Patriarchal Manipulation of Women’s Bodies Around the World

Patrick G. Landes

So I’m beginning to see a trend here. The culturally normal clothes that women wear, shape of their bodies, and their economic and social activities vastly put them in a position to be to be taken advantage of by men. These norms, of course, are created to place men in a position to manipulate women and dominate society based on gender and sex lines. It is true that men have made binds on themselves which value both a wealthy and muscular appearance and an aggressive personality, and breeches in this image have severe consequences, but men as a whole have not been put at a global socioeconomic disadvantage as women have. It kind of annoyed me that Naryan went such a roundabout way to illustrate this while Brumburg and Jackson went right to the punch. I also very much appreciated Stabile and Kumar’s analysis of journalism and how it casts an evil image of how foreign people treat women while we have significant gender oppression in the United States as well.

Since we’re focusing on how images of femininity are created by men and the negative impacts it has on women I’d like to bring some attention an extremes of the spectrum:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/03/02/introducing-breatharianism-the-dumbest-diet-of-all-time.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoKwbbnlxi0

If you have ~30 minutes of extra procrastination time, I would encourage you to read this short article and watch at least some of this 20 minute movie and then think about what sort of psychic manipulation one would have to go through to contort oneself like this woman has in order to become a feminine ideal. But maybe I misspoke earlier when I said that this was an extreme example–women who contort themselves to fit western ideals of feminine beauty are common, particularly at Conn. There’s little to no acceptance of the “freshman 15” here for women at Conn. There is an epidemic of body shaming here just as there is in Saudi Arabia or areas dominated by the Taliban–only the men in these areas have gone a step further by fully taking women out of all public and economic spheres, rather than putting them at a vast disadvantage as we have done here.

I’d like to now turn to the Oscars now because it just happened yesterday. I didn’t watch it (although I did catch a few clips) because I generally don’t like to see the very images of what patriarchy says we should be parading around and being praised. Hero worship and body shaming everywhere. I think it’s great that Lupita Nyong’o won for her role in 12 Years a Slave, however she doesn’t really break the ultra-skinny feminine image that makes her “beautiful” in the eyes of old white men. It is, at most, a small dent in the immense steel wall of white male hegemony. I could go on about different celebrities, but I think I’ve made my point. Hollywood does not ever portray real life because they have to make things beautiful–people pay to see beautiful people on screen. I’ve not actually seen 12 Years a Slave, but I can assure you that she was picked because of her beauty that matched white standards.

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3 thoughts on “Patriarchal Manipulation of Women’s Bodies Around the World

  1. Olivia Rabbitt

    Patrick, I watched the video on Space Barbie and I’m really not sure what to think of her. While she has drastically altered her physical appearance to the ultimate “refined feminine,” she has also not allowed herself to become a passive vehicle. Unlike the brainless barbies we see inundating the media, Space Barbie seems to be spoofing our global society by using her feminine form to convey her bizarre message. Not only does the media love to show images of her prancing around and batting her eyes, but they love to hate her ideas and even mock her for being “offended” when they insult her. As toxic of a role model as she is to young women, I don’t think she is much worse off than any body-imaged obsessed woman at Conn.

  2. Karen cardona
    Something that i have been analyzing lately is how much Beyonce gets idolized on the daily bases. She constantly argues that women and girls should accept and embrace their appearance, this however is not a positive idea when over the years her skin seems to get lighter and her hair continues to get blonder. So what is the over all message that artist and public figures such as Beyonce convey or represent? that the only way to fit in and embrace your body is is you transform yourself into the stereotypical European standards of beauty. yet people continue to praise her ideas of being “flawless”….

  3. Brittany Juliano

    I am so glad you mentioned the Oscars! I did not get to watch them either, but I did watch some recaps on the news today that were a little strange. I was pleased to see such high praise and success for “Twelve Years a Slave,” but the comments about Lupita Nyong’o were a little disturbing. As you said, she embodies fairly well the idyllic American body type, and yet I heard her described on the news as “not the woman you typically see nowadays…she has a fuller, curvier figure. She is not such a stick straight model.” The male journalist talking about her image as a good thing, that she presents a much better model. And yet….I do not think that this is right. She is not particularly different from the “ultra-skinny feminine image,” as Patrick pointed out.

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