Distinguished sociologist Erving Goffman noted that women in photographs are often portrayed in compromising or submissive situations such as having the head turned upwards to expose the neck or in a contorted stances often with light self-touching. Such poses invite the gaze of the viewer and make the subject of the photograph seem vulnerable and exposed to sexualization.
as highlighted by the image, Erving Goffman made it known that these poses were problematic because if we saw any reversal of the gender roles, we perceive it as weird or strange. this image shows a man posing in a feminine fashion… men are very rarely posing like this in professional photography.
essentially, if our instincts tell us something is strange about a person in a photograph, it is representative of the demand of gender display in advertisements.
This kind of thing is super interesting to me. Other ways women are photographed but men rarely are include;
Standing on one leg/legs crossed and weight all on one leg/leaning on someone or something - The woman is vulnerable and incapable. She literally can’t stand (exist) alone.
With their head cropped out of the image or with their eyes down - This goes back to Madonna and Child and is totally entwined with the whole subject/object problem. The (male) viewer is the active subject, the woman is the passive object. You’re allowed to look because she sure as hell isn’t going to do anything, her body exists for you. (Hello rape culture.)
Not dressed - This isn’t such a big deal if the woman is photographed alone but often photos will depict naked women and fully dressed men, often in suits. The implications of this are pretty obvious.
Cut/Bruised - Vulnerability again. To be honest I’ve seen these kinds of images more on tumblr than I have anywhere else, they don’t seem to have made it into mainstream photography quite as much. But Tumblr is super fond of headless semi-dressed women with grazed knees. I guess in some way you could agrue that these photos show the strength of women, but I personally don’t buy that. For the same reason I don’t like this theme used domestic violence ads, I think it only serves to re-victimise the women.
Obviously there are also some really great photographs of women that don’t do any of these things, and some photographs that use these themes for legitimate reasons.
Always reblog, because this is so damn provoking.
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