Woman as Object- Feminist Critiques- Summary

The writing by Caroline Evens and Lorraine Gamman on how women are looked at, through males eyes in society. ‘ Woman as object’ upholds very strong ideas about women being ‘Gazed’ at and how they are adorned by men but not through a protective way but through a crude and animalistic way. Mulvey’s states women are being objectified in a male society, only worth what a possession might be to a man. Taking the idea of women as objects is also seen in Berger’s writing about how women are portrayed in different ways through artworks and image. He states women are ‘ objectified in the representation of western culture’ and how this alone shows how differently women were treated to other cultures. He says also ‘ it reduced everything to the equality of objects’ as if everything was exchangeable and could be bought or sold for better. This way of life for women, however, has been expected from a young age so have had no chance of changing it. In 1972 Berger explains ‘to be born a woman is to be born, within an allotted and confined space, into the keeping of men’, enhancing the thought of objectifying women.

Foucault however, believes women are being surveyed and inspected so need to change the way they act because they are being constantly looked at. Because they feeling like eyes are on them all the time they discipline themselves to act a certain way therefore changing there lifestyle to satisfy men. This then all leads to women’s oppression and inequality from being controlled by men constantly checking what they look like and how they act.

Said uses the word ‘spectator’ to describe male surveillance of women. This suggests women could be looked at like a sport giving a different perception of how women need to act. With this statement women would not just perform, but to their best ability to please a man.

This way of looking at women is a very old fashioned way of life nowadays in western cultures. Some feminists however may think women are being oppressed through appearance from cosmetics and the media.

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The Shop Girl

The department store was a big development sourced from the Industrial Revolution. The big leap in modernisation allowed mass production of goods and movement of people through urbanisation. The Victorian boom in department stores stunted the growth and prosperity of independent Tailors and dressmakers with ‘ready to wear’ clothes and off the shelf products. A consumer culture emerged with the decorative window displays and advertisement of products, for example, Selfridges Christmas window in 1935. The fixed, marked pricing of goods made department stores available to the middle class leading to the democratisation of shopping, removing embarrassment if a product was too expensive.

The invention of the motor car allowed people to access the department stores easily and sped up the transportation of goods. The new inventions of technologies can be first seen in department stores such as elevators and escalators. The first elevator was installed in 1957 in a New York department store. Over all, it had its benefits developing the department stores and other retailers that are around today.

As well as its benefits, the first department stores treated their staff poorly that lead to risks to health and wellbeing. In history, this side of the department store has little record of the exploitation of workers. Women were employed on the shop floor for long working hours standing, given poor wages and had to pay fines if they were not working to the best of their ability. This caused health problems such as, weakening of the body and infertility. Poor accommodation and banning them for joining trade unions further reduced their freedom, restricting them to spend the money they were paid and have a chance to improve their working life.

Window Display Selfridges 1935

Window Display Selfridges 1935

Making Histories

Why are some aspects of the past recorded and others not?

History is a huge subject to consider, so when historians interpret the facts in relation to the wider story how true are they? I believe the past to be Chaotic, messy and fragmented, when really it is mostly recorded by historians to make sense, have patterns and be coherent.

Through the arts certain subjects or products are recorded in paintings or sculpture such as Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes in 1964. The way he has chosen to record an everyday object could be his way of recording everyday life in his art works. His work is acknowledged by historians because they were not mass produced like the original’s, but individually hand painted and crafted. But why Brillo Boxes? Why not another everyday object? Edward. H. Carr comments suggesting that ‘all history is a history of the present’, we only look ‘though present eyes’ and choose the facts about the highlights or what we want to remember now. Finding the truth in history means needing more than one account of a subject to get a better overall view.

Andy Warhol Brillo Boxes 1964

Andy Warhol Brillo Boxes 1964

With resources today such as the Internet we have a chance of knowing everything, but even then there may be gaps or so many different opinions of one subject it maybe difficult to get a strong, direct answer.

Making Cultures

Culture and Society are interconnected where one cannot exist without the other. Through society similar people integrate together to form a group or ‘Culture’ usually defined by education and different lifestyles. Sometimes the relationship between signifier and signified is arbitrary. Culture is learned by the participants e.g. through education or way of life, programing people before they are aware of their own choices to conform to certain groups and ideas. I think this phenomenon cannot be escaped because that is how society works.

The idea of Culture is typically understood as the output of society, something that reflects and reinforces societies interests and values. This is why throughout the world there are so many different cultures because of the range of societies. Culture industries can be used to control and form society though entertainment and emotional response or as a distraction to what maybe happening in reality.

There are lots of different Cultures in societies, most of them defined by wealth, race and class. High Culture includes the higher class and the wealthier groups in society. Their money allows them to enter exclusive spaces, making them for example, the only 300 people in the world who buy ‘Haute Couture’ regularly. This is enough to keep the Couture business going, but less people want to spend £20,000 on a dress made to measure. This culture, like others, can change, an example of this is Couture dresses being less desired.

On the opposite end of the scale is Low Culture or Pop Culture, highly dominated by youth culture. This can be seen today in reality TV programmes and the rejection of the rich influencing the majority of society. Also the rejection of the old style of dressing with ‘Teddy Boys’ and Twiggy’s mini skirt in the 60’s enhanced the creation of the Youth Culture with a different way of dressing. New phases such as Selfies have had the ‘bubble up’ effect on society, originated in Youth and Pop culture now seen in High and Celebrity Culture. There are subcultures within this Low/Pop Culture though sharing music and different ways of sharing ideas though social networking such as Vloging. This gives everyone a chance to be a ‘Celebrity’.

Consumer Culture and Digital Culture point to how technologies and products can determine what Culture we belong to. People can identify themselves and each other though consumption of goods, for example the Apple Store creates and promotes desirable products that are pricey but ‘do everything’. Consider the iPhone 4 and how you can have it in any colour as long as it is black or white, this defines a Culture where everyone is potentially using the same device. Digital Culture has become apparent though the use of the internet and how we have a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips. These Cultures, however, are only apparent when people have access to these products or a computer.

Creativity in Industry

In this lecture we examined the subject of creativity in industry and how this could be beneficial to how people consider the creative arts. To gather enough information to be able to have a valid opinion on this subject we looked at how creativity and industry changed and came together through history.

Defining the notion of creativity is the first step to fully understanding the concept of how, when put together, it will benefit industry. Being creative isn’t narrowed down to whether you are good with a pencil or not, but through a different and initiative way of thinking. Having a creative mind opens up new opportunities and ideas on how a subject can be approached. It can reflect the environment around us, through Art or Fashion, but is can be put into a business side of industry and help the employees work in a different way to be more productive. Creativity comes from the individual giving that diversity of opinion and range of ideas. Collaborating this creativity with others can create an industry and a productive way of creating business and designing products.

The creative industry has no definition as it is universal and covers a wide range on sectors. Some ideas haven’t made it to mainstream industry e.g. men wearing skirts. This idea of men wearing skirts, similar to the kilt worn in Scotland, was considered too surreal for many people to accept. This shows that some creative thoughts and ideas get passed aside.

Historical changes

Creativity was never always apparent in culture and society. In the 18th century art starts to be different from everyday life, some pieces were deemed worth looking at and to have museums and galleries built for them. This was the start of creativity becoming acknowledged in everyday life.

The romanticism movement was known for its notion of originality and imagination. The artworks seen in this movement portrayed more of a strong concept moving ideas forward considering anyone can be creative.

Modernism was a contemporary, Avant guard way of thinking, giving meaning to artworks, allowing them to be experimental, radical and a form of risk taking. The social change in the urbanisation of society had a great influence on the creativity explored in this movement. Artists and designers had a great desire to change people’s lives for the better by, though design, improve and make functional new products.

Postmodernism was a movement against Modernism and collected a range of ideas and styles defining what was popular and what was elite. They wanted to find develop past ideas and creativity and make modern and contemporary. A contemporary example of this is Dior’s 2011 advert for J’adore Dior perfume. It is seen celebrating the old and making it new by including past female icons seen in creative industry.