Beauty and Mulvey

The Jezebel article, “On Men, Women, and the Conversation About Beauty,” reminded me quite a bit of Mulvey. The article argues that we limit discussions of beauty to women’s beauty as seen by men. First, it describes how we talk about beauty in one way.

I read or hear about beauty and women about every single day. Partly, I’m in it, so to speak — the rabbit hole of things women think and talk about. But also it just comes up a lot in the background of conversations about being alive. And it’s always pretty much in the exact same way: Women are supposed to be beautiful. It is sad when they are not. It is good when they are. It can also be sad/hard for them. But don’t forget how sad/hard it is for men, who are quite helpless in its presence. And so on.

It then refutes this discourse by making arguments such as beauty does not belong to one gender, and everyone sees and appreciates beauty, not just men.

This discourse on beauty that the author describes fits in well with Mulvey’s discussion of beauty–especially the part when the article talks about how beauty is “sad/hard” for men because they are “helpless in its presence,” which parallels Mulvey’s discussion of the castration complex. However, I really appreciated how this article urges us to round out how we discuss beauty. Maybe I misinterpreted Mulvey, but I felt her argument almost presented beauty as something that only women can have and only men can look at. While I agree that this is an important trend to analyze, I also think it’s important to try to focus on the other beauty and beauty viewers that we ignore. I very much appreciated how this article pushes back against the common discourse on beauty, to which Mulvey contributes.

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One thought on “Beauty and Mulvey

  1. I think it is important that beauty be defined in this context. Are we talking about the socially accepted version of beauty or beauty on an individual level. If we are talking about beauty on a social standard then, I do not think men are the only people receptive of the beauty of women. I agree with your statement that people other than men appreciate beauty. As Prof Parham mentioned in class, women asses other women much more than men do. But this is where the definition of beauty needs to be clear. Though women asses other women more than men, they asses them on the basis of what is culturally attractive rather than what is plainly beautiful. Beauty should not be a cultural construct in my opinion. I think opening a dialogue on beauty can be extremely beneficial for many people but I think it can be problematic if the focus is on the socially constructed beauty because that kind of beauty is purposefully made unattainable.

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