe.
Another example of the male gaze within the film can be seen in the juxtaposition between Catharina and Griet. Catharina, the wife of Vermeer, represents wealth, the upper class, and social stability. Griet on the other hand, is a maid

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