Designing Women (and Men, and Everyone in Between) Why Studying Gender Matters What is Gender? • 1950s: biological attributes, sexual characteristics and social roles that characterize a person as male or female. • 1960s: social movements begin to locate identity in systems of power; feminism centers ideas of oppression in sex itself • “Women’s studies” and its various permutations give way to gender studies, recognizing role of the social, performance and art itself in producing gendered bodies. Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1948) • • • • • Men are human, women are “not men;” they represent sex itself. Women have no common past or history, and thus no identity: it becomes the task of feminism to imagine all of these things. Men argue that women’s subordination is natural: but isn’t the status of this truth a selfjustifying one? Relativism. Men and women are united in their mutual and unequal dependence: “To decline to be the Other, to refuse to be a party to the deal – this would be for women to renounce all the advantages conferred upon them by their alliance with the superior caste.” Men profit from inequality, and from controlling the terms of inequality Does visual art have a gender? Women artists Male artist Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” (1975), film and media studies, Birkbeck College, University of London • • • • • • • Psychoanalysis as a critical tool. Scopophiia as a source of erotic pleasure that is structured by gender. Phallocentric society scripts women as the passive, gazed-upon figure; men as active lookers. Because of how cinema is structured, the viewer always looks from a male perspective In modern film, there is a division of labor in which men act and women inspire action. Cinema structures the way women can be looked at. Three different ways of looking: the camera, the audience, and the way the characters look at each other within the frame. Women’s images have been “stolen” by traditional film, and only by destroying traditional conventions can women regain filmic agency. Janet Leigh as Marion Crane in “Psycho” (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960 • • • • • • A woman Naked Terror What is she looking at? Where is she looking? Her open mouth Christian Dior’s “New Look” Vogue, March 15 1947 Case Study: Judy Chicago • • • • • • • • • B. Judith Sylvia Cohen, 1939 Rejected from Chicago Art Institute in 1956; attends UCLA 1970: begins teaching “feminist art” at Fresno State, changes her name to Judy Chicago 1971: goes to Cal Arts, establishes Feminist Art Program. With Miriam Schapiro, launches Womanhouse as a women’s living and studio space. January 1972: Womanhouse opens to the public 1974-1979: Creation of The Dinner Party; tours 1979-1981 Empowering: makes feminism popular Essentialist view of art that doesn’t take on questions of power The Dinner Party: Eleanor of Aquitaine The Dinner Party: Emily Dickinson Judith Butler: Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990) • Sex is not prior to or independent of gender: sex and gender depend on each other. • No gender can exist without cultural acts that make it visible • Gender is unstable and performed • Bodies have no identity without the scripts, rehearsals, performances and acts of interpretation that confer it. Why does gender matter to you, and what you study? • Because space is gendered and gendering Why does gender matter to you, and what you study? • Because everyone is understood through gender and the relationships of power gender signifies – and it’s complicated! Why does gender matter to you, and what you study? • Because gender is a way to understand who and what is being looked at – and who is doing the looking. What can you do about it? There is a Gender Studies Course Book • • • • • Foundations of Gender Studies Performativity and Powerlessness History of American Advertising Design/History/Revolution And many courses taught in Parsons as well that are listed here!