Magic Mike: Sexually Empowering…but for who?

By showing the “frenzied, excited ready-to-throw-money-at the screen ladies” (Jezebel) in the movie, Magic Mike seems to give women in the real-world audience permission to behave similarly; objectifying men and feeling (supposedly) sexually empowered.

Is Magic Mike actually shot through the female gaze just because it displays extremely sexualized male nudity or does simply reinforce male sexual dominance by showing men surrounded by crowds of adoring, desperate (and, theoretically, sexually submissive) women?

In the words of The Kid, stripping successfully by the end of the movie, “Now I can fuck who I want to fuck.”

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One thought on “Magic Mike: Sexually Empowering…but for who?

  1. You raise an interesting point about the supposed strong female gaze in the movie. Certainly, the male gaze shows most clearly once the characters are out of their stripping personas, but in a way the stripping scenes also reinforce the male gaze because the women in these scenes are not at all dominant. They are the audience while the men are the objects, but the men remain very much in control. As male strippers, the characters in the movie occupy the traditionally female space of sex object on display for the pleasure of the opposite sex. By reverting to the male gaze when the characters move off stage as well as by emphasizing the sexual nature of their relationships with women and their ability to titillate women while onstage, the narrative seeks (whether consciously or unconsciously) to break from the feminine space and reaffirm their masculinity and their position within society as “real men.” The stripping scenes are thus shot through the male gaze via the female gaze.

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