Empowered by Tatum’s abs?

In Magic Mike, as soon as the male strippers leave the stage, the female gaze seems to retreat for a more predominant male gaze: the plot is driven by the actions of the male main characters who spend a lot of time with hyper-sexualized females.  As Jennifer Smith explains, “though the movie claims to be (and was certainly marketed to be) a film all about flipping sexist tropes and celebrating the female gaze, it can’t help falling back into problematic mainstream patterns: the male gaze, virgin/whore dichotomies, and the vilification of female pleasure.”

Do you think the inherently performative nature of stripping detracts from any “active controlling sense” (Mulvey) that the female viewer (both within the film and in the audience) might assume? In other words, can we really consider Magic Mike a wholesome example of the female gaze if the men in this film are simply performing their sexuality to get what they want from women (i.e. sex and money)?


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