Archive for May, 2013


The Original: Females

Does the book contain one or more female characters? Yes

Do these characters have names? Yes: Sarah, Ernestina, Aunt Tranter, Mrs. Poultney, Mrs. Talbot, Mrs. Fairley, Milly, Mary

Do these characters talk to one another? Yes

Do they discuss something other than men? Yes. Mrs. Fairley and Mrs. Poulteney talk about Sarah. The one time that conversation is witnessed by the reader, however, they discuss Sarah walking through what serves in the story as the red light district. Therefore, while the conversation is not about men, it does indirectly pertain to men.

Other-The fascinating thing about a Victorian novel being written in the late sixties is the perspective and self-awareness The French Lieutenant’s Woman has. While the 60’s were not as advanced when it comes to feminism as we are, today, the author is surprisingly advanced for his time: “What are we faced with in the nineteenth century? An age where woman was sacred; and where you could buy a thirteen-year-old girl for a few pounds–a few shillings, if you wanted her for only an hour or two. Where more churches were built than in the whole previous history of the county; and where one in sixty houses in London was a brothel…Where the sanctity or marriage (and chastity before marriage) was proclaimed from every pulpit, in every newspaper editorial and public utterance; and where never–or hardly ever–have so many great public figures, from the future king down, led scandalous private lives…Where the female body had never been so hidden from view; and where every sculptor was judged by his ability to carve naked women…Where it was universally maintained that women do not have orgasms; and yet every prostitute was taught to simulate them. Where there was enormous progress and liberation in every other field of human activity; and nothing but tyranny in the most personal and fundamental” (p266-267).

Racism:

Does the book contain one or more characters of a minority race? No

Other: “My dear Charles, if you play the Muslim in a world of Puritans, you can expect no other treatment,” the doctor tells the main character. While there are no minority characters in Victorian England, this statement does imply that there is awareness of other races, at least in the more educated population of the country.

Heterosexism:

Does the book contain one or more gay characters? It is unclear, though the book does make mention of the question, during a scene in which the main heroine is seen in bed with another woman: “But some vices were then so unnatural that they did not exist. I doubt if Mrs. Poulteney had ever heard of the word “lesbian”; and if she had, it would have commenced with a capital , and referred to an island in Greece . . . But what of Sarah’s motives? As regards lesbianism, she was as ignorant as her mistress” (p. 157-158). Is Sarah a lesbian? Maybe.

Classism:

Does the book contain one or more lower-class characters? Yes. There is a significant amount of time spent on the romantic subplot between two lower class characters.

Do these characters have names? Millie, Mary, Sam…

Do these characters talk to one another? Yes, frequently.

Do they discuss something other than the upper class? Sam and Mary discuss their love, marriage, as well as make some small talk. The conversation that the reader is privy to does tend to revolve around the larger plot, Charles and Sarah, so the instances of Mary and Sam talking, unrelated to their employers are few, but existent, none the less.

Other– The narrator, in his more “enlightened” viewpoint, seems to have interesting opinions about the Victorian class structure. Mr. Freeman, one of the only financially successful characters in the novel offers Charles, his future son-in-law at the time, his business. This immediately pits Charles in a quandary. Though he has no money, it’s so plebeian to work for money. Gentlemen simply don’t do that. The most respectable character in the novel, Dr. Grogan, is both learned, middle class, and self-employed in the business of helping others.

Also important to mention is the distinction and time the author spends on Sam’s position: “Of course, to us any Cockney servant called Sam evokes immediately the immortal Weller; and it was certainly from that background that this Sam had emerged…But the difference between Sam Weller and Sam Farrow (that is, between 1836 and 1867) was this: the first was happy with his role, the second suffered it. Weller would have answered the bag of soot, and with a verbal vengeance. Sam had stiffened, ‘rose his hibrows’ and turned his back.” This paves the way for much more characterization and time spent on/with Sam, but it only ends up being foreshadowing.

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obiwannabe:

thescreendoorslams:

Okay, since I’m STILL hearing people on the internet griping about the first Girl With The Dragon Tattoo poster, I felt the need to go on a little rant here. Bear with me.

Look at the image on the left. Now look at the image on the right. One of these images is of a “sexualized woman,” and the other is not. If you cannot tell the difference between a nude woman, and a sexualized woman, you are an idiot.

The fact that Rooney Mara is naked in the TGWTDT poster does not make her sexualized or objectified. David Fincher has not “missed the point,” he’s actually making a very insightful observation into the way nude women are portrayed in advertising and in films. Lisbeth Salander may be nude in this poster, but she’s miles away from the expected depiction of a naked woman. Rooney Mara said it perfectly herself:

There’s a certain way people are used to seeing nude women, and that’s in a submissive, coy pose, not looking at the camera. And in this poster, I’m looking dead into the camera with no expression on my face. I think it freaks a lot of people out.

The image of Katy Perry is clearly what Rooney is talking about here (I don’t have anything visceral against Katy Perry, I’m just using a picture of her to make a point). She looks sweet, coyly hiding herself from the camera, but still looking inviting and sexually available. Rooney Mara is the exact opposite. She is bold and uninhibited in her nudity, and she looks right at the viewer with a piercing glare that conveys an unmistakable message: come near me, and you’re dead. This is hardly in keeping with the conventional images of naked women that we are used to seeing.

Nudity and sexualization are not the same thing. Try to actually understand an image and look closely at it in relation to societal conventions and expectations before you make a judgement.

Reblogging, because I want to discuss this with Vicious.

There are a number of issues in this argument all being snowballed into sexualization: objectification, female nudity, society’s perception of female nudity, female nudity in pop culture, and David Fincher’s intentions behind the GWTDT poster.

There is a difference between female nudity and female sexualization and certainly a difference between female nudity and objectification, but when seen through the lens of pop culture and American society, those lines begin to blur.

(Note: I realize that because I can see Mara’s nipples that this is the European version of the poster, not the American. However as both myself and the author of the rant are living in America, I think we can safely take an American point of view on these posts.)

In the initial rant, Mara is not sexualized because she is not looking submissive, coy, sweet, or sexually available. Moreover, she is looking straight at the camera with an expressionless face.

The fact that in the image Mara is being held from behind by a clothed man in the darkness (as the heavy shadows show) with nipple piercings does not play a roll in the argument.

(Note: It is a topic of debate online whether or not novel Lisbeth has her nipples pierced. If anyone finds me a passage stating that she does, please let me know.)

Of the following images of blank faced nude models looking directly at the camera, please tell me which are sexualized and which are not.

All images via Ms Pussy Le Queer

Victoria’s Secret is huge into non-coy looking models. To argue that they are not sexualized is defeating a major point of the product they’re selling.

One can attempt to make that argument that Fincher is attempting to critique the way society views women and the way women have been portrayed over the past 120 years in the media, (with a focus on coy sexualization) but why would he choose to make this grand statement using the medium that he’s apparently contradicting?

More than likely, the graphic design team chose the photo and made the design of the poster. Yes, Fincher approved the design, but his producer or production team was there to remind him about the bottom line and MGM’s expectations. Mara’s role in this movie poster probably became about what most female sexualization in movies comes down to–selling tickets.