Essay on Panopticism In The Day I Became A Woman

This analysis will examine the following focal points, panopticism, scoptophilic instincts, and visual pleasure. First, the analysis will examine panopticism in relation to embedded “secret politics” within the film, The Day I Became a Woman. Second, the analysis will compare both scoptophilic instinct with visual pleasure. In Chapter Five, Panopticism, which appears in Visual Culture: the reader, Michel Foucault explores the, “generalized model of functioning”, when defining panopticism. Foucault describes the plague which occurred in the seventieth century.

In the attempt to control the outbreak of the plague, the town enforced strict isolation which is defined as disciplinary projects. “it called for the massive, binary division between one set of people and another, it called for multiple separations, individualizing distributions and ramification enclosure” (Foucault, 1999). This of course defined the difference between the “leper”, and the plague. This identifies two ways in which power is distributed. Foucault defines this power as, disciplinary power.

Also, inserting examples of the idea of Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, in order to explain power and discipline in an unconscious form. Foucault, 1999). The prison was constructed to where the prisoners could only see the front of the cell, and the sides were bricked off. “He is seen, but he does not see; he is the object of information, never a subject in communication” (Foucault, 1999). The idea is that “power should be visible and verifiable” (Foucault, 1999). Foucault also analyzes political anatomy, and panoptic principle. Foucault defines political anatomy as rituals influenced and disciplined by others and is executed abstractedly. Panoptic Principle is considered the “new political anatomy” (Foucault, 1999). The women in the film,

The Day I Became a Woman, unconsciously perform rituals without any thought or question. One example is all the women in the film wear an article of clothing defined as an abaya. The only female not wearing the cloak is the little girl in the beginning of the film. Towards the end of her story, her mother escorts her away from her childhood friend, and puts an abaya around her. This signifies the end of her childhood. According to laws in Saudi Arabia, women have to wear the abaya in public. Continuing with Chapters Twenty-One and Twenty-Five, both Scoptophilic instinct and visual pleasure could coincide in the context.

In Chapter Twenty-One, Fenichel examines studies conducted by Freudian approach in examining the scoptophilic instinct and identification. The eyes are used as sexual foreplay. “Since sight is the sense by which human beings are mainly guided, we must regard it as the chief agent in the production of fore pleasure, through all the same time, we must remember that it is precisely in the realm of sensuality that the so-called lower senses are most prominent” (Fenichel, 1999). The definition of Scopophilia is the pleasure of looking.

This definition could coincide with Chapter Twenty-Five, where Mulvey discusses visual pleasure and narrative cinema. In Chapter Twenty-Five Mulvey discusses the pleasures of looking, and how film producers utilize this to create films. Mulvey explains that the instinct of looking can be defined as the “construction of ego, it continues to exist as the erotic basis for pleasure in looking at another person or object” (Mulvey, 1999). Mulvey explains that the viewer seeks satisfaction in a dark auditorium, and the contrast between the light and dark stimulate an illusion of “voyeuristic separation” (Mulvey, 1999).

The women in the films are displayed as sexual objects and plays into the male’s desires. Also, the man controls the film fantasy, and this builds a sense of power (Mulvey, 1999). Most women that are portrayed in films, are beautiful. This creates an image of the “perfect woman”, in which most men fantasize about. Mulvey describes three different ways to break down the traditional filmic pleasure in three parts, “that of the camera as it records the pro-filmic event, that of the audience as it watches the final product, and that of the characters at each other within the screen illusion (Mulvey, 1999).