Thursday, April 8, 2010

Identity Politics, John Ruskin & ladies in their (very) smalls.

I was doing some notemaking and writing for my feminist zinework and stumbled upon a thought, it's probably not highly original, but it's a good analogy. Anyway, I was thinking about identity politics and how the term is used disparagingly to describe the 'frivolous' concerns of feminists who choose to consider representation as an important issue as opposed to activism in other areas. And I was thinking that, in a visual culture, where much of what we perceive of our roles in the world and of things other than our own direct experience is through the media, digital and all manner of coma inducing flickering screens and magazines that are as so far from smart they're, well, far away, the representation of adult women to young women is a very important issue. The iconic/ubiquitous/replicated images of women in the public domain have potency. Especially when these images are disseminating very narrow visions of what women might be, and also very importantly where women might be. To overtly sexualize representations of women, even out in broad daylight (for an immediate example Victoria's Secret ads above the store on Broadway or almost any magazine stand er anywhere), is to relegate them to the private sphere, the bedroom, to continue to propagate the Victorian notion that male=public & female=the home, albeit in a slightly different way to the likes of John Ruskin and his ilk, too much ankle for his lot I think, although he'd probably have given the practice of Brazilian waxing the thumbs up.

Anyway, the analogy I mentioned above: Have you ever been told, that to lessen the feelings of fear when giving a presentation one might try imagining the audience in their underwear as this serves to make them seem less intimidating, more comical, more vulnerable to you invulnerable clothedness? Let’s think about that for a moment…How often do we see images, in public, on the internet etc. of women in their underwear (or less)? That’s right all the time. Is this a coincidence? Probably not so much. So, as I said it's not the most ground-breaking thing, but sometimes I think it helps to be able to succinctly express why things are troubling, it stops one sounding like the Le Tigre track '
They want to make a symphony out of the sound of women swallowing their own tongues' when asked the question what's the problem? Why are you a feminist? err and um, and there's.... and um, and there's.... (can't disabled blinking italics).

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