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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Lasell chapter.

What is the female gaze? Well, the female gaze is the way a director or a writer portrays a character (usually a female character) in the view of how women view women. Sometimes the female gaze can be shown through certain actions the character takes or their personality. The female gaze is the opposite of the male gaze which is when a character (usually women) is portrayed in the view of males. In this article, I will be sharing my favorite example of the female gaze in the movie Birds of Prey with the main character, Harley Quinn. This is my favorite example of the female gaze because it takes the character from a previous movie with an already developed storyline that was codded in the male gaze and creates what feels like a brand new character. 

Harley Quinn in the film Suicide Squad is heavily sexualized and is seen more as a flirty object. Harley’s character wears revealing clothing and has interesting camera angles to help enhance the clothing and reduce to only her sex appeal. For example, in the scene with Harley, the Joker, and a criminal in the club we see Harley dancing exotically with other women and the camera zooms in on her when she grinds on top of the chain. She then returns to the two men and is used as a “gift” to the criminal showing how she is just an object.

On the other hand in the Birds of Prey movie, the clothes seem to be toned down, the camera angles are focused to further the storyline and we watch Harley be a real person rather than just an object. There is a good parallel between the club scene from Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey by having Harley dance around the club and grind on a pole but the characters around give expressions that seem annoyed and disgusted because she is enjoying herself and not wearing revealing clothing. This scene shows Harley getting drunk and acting like how a regular person would when drunk and not being used as a toy. This comparison shows exactly how the female and the male gaze are completely different from one another. It is amazing how the same character from the same movie universe was about to feel like two very different characters. I like Birds of Prey more than Suicide Squad, not only because it was from a female gaze standpoint but also because of the pacing and camera angle choices.

Yani Galarza is a member of Her Campus at Lasell chapter. Yani is currently a sophomore at Lasell University, studying psychology. Her hobbies include dancing, binge-watching K-dramas, and indulging in sports in her free time. You can find her either in her room trading K-pop photocards or on the third floor of her building with her best friend watching The Nanny while doing work.