One of many problems with the current imbalance in our industry is that when we predominantly present news through the male gaze, we codify and reinforce that perspective. It’s important for society that we spend just as much time seeing our world through a female perspe…
If this nation wants to re-elect Trump, let’s continue to talk about “gender politics” and “identity politics.” I certainly don’t want such a specious and polarizing debate to threaten relationships between photojournalists.
The implication that a “male gaze” would influence the focus of men looking through a lens, and that a somehow disparate “female gaze” can offer an alternative point of view looking through the same lens — a more appropriate point of view, no less, for who knows what kinds of subject matter! — is, by definition, insulting to the objective profession of photojournalism. Trying to differentiate a gender gaze is tantamount to putting gender gauze over one’s lens.
Certainly it’s a goal — and about time! — to recruit more female photojournalists. I’d like to encourage women and men to speak out on that topic, to get more young women and girls to pick up a camera. But it serves no good purpose to talk about how excluding or inhibiting men from shooting something, if a woman deigns it to be her sex’s exclusive domain. Hence the idea of an exclusive group, or agency, comprised exclusively of female photographers is a really bad idea; a self-defeating idea.
It has been alleged by one female shooter that when an overwhelming percentage of storytellers are men, it becomes a public statement that female storytellers don’t matter. By implication, it also means that men cannot be illustrating the truth.
While my evidence is only anecdotal, the majority of women who assigned me to shoot pictures for magazines, the people who told me where to point my lens and then selected which pictures got published — the photo editors — during my thirty years of shooting were mostly women. I think they had a great deal to say about storytelling perspective. And don’t forget the two women who ran the two biggest photo agencies in America throughout the 1980s (Eliane Laffont at Sygma and the late Jennifer Coley at Gamma-Liaison). If any female photojournalists dropped the ball since then, it’s on them. Go out and recruit your sisters!