Resisting/restaging/reclaiming the gaze


Week6 Transgender representation and the transgender look

In the lesson of today we have had a look on sexuality and how feminism includes transgender phenomena on it’s basic theory as both make a distinction between sex and gender (biology is not destiny, and one is not born a woman right?) explains Stryker. People should not be restricted by they sex and therefore their gender that ,matches with the sex, called “assigned gender”. The heternormativity is a social structure that privileges binary and fixed sex roles.

Cisgender, transgender,genderqueer,gender neutral pronouns> They, them, nir, sie, zie, zim.

Nowadays transgender figures and films and series: Orange is the new black, Caitlyin Jenner, The Danish Girl, Dallas buyers Club etc.

Readings of Susan Stryker , Transgender Feminism: queering the woman question gave me a deeper understanding of transgender, not a sexual orientation but a gender expression.Transgender feminism existed since first half of 19th century.Strykers asks questions such as “why if a working class woman surpasses a certain level of professional accomplishment is their femininity respectability called into question? Susan attributes it to a mechanism of control and social domination” they operate by attaching transgender stigma to various unruly bodies and subject positions, not just to”transgenderd” ones. They also talks, about how he is perceived as a woman , experiences misoginy but when perceived like a man experiences homophobia.

The other texts of Leslie Feinberg  Trans Liberation, beyond pink and blue is a more personal approach, that talks about the struggles the writer has been through as a transgender, medical dis-attention judgments prejudices. Zim talks about gender roles and fights back, “So the defence of each individual’s right to control their own body, and to explore the path of self expression, enhances your own freedom to discover more about yourself and your potentialities. This movement will give you more room to breath-to be yourself.To discover on a deeper level what it means to be your self.”

Them also talks about how complex the human anatomy can be and how since we are born we have to fit two categories  and the issues of people asking zim through those lenses that ignore the complexity of gender expression.

Also we had to complete a very interesting test with theory and lots of irony by Kate Bornstein (1998)


Week 5 Rivington Place

Maud Sulter and Mario Carvo Neto are the artists shown in Rivington Place. A place which I didn’t know before and specializes in contemporary visual arts and promotes and displays global diversity with a very interesting library specialized in feminism and racial issues.

Maud Sutler’s exhibition Syrcas consisted of photomontages and a poem created during early 1990s. The postcards, portraits of white people and Alpine landscapes, contrasted by  images of African culture such as sculptures , masks are placed in the middle of the collage, blending or maybe a better expression would be juxtaposing, two cultures, African and European into one collage , it did seem raw , maybe because of it’s reality and what she wanted to express, these were complemented with an additional poem Blood money (1994) which narrated a history of a black woman in Germany during the holocaust. The display gave to me a the work was close to a documentary,  where she showed those pieces as final outcomes and statements in a very subtle way mixing them with French titles for each of these, maybe as one of the imperial languages in Cameroon. The photomontages remembered the genocide of black people during Nazi period as well as the lack of their representation in the histories of art and photography. These themes had a personal/ political view as herself was a Scottish-Ghanaian descent.




The ethnographic and post/colonial gaze week 4

In the session of today we were covering Orientalist theory of Edward Said, the representations of the Oriental in Europe, the misconceptions and the harm that is lasting until these days. In the post colonialist era, there were created museums , studies in academy, economical and sociological theories, theoretical  illustration of biological sf anthropological terms, firstly with painting another way of showing the power but then later on in the century with photographic and recording techniques in order to disseminate the knowledge. Human zoos were introduced showing “exotic populations”.

“My whole point about this system [Orientalism] is not that it is a misrepresentation of some Oriental essence, in which I do not for a moment believe, but that it operates, as representations usually do, for a purpose, according to a tendency, in a specific historical, intellectual, and even economic setting.”

Orientalism is the european representation of Orient in terms of its decadency, exoticism and backwardness compared to Europe. The fascination of the harem supplied the sexual male fantasies that often expressed in paintings such as The Turkish Bath by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres 1862



Where do you think the colonial and ethnographic gaze still operate?
(We can think of the colonial gaze as one that makes ‘other’ or ‘exotic’ or ‘alien’ of its subject)

Try and think of examples? (advertising, fashion, media, film, music videos…)

I think the colonial gaze definitely operates  and examples of cultural appropriation in fashion for example, where a country with more power takes a symbolic element from another culture and misrepresents it in their own purpose. Other aspects as bleaching colour skin to white, some famous people as Beyonce, or having operations to enlarge eyes in some countries as Korea and China. Are these consequences of cultural imperialism?

Misrepresentations of latin people in videos uploaded to Facebook and gone viral, where they are represented with latin accent, and interests in food and kitchen and musical instruments such as maracas.

Or the simplest example, in airports can be found people traveling to Spain with Mexican hats.

Week 2 Universalism & Intersectionality and What’s in a Word (feminism)

In the second we have read Rosalind Gill’s Sexism Reloaded, or, it’s time to get Angry Again and touched the concept of Intersectionality, term first used by Kimberle Crenshaw, criticizing the mainstream of feminist theories that presume the white middle class women experiences are universal, explaining how gender inequality affects women differently depending on the race, sexual orientation, age, geographical location etc. Is the idea of shared sisterhood, englobing all feminists for the basis of political action possible?

Rosalind Gill speaks about introducing the term “sexism” again in sexism reloaded, after feminism politics almost fell into high theory with sophisticated language instead of putting it into practice through political, social action. The word sexism went old fashioned, as a too direct term. Assumptions in the post-feminist era of no need feminism back as, inequality was disappeared and equality achieved. This did nothing more than acquire a new form of sexism,  which lies on its unspeakability which Gill calls as unspeakable inequalities. Soft and indirect discourses, “profoundly classed, racialised and heteronormative assumptions” “appropriating the energy of feminism and selling it back to women emptied of political meaning” Gill (2011) explains, a blurry line created questioning what counts as sexism and how to identify it. “sexualization passed from objectification to “sexual subjectification”

“Rosalind Gill is a theorist and author of feminist works and she also critically analyzes the post-feminist perspective of the “modern day” feminist. Some of the key features of post-feminist theory include the transition from the objectification of women to the subjectification of their sexual selves, as well as the idea that femininity is a bodily property.  It is a concept that heavily focuses on individualism, choice and empowerment.”

“framed in advertising through a discourse of playfulness, freedom and, above all, choice. Women are presented as not seeking men’s approval but as pleasing themselves, ”

Although the sexualization operates in different ways for cultures races and classes it remains pretty much heteronormative, and is being judged for its explicitness in moral ways rather than politics .

Another interesting thing Gill writes about is the “Sexism and the Psychological “. At what point we can say we are choosing something , to touch the deepest sense of oneself until we feel X ideals of beauty are felt as ourself  as shaving legs,” all my friends shave them because they say thats what they really want, not because someone has told them to do so”sara Ahmed, Imogen Tyler speak about this too.



Rosalind Gill

Postfeminism- no need of feminism anymore, play with sexism, new ways of sexism, subtle in situations of everyday life work-home.

Bad conceptions of feminist activity in the 60’s

Feminist consciousness

Sara Ahmed

Social construction of gender. Biologic/social(male/female brain learned since childhood)


Salary gap/Pregnancy/racism/work/lack of recognition/gender stereotypes/abuse/sexual agressions(rape culture)/domestic violence/taxes on sanitary wear/contraception resonsabilities

Methods of research> Oral historyhistory told by citzens, ordinary people that lived a certain period of time to obtain a truthful and objective poibnt of view by interviewing lots of points of view , instead of the story being told by politics(interests).


The Male Gaze and The Universalist Vision: A critique of visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema by Lucy Xie is a critical exam on Murvey’s Visual pleasure and narrative cinema about her western , white heterosexual opinion universalizing it. Hearsay’s theory gender is mo longer above any other identity in the hierarchy of social location ‘feminist objectivity is about limited location and situated knowledge.


Barbara Kruger “Your gaze hits the side of my face”


Today we have seen kruger’s and sherman’s work in relation to the male gaze and patriarchy.


We have also explored different lenses through which you can read images. Gilian Rose-Visual methodologies.

We have read Laura Mulvey’s quotation on Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema discussing Narrative Hollywood film where the male takes the lead and looks at the positioned passive subject that is the female, part of the spectacle

active viewer-passive subject/ with a fight between correctness and the libido-sexual desire that we all have and can not be contained


sexual desire.
“loss of libido”
synonyms: sex drive, sexual appetite, sexual passion, sexual urge, sexual longing;More

    the energy of the sexual drive as a component of the life instinct.


objectification both female and male with examples of guys from Abercrombie and Fitch

First session feminist visions


LILY ALLEN HARD OUT HERE (youtube videoclip)

Analysis and discussion of lily allen video looking in relation to Nussbaum and Langton objectification list.

In my group several ideas have been discussed and noted about the intentions of the video.  In the superficial layer of the video we could see a heavy irony in a result of a parody criticising the social stigmas of women. A discussion went on if it was right to use the word “bitch” even if Lilly Allen was owning that word and giving it back as she does not care.  The word “bitch” is still a sexist insult which is used in many contexts and does not have the best connotations. So I feel misrepresented by her, even if she owns the word and calls herself a bitch within the things she does in the video, for me these actions are not understood as been done by a bitch as it is a wrong meaning given to it. Allen through linking the actions of the video and the word bitch, reaffirms that insult´s meaning and power fulfilling it graphically with the images shown: Doing this and this is being a bitch, so what?

Other concepts were spoken as the cultural appropriation of Hip-Hop by a white singer and the black dancers as sexualised identities which in the video  don´t have any voice and seem  to be used to enhance the white singer. That could be listed in the objectification list and fit into the category of instrumentality, although there is another line in where between the diegetic and extra diegetic space they are empowered by their own choice(in the script) of being exposed like that to the viewer. It could be also tought that the images from the videoclip reduce to the body parts of women such as bum or breasts.


Rosalind  Gill

Main points and summarises:

Sexism and post-feminism are the main points in the text sometimes blending one into each other.

Explains how the word sexism has stopped being used because of bad and old fashioned connotations,  rather than seeing it as a deep and wide concept that is in constant change, Gill defends how we have to reintegrate  that word into our language giving five arguments  and speaking about the new forms of sexism in the  of post-feminism era , criticising the post feminists as well as the new ways of sexism which are much more subtle, under the conception that the sexism has disappeared and equality achieved.

Extension essay draft

I have chosen the assignment of a costume piece of a film to extend my essay on. The film is  My fair Lady (1963) and I finished my last post asking a question whether the dress designed by Cecil Beaton objectifies her, giving an external image of her own that doesn’t correspond with her personality, or do those costumes empower her as a woman, giving more importance to who she is.

I found very difficult to find information about these themes, and after reading various books and articles, I asked myself a question on how does Cecil Beaton  supports better the idea of femininity and spectacularity of the edwardian period of time ‘Formation of male gaze theorised by Luce Irigaray and Laura Mulvey, element of spectacularity or ‘to be looked at new’ (Irigaray 1985,mulvey1989:19) constitution of the feminine self as desirable and desiring ,became the key feature of the new publicity focused female culture of the middle-late nineteenth century , albeit mediated and contitioned by prevailing notions of class, respectabiliyty and family.’

The designs of Eliza’s costumes relate directly to the period of time the film was written, Beaton therefore working on personal memories as feeling vey close to it. It was up to Beaton to make the viewer see that period of time in one or another way, the importance given to the gender and class roles and how they influence the dress code,the result might be the image that they wanted to transmit of a woman related to the period of time it was filmed too.(what did hollydwood want to see)

The costumes vary according to gender and class roles(both of them opposite worlds) but also support the evolution of Eliza, from being low working class then under power of professor Henri Higgins to be an independent woman and how the costumes in some occasions objectify her (when the Higgins has the power over her and she still is not a lady , people judge her by fashion and beauty) and how finally the costume empowers her(when she appears in the final scene being an independant woman).


My fair lady/costume piece from a film.

Cecil Beaton was the art director and fashion designer of the film My fair Lady (1964) a film based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. The story concerns Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who takes speech lessons from professor Henry Higgins, a phoneticist, so that she may pass as a lady.

The costumes designed for Eliza Doolittle follow her metamorphosis in the film, showing the evolution from low class to high class with all the elements that concerned in that period of time (second hand clothes used in the first scenes, with dark colours as symbol of poorness , the feathers in the hat when she tries to show high class appearing in Higgins’s house asking for lessons, until the moment she is an independent woman, dressed in a pink dress, harmonious, ethereal and delicate  contrasting with her past attitude and confronting Henry Higgins, demonstrating she is a person with feelings and point of view as well.

Cecil Beaton when designing the clothes (1956) did not have to do much research as he was born himself in 1904 in the middle of Edwardian time  and felt very close to that fashion, those costumes designed for the film were a result of personal knowledge based on childhood impressions, Spencer (1975) explains’ Mrs.Higgins was sent off to Ascot in the same dress his mother had once worn, and Eliza’s grander costumes were based on the clothes of such theatrical personalities as Gretie Millar, Lily Elsie and Gaby Deslys.’


But did those costumes empower her or make her being objectified by the first impression?