Tag Archives: feminism

The beauty myth by Naomi Wolf.

One of  feminist theorists, who catch my attention in particular is Naomi Wolf and her book ‘The beauty myth’.

naomi wolf

In the book, the author generally speaks critically about women, that are oppressed by the pressure to fit into the false ideal of beauty. The definition of beauty is widespread in contemporary culture by  white, thin and made-up female model.

In the book I found a lot of interesting and relevant to my topic quotes.

“A cultural fixation on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty but an obsession about female obedience.”

“Sadly, the signals that allow men and women to find the partners who most please them are scrambled by the sexual insecurity initiated by beauty thinking. A woman who is self-conscious can’t relax to let her sensuality come into play. If she is hungry she will be tense. If she is “done up” she will be on the alert for her reflection in his eyes. If she is ashamed of her body, its movement will be stilled. If she does not feel entitled to claim attention, she will not demand that airspace to shine in. If his field of vision has been boxed in by “beauty”–a box continually shrinking–he simply will not see her, his real love, standing right before him.”

“No matter what a woman’s appearance may be, it will be used to undermine what she is saying and taken to individualize – as her personal problem – observations she makes about the beauty myth in society.”

“Female thinness and youth are not in themselves next to godliness in this culture. Society really doesn’t care about women’s appearance per se. What genuinely matters is that women remain willing to let others tell them what they can and cannot have. Women are watched, in other words, not to make sure that they will “be good,” but to make sure that they will know they are being watched.”

“Dieting makes women think of ourselves as sick, religious babies.”
I think that the quotes reflect the fashion for looking perfect and thin in contemporary culture.
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power and sexuality. Barbara Kruger and her conceptual art.

I came across with the name Barbara Kruger recently, when I saw the photographic silkscreen on vinyl , ‘Your body is a battleground.’ This piece comes from 1989 Late 1980s were  the time of retrogressive legislation on women’s rights. The poster was supporting legal abortion birth control and women’s rights.

Then I found some other posters , which were also very powerful and direct. Barbara Kruger used to address directly her slogans to the audience by pronouns: You, we , they.  Her work has usually  feminist provokation and there is a lot about  sex, racial and gender stereotypes, consumerism and power. Contrasting black and white imagery with slogans on red background make them to be very powerful and understandable for the audience.  I have chosen another two pictures of her work, that are relevant to the theme of feminism and objectification.

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Objectifying of woman in art and design. female furniture by Allen Jones.

The fact that woman often appears to have objectified status in art isn’t any surprise. What really amazed me is  that woman has been objectified by male artists, since a prehistoric sculptor  carved the Venus of Willendorf from a lump of rock nearly 28,000 years ago. That sounds like a very long time. Since then the female figure has been objectified as a fertility goddess, as perfect product and an object  of desire.

 

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Allen Jones is a great example of artist, who’s work has a flow of feminist movement. His work is full of irony and it’s quite straightforward. Allen Jones was creating his work in 60’s , and it was the time when woman had narrow range of roles. Women were wife’s, mothers and generally house keepers.  Female furniture by Allen Jones is a clear definition of objectification of woman. Jones’ work  became as well  a symbol for the male sexual culture of the time.

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In a nutshell : The most controversial furniture I’ve ever seen. Very sexual and provocative.  Woman as an object literally and in metaphor.

Continuation to ‘dirty girls’.

The documentary movie ‘Dirty girls’ left me with mixed feelings for the rest of the day. After I watched it once, I had an impression that I missed something and because of that didn’t entirely understand it, I didn’t get why these girls behave in this way. Is it because of they try to catch an attention? Because they are in the age when teens start to have a period of rebellion? Because they just don’t care about how they look like and they don’t want to prove anything and make impression on others ? Or maybe because they have gone through something and they just try to manifest for exaggerated bringing out sexuality by women?  These are only the main questions which came to my mind but I think there could be much more to ask . To find an answer, I did very simple thing-I have watched the video again, paying attention for everything what these girls and the college kids say. The video last less than 20 minutes and obviously the girls are criticised by their peers and they got labelled as ‘dirty girls’ , the ones who don’t take a shower. In my opinion these girls are rebels , by the way they behave and look, but they want to communicate something by that, it’s definitely not just because they don’t care . The last two minutes of the video are very important because one of the girls says something what I didn’t expect and it gave me an answer for the question which was in my had for all day ‘ why they do it for’.   She says ‘ I know a lot of people that have been raped, I know a lot of people that have been sexually molested, I’ve been molested ‘, ‘anyone can know about rape, it doesn’t matter how old you are ‘

Well , these last words which this teen says are the answer for my question and I think there is nothing more to say about it.

Actually I want to add something else. I think that our culture is full of visual texts, (like video clips to songs on youtube, adverts) that promote using female sexuality to provoke. Young girls, inspired by pop female  artists who are nearly naked in the video clips , with provocative make-up, they try to imitate this kind of image and they provoke men ( who is observer and judge) . It often leads to rapes, sexual molesting at very early age. I even don’t know why I say that, because I don’t consider myself being feminist as I like to look sexy too, but this documantary video just made me being aware of how the culture that I live in, leads to objectification of woman . Obviously it doesn’t mean that all girls have to stop of taking care of how they look like after they read this post, because I think that the way we look ,represents ourselves in some way, but just be aware and and think if we (women) want to be considered as objects of desire or we want to be treated as something more, as women with personalities and equal rights as men?

I think that every girl needs to answer herself for this question individually .

 

Dirty girls.

I found this video and I think it’s  just something what is worth to watch.

In 1998 a high school student made a documentary about a group of outcast girls at his high school called the “Dirty Girls.” It’s very interesting that these girls had a feminist view point at only thirteen years old

For me, these girls maybe exceeded the barrier of good taste and aesthetics, because being hygienic and aesthetic is important, but they definitely have something to say and it’s purely feminist manifesto.

Check this out !

It’s just unbelievable how the way we look , changes the way how people treat at look at us. I can imagine these girls wearing fancy clothes, nice make up and high heels, I guess male’s audience would see them as objects of desire , not as some outcast dirty girls.

Further analysis of ” Woman as Objects-Feminist Critique”

Group discussion. Questions and answers.

1. What is the reading about?From this reading, what do you understand about the ideas of Mulvey, Berger and Foucault? What is different and similar about the ideas of these theorists ?

The reading is clearly about objectification of woman . These three theorists have quite similar opinions and they all realize that woman in everyday life, art, cinema is objectified and observed by man and the inequality of both genders .

2.Identify five ‘key words’ that you think are central to this extract.

feminism, gender, objectify, gaze, inequality

3.Identify three ‘key quotes’ that you think are central to the ideas examined in this extract.

‘Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at’ , ‘From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually’ , ‘Women as objects and men as subjects’ , ‘ideas spectator is always assumed to be male and the image of woman is designed to flatter him’.

4.What is the main argument in this extract? Write a series of bullet points to summarise he argument presented in this extract.

The main argument in this extract for the topic of objectification of woman is the fact that man is a spectator and is observing and women has feeling of constantly being watched. Man is a subject and woman is an object.

 

Paragraph summary of the main argument presented in the extract.

 

According to the feminist point of view and three theorists Foucault, Mulvey and Berger, woman is seen through man eyes as an object  of desire and as a perfect product which leads to objectification of status of woman. It’s spread nowadays in adverts, art, movies.  Woman is a perfect product, which is easily exchangeable,  and her outward image plays a role of flattering man.  It starts in an early childhood when young girl is persuaded by her society to constantly survey herself. Male as a spectator gaze and judge female and it leads to constant impression of being surveyed and judged . In most visual texts , woman is an object  and man is a subject.

 

 

Women as objects and men as subjects. My own analysis of the extract.’Woman as Objects – Feminist Critique’

 

After I’ve read the extract for the lecture, ” Woman as Objects-Feminist Critique”  from the book ” A Queer Romance ” by Evans and Gamman, I was quie surprised when I realised that three feminist critiques whose opinions are in the exract are very similar , despite of the fact that they were living in slightly different times. John Berger discuss the way women are objectified in the represenations of Western culture , by looking at oil paintings in the European tradition . Females body appears in fine art , film, adverts and it affects cultural and personal definitions of feminity and masculnity. One sentence drawn my attention in particular : ” Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at ” – John Berger try to explain, that in our culture the spectator is ‘usually assumed to be male’. Later on, in the extract, there appears a sentence ( which is also Bergers opinion) ” The ideal spectator is always assumed to be male and the image of woman is designed to flatter him.” I think that today’s society reflects very well what John Berger said. I believe that objectification of females body in art, adverts(in particular), video clips, movies has big impact on how man perceive woman and how it affects both genders. Women is sen through men’s eyes as perfect product, ready to consumption , and also men observe the opposite sex ( he is a spectator ) and it leads to feelinf of being observed and judged. Female is this weaker gender and is “created to please man” .