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 On Irigaray’s terms, in order to consume Western media as intended, a woman must situate herself in a virtual male subject position: ‘the spectator’ is either an actual man or a virtually masculinized woman. Might this formula co­-ordinate the displacement of fig.33? Rather than being sited in the imagery itself, the masculine–female subject would be situated within the female spectator. How does this work in action? Take our constrained scenario: two typical A|X shoppers (our particular f & m) confront (themselves in) two Archetypal larger­-than-life A|X models (our Universal M & F). In an equitable scenario (say, a TV ad for a retirement fund, in which an elderly couple reciprocates concerns), each of the four loci would share three bilateral vectors. But of course here they are not: in this encounter, viewing subjects and viewed objects recirculate through asymmetrically open and closed narrative spaces. Such images cater to a (relatively) sophisticated target audience by playing at gender­-role subversion within (relatively) strict constraints. To locate the power relations (playfully, partially, abortively) called into question, we must isolate the individual elements.

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 Unlike the Square, which favors one primordial X­-axis, a Plot can criss­-cross oppositions from any pair of corners; in the optic chiasm of fig.42 (above) we can retrace tropes from means to ends. For example, her sunglasses are masculine in both form (classic ‘aviator’ style) and function (as mirrored ‘cop glasses’)—but the distinction is emblematic: the pilot’s tinted shades are an emblem of high­-stakes heroism; the policeman’s mirrored glaze reflects the impenetrable Authority of Law (in my guilty self­-image). As the eyes of m or f meet neither M nor F, intersubjectivity is perpetually deferred. I can enjoy His gaze vicariously, yet we remain trapped inside the image: M is ‘free’ to gaze—but only upon F; conversely, Her gaze strives towards an implied m, yet her imaginary escape is voided by the mirror. Again: as an m, my direct gaze at F is reflected as by an unattainable object; as I project to M’s place to indirectly enjoy his view, I am (we are) subjectivized only by entering a parasitic loop. As an f, my gaze at M is refractive, i.e., bent and deflected to M’s gaze upon F; if consequently I identify with F, I too am objectified, and as such, alienated from my own subjectivity.

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