Gaze is a psychoanalytical term brought into popular usage by Jacques Lacan to describe the anxious state that comes with the awareness that one can be viewed. The psychological effect, Lacan argues, is that the subject loses a degree of autonomy upon realizing that he or she is a visible object. This concept is bound with his theory of the mirror stage, in which a child encountering a mirror realizes that he or she has an external appearance. Lacan suggests that this gaze effect can similarly be produced by any conceivable object such as a chair or a television screen. This is not to say that the object behaves optically as a mirror; instead it means that the awareness of any object can induce an awareness of also being an object.
The male gaze occurs when the camera puts the audience into the perspective of a heterosexual man. It may linger over the curves of a woman's body, for instance. The woman is usually displayed on two different levels: as an erotic object for both the characters within the film, as well as the spectator who is watching the film. The man emerges as the dominant power within the created film fantasy
The Female Gaze is a Gaze trope about the way a work is presented as from a female perspective or reflects female attitudes, either because of the creator's gender or because it is aimed at a female audience.
While it can contribute to it, Female Gaze is not restricted to looking at sexy men but is more importantly about the expectations of how the (presumptive) audience relates to the work.
Female Gaze is (almost) a Distaff Counterpart to Male Gaze, the trope page for which is currently full of "ogling women" examples but extends beyond that into the stuff that's currently on Most Writers Are Male. We write "almost" because of the fact that Male Gaze is pervasive and the default for works aimed at mixed-gender audiences, whereas Female Gaze is mainly found in works that are either assumed to be exclusively for women,...