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The Portrayal of Women in Art and Photography

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Introduction

Since time began, a woman has conventionally had a different social status to a man, a status which only now is beginning to change. A woman has an all together different presence to a man. A man's presence is dependant on the power he appears to have. It suggests what he is capable of doing to or for you. He is the giver, and it is this presence that defines men as men. A woman however gives off a sense of what can be done to or for her. She can consciously or subconsciously create an aura; the way she speaks, her expression, voice and her exterior appearance. The way she receives is a direct result of the way she has presented herself. Perhaps men are not aware of the details, but more of the overall aura a woman gives off; he then uses this in order he know how to treat her. However, at the beginning of time, a woman cannot have been aware of herself in this way, and hence must have been conditioned to do so. This is not a natural reaction, but throughout western society woman has been habituated to care how they appear to men. ...read more.

Middle

She is naked as the spectator sees her, and naked for the spectator. In classical paintings, we often see woman with mirrors; the woman here is viewing herself as the spectator would view her when viewing the painting. In fact, this is embedded in tradition: since art began, women have been painted to be looked at by men, and have more often than not appeared naked, or nude. There is a distinct difference between being naked, and being nude. To be naked is to be without clothing, but to be nude is to be naked but seen as a body. A nude is an object, not a person. Where nakedness reveals oneself, nudity is nakedness placed on display, and is the result of being looked at naked. In art we find that it is the woman that is naked; we would actually find it strange to see a naked posing man, because in traditional art the convention is that the man is the painter and the woman is the object to be viewed. Hence (traditional) paintings assume the viewer is a man, they are always painted from a male perspective, but perhaps this is because it is only relatively recently that woman have been accepted, and respected for their art. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, even in modern society, it would appear that even the most self disregarding woman will be this way because she wants to give off a certain aura to a man. For example, an extreme feminist will most likely be behaving the way she is in order for man to see her behaving that way: if man did not exist, then she would feel no need to portray herself as such. It seems likely to me that women will always, no matter how subconsciously, survey themselves as a man would see them. We only have to look at the media and advertising nowadays to realize that the role of women and men has not particularly changed. Perhaps this is because women will always be feminine, and men will always be masculine, it is human nature. We do not have to feel that it is sexism. However, the ideal spectator is still assumed to be a male. The image that woman has flatters him, that she cares so much how she appears to him, and that she is willing to receive. We only have to consider how many female beauty products we can find in a cosmetics store in comparison to male - a direct result of women surveying themselves. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 John Berger: Ways of Seeing/3 ...read more.

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