THE MALE GAZE IN SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
By David Crow
Clarice’s biggest enemy in Silence of the Lambs is the Male Gaze.
The Silence of the Lambs is one of the most lauded horror movies of all time.
The rare film to sweep all five major categories at the Oscars, it picked up awards for Best Picture, Best Actor…
… and Best Actress for Jodie Foster as FBI trainee Clarice Starling.
Even so, Clarice’s journey is often overlooked because of her co-star’s eating habits.
But while serial killers are bad, Clarice’s greatest enemy may be the male gaze.
With intelligent direction, Silence quietly, but unmistakably, critiques the menace of casual misogyny.
It’s there in the opening sequence when Clarice enters an elevator in an FBI building surrounded by towering white men.
And it’s there in the way Dr. Chilton offers a smiling, icky proposition to Clarice in a professional setting.
Even Hannibal Lecter’s eyes are all-consuming.
But at least Dr. Lecter confesses to the monster in the room, asking “Don’t you feel eyes all over your body?”
Clarice overcomes it all though she’s the one to finally corner Buffalo Bill, a killer of women.
And with exception of reassuring flashbacks of her father...Buffalo Bill is the only male whose eyes we view Clarice through.
It's gross and covetous. And it ends with his slaughter. Clarice is no one’s victim.