For this project I have decided to address the issue of the superfluous sexualisation of women. Women are constantly depicted in popular culture as sexual objects, and this has influenced the way that we as a society – as creators, viewers and consumers of popular culture – see women. Women everywhere are perceived as vessels for the relief of sexual desire, whether or not they have sought to be sexualised in this way.
It is my point of view that a woman should be allowed to express her sexuality. If she wishes to model lingerie, wear tight clothing in order to show off her figure, or pose nude, she should be allowed to. It is her choice how she displays her body. It is when her body is displayed in a sexualised manner without her consent that a problem arises. If the way a woman dresses is perceived as sexually provocative despite the woman wanting to remain desexualised, there is a problem.
The problem is that we (society) have begun to see “sexiness” where there is none.
At the heart of this problem is the media. The cosmetics, fashion, and porn industries are constantly circulating imagery depicting “ideal women”. These women have been surgically altered and/or digitally edited to create and promote a “perfect” body image – which is, in reality, unattainable -in order to sell us products. This mass advertising has desensitised us; we are no longer surprised to see, scattered throughout our everyday lives, billboards and posters that feature enlarged pictures of the female anatomy, reinforcing the body image that every women should aim to have. This has caused us to develop the notion that women exist simply for decoration; that a woman is simply “parts” made for exhibition, rather than a whole being. When we see a woman as “parts” instead of an entire individual, it is much easier to objectify her.
When a woman is objectified, she loses ownership of her body. Objectification makes possible the attempt to trivialise and justify sexual assault; one cannot sexually assault an object, or something we only see as “parts”, because sexual assault is something exacted upon another individual. This mindset is evident in the common treatment of women that one would observe in any ordinary situation; walking through an urban neighbourhood, for example. Making sleazy comments, casually groping a woman, leering, wolf-whistles, and catcalls, are all actions directed at women that are overlooked and considered to be a ‘normal’ way of life. What’s worse is that this demeaning treatment has no age constraint; women of all ages, as well as adolescent girls, are targeted.
The sexualisation of adolescents is an ever-increasing problem. Child modelling – which places underage girls in skimpy underwear and suggestive poses – is fast becoming more acceptable (popular, even), as are similar representations of young girls in popular culture. This kind of media portrayal pressures girls into thinking they should be more like women and less like children while still at a very young age, which makes them believe it is okay for them to be sexualised in the same way that women are.
So why does this unwanted sexualisation of females continue? Is it because women in general are afraid to protest the social norms that tell them they need public validation to have any worth? Is it because sexualisation has become such a normal thing to do that it’s no longer seen as a problem? I hope to create an item of visual activism that not only contains the answer to this question, but provides a stepping stone towards finding the solution to the problems which arise when we leave such a question unanswered.
“Maybe I’m not ‘fuckable’… That’s fine, I’m not for you to fuck” – Diane Goldie for StyleLikeU
* Male validation
* Losing ownership of your body
* Women as decoration
* “I don’t get that [catcalls] anymore… Maybe they think I’m not fuckable. That’s fine, I’m not for you to fuck.”
* “What’s your favourite part of your body?” “The whole of it… you know why? I don’t want it to be a part. I am whole. I’m not bits.”
* “My body… belongs to me, and is not for anybody else unless I care to share it. I have ownership.”
#StandUp video campaign
* “There’s a societal standard that’s put up in the media, and then women try to meet it… there’s no winning.”
* “We raise our little girls to see their bodies as projects to constantly be improved.”
* “Girls are growing up thinking that how they look is more important than how they feel, or who they are, and what they can do.”
Planning and Preparation
Content and Visual Text Analysis Tools
Research and Information Gathering Tools and Protocols
Ideologies are what make up our world views. Visual texts are used to capture these ideologies, but the ‘myth of photographic truth’ can mean that the perception of these ideologies change between the point a text is made available for viewing by the creator, and the point it is viewed and interpreted by an audience. This means that our perception of an ideology- and therefore our world view – is easily warped and manipulated.
The producer of any visual text is likely to be someone who has access to the many modern technologies made available to Western cultures in the present day. Therefore the producer is likely to create a text that conforms to Western ideologies and enforces the dominate Western world view upon the viewer of the text. The viewer of this text may not be a Westerner, however, which means they will interpret the text differently from someone who has had direct experience with the ideologies depicted by the text. It is in this way that the meanings of visual texts are changed.
Stachl, Erna. 237.130 Communications in Creative Cultures: Week 7 lecture.
Wellington, New Zealand: College of Creative Arts, Massey U. 27 April
2016. Slideshow and lecture. 17 May 2016.
Whyte, Dick. 237.130 Communications in Creative Cultures: Week 7 lecture.
Wellington, New Zealand: College of Creative Arts, Massey U. 27 April
2016. Slideshow and lecture. 17 May.
From a personal perspective, what has been the most interesting to you so far in this paper?
The aspect of this paper that has appealed to me the most has been the introduction to an entirely new perspective regarding the basic function of humanity. I have found Mirzoeff’s views on the way we interact with one another and the Earth quite intriguing and have greatly appreciated the chance to absorb these new ideas and explore them further.
Think about the content, readings, resources, tasks and approach, so far. Comment on what has worked for you? Why?
The deviation from traditional artistic themes was something I discovered to be unexpectedly welcome in this paper. I really enjoyed being given the opportunity to explore things I was passionate about (such as music and the environment) that stepped outside the boundaries of what people usually consider to be “art”, and discovering how they are, in fact, related to art. having a range of topics to address throughout the course of this pier, rather than the same one repeated over and over, was pleasant.
What has not worked so well for you? Why?
I found the amount of work that we were given to be overwhelming. It was hard for me to absorb anything, because I felt as though I was just having information pushed at me rather than actually taking anything in and learning. Some of the tasks that we were given seemed unnecessary, and I believe that it would have been more beneficial to exclude these, as I would have then been more capable of absorbing the remaining knowledge that was actually useful.
How have your ideas, assumptions, knowledge’s and ways of working been challenged?
I have been encouraged me to consider various perspectives in my writing. Sometimes I’ll get so caught up in the singular point of view that I have chosen to adapt, that I’ll forget how relevant the opposing perspective can be to what it is I’m trying to say. This paper has honed me into constantly checking to see if the points I make are applicable to the minority as well as the majority.
What creative approaches have you taken when doing this paper?
I feel as though over time I have had to adjust my style of writing so that I could express myself in a more concise manner when necessary. Knowing that I had to write less meant I often approached tasks with this in mind, and therefore became experienced in pinpointing the key words of what I had to do, and keys ideas in texts I had to use.
Explain how the approaches, strategies, skills and/or processes encouraged in this paper be useful to you in your other BDes/BFA projects/modules/papers.
This paper has taught me to evaluate the way in which I think about and approach academic tasks. It has trained me to acknowledge the thought processes and practises that take place as I go through the process of analysation and putting this analysation into words. This paper has expanded my manner of thinking so that I am now conscious of all contextualisation and critical thinking that takes place when I am looking at or writing about a visual text. All of the subject matter I create in my other papers benefits from being approached in this manner.
Do you think you have a different or a new appreciation for a paper like this and its relevance to your desired art or design practice?
Being able to consciously analyse and identify the context of a visual text is vital to any artist or designers practise, and I definitely feel as though this paper has introduced me to some new techniques that will help me hone my skills in these areas.
These two videos – although they both address the topic of visual literacy – seemed to me to have rather different points. The first video seemed like a visual embodiment of a dictionary definition; for the most part the speakers simply explained their own interpretations of what visual literacy means. The Martin Scorcese video, however, was more personal; Scorsese brought his own individual experiences to the table. The clip was less about what visual literacy is, and more about why it’s necessary, how it broadens our minds, and how we must incorporate it into everything we do.
I definitely found the second video more engaging and would recommend this to others over the first clip, because it felt like I could connect on some level to what Scorcese was saying. His exploration of various ways we can become visually literate, and why we should do this was more interesting to listen to than the first clip’s authoritative summary of what visual literacy is. However, I do feel like the first video was more effective in clarifying the term ‘visual literacy’ for me, due to the straightforward, concise points being made.
(all quotes attributed to Scorsese)
Word Cloud of key words and phrases from ‘The Changing World’ (Chapter 6 of Mirzoeff’s ‘How to See the World’):
MindMap of key words from my chosen essay question:
By combining the key words and phrases that I drew from Chapter 6 with the key words and task words from the essay question, I was able to formulate a sense of the key ideas and issues that could be found in the chapter ‘The Changing World’ which would enable me to sufficiently answer my essay question:
“Modern Beauty”: paragraph 10, pg 233 -234
The normalisation of pollution causes the public to form new, blurred perceptions of their environments that glaze over the changes taking place (Mirzoeff, 233). In 1912, people of all social classes who lived near the East River of New York were prepared to ignore the condition of the river so that they could continue using it as a dumping ground; a resource provided for their convenience (Mirzoeff, 234; Phelps et al., 1006). Eventually the pollution of the river became a normality and was no longer considered a problem (Mirzoeff, 234).
In exactly 5 minutes, write down everything you can remember of your chosen chapter in Mirzoeff’s ‘How to See the World’ and copy it verbatim into your blog: