In this short film, Sex and the City star, Cynthia Nixon, narrates a powerful essay written by Camille Rainville (2017) that makes visible the many contradictory rules that women are expected to adhere to. The imagery throughout the video would keep me busy for days if I were using it to create some movement material. An excerpt of the text I find resonates with my current thread of research into the situational aspect of high heels is:

“Look sexy. Look hot. Don’t be so provocative. You’re asking for it. Wear black. Wear heels. You’re too dressed up. You’re too dressed down. You look like you’ve let yourself go.”

If you haven’t watched this video, PRESS PLAY?

Be a Lady They Said from Paul McLean on Vimeo.

Another Watch
Athough many women claim empowerment through activities that clearly link to sexually objectifiying behaviour (dressing in a certain way, sex work, erotic dancing etc), Heldman (2013) states there is no “empowering” element of (self) sexual objectification due to the subject / object dichotomy where subjects act and objects are acted upon. Her examples, like many other scholars in this field, draw examples of objectification culture from media and advertisement, highlighting how women are ordered by their appearance above their subjectivity. In turn, as consumers who simply view these women, we begin to assess ourselves by our appearance, internalising a gaze that creates patterns of habitual body monitoring.

Later in the presentation, Heldman (ibid) offers women the tools to identify, reject and to navigate objectification culture. For instance, instead of viewing one viewing their body as a tool that must constantly be improved, a suggestion is that women can use their body to get from A to B in the world, see what it can do, see how the body can be challenged to master the environment in which we live. The problem with her suggestions, however, is that to use your body to get from A to B and to master an environment, you are still required to objectify your body and objectification alone, without the sex part, still carries the same detrimental effects. – My immediate thought is to create an argument that one can exist simulteously as both subject and object. I have proven, funnily enough, through the use of my body in numerous previous practice-led research projects. It is on my to do list to clarify this further…

Something I have Read
“Breaking the fourth wall” is a theatrical device that reminds performers, particularly actors (as this idea was drawn from theatre) of audience presence and visibility. When the forth wall is broken, or that line between audience and performer has been removed, the audience exist in the space with the performer. The audience become ‘alienated’, awake and alert, instead of resting in a cathartic state when they have the safety of being unseen in their theatre seats. In terms of objectifying the body of the performer through voyeuristic gaze, the gaze has been blunted because they are now part of the piece. To expand on audience involvement in the work, Sklar (1994) discusses kinesthetic empathy in performance and how audiences experience the work both visually and emotionally. When we watch performance we make believe with our own bodies, or imagine ourself in the body of the person we are observing. To analyse the qualitatitive movement of somebody else, time, space and shape of movement must be considered. This gives the reader a felt dimension, instead of just an objective and observed stance.

I have been on training this week with the Brilliant Club, learning new pedagogical techniques and course content that I will be delivering across schools near Liverpool in coming months.

Rowena x

I will be back with more notes next week, but in the meantime, you can see my daily updates by following me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook

TEDxYouth (2013) The Sexy Lie: Caroline Heldman at TEDxYouth@SanDiego [online]
Sklar, D. (1994) Can Bodylore Be Brought to Its Senses?