Feminism has long been erroneously (in my mind, at least) aided by naturalistic arguments which denigrate the cosmetic enhancement of her beauty. Or maybe I’ve got this wrong. Let’s back up a bit. In the 60s and 70s the woman’s movement was pioneered by liberal feminists (the more conservative amongst feminists at the time) as well as socialist feminists (Marxist) and radical feminists. At the time these movements addressed the “objectification of women” as sex objects portrayed and reinforced in the cosmetic or beauty industry. Though, of course, given the distinctive ideological backdrop of each feminist camp, “objectification” was variously transcribed and assessed. For the radicals this was a deeply historical issue that had roots in the patriarchal hierarchy in which women were simply the chattel of men – You know the kind? Any intervention that somehow alters – well for the better – her so-called natural look is an appalling subjugation of women by men (I presume?). She shouldn’t have to shave her legs and underarms, wear make-up, dye her hair or cream and perfume her body! A 14-year old girl recently yelling at her mother as if charged with the mission to emancipate her only 40 years too late, seemed to be doing her cardinal best at being the absolute worse possible image of herself. Hair unkempt – bordering on unhygienic – oversized clothing resembling something from my grandfather’s closet, and a walk reminiscent of my brother’s, she seemed hell bent on disclaiming anything remotely female about her.
How is this remotely feminist? I mean I just don’t see anything female about this stance? How is denying one’s female-side (and there surely is one, however, this may be negotiated in and for the backdrop of meaning) less sexist than affirming one’s female side? You may want to offer an historical, causal or naturalistic argument but at the end of the day there is no mirage of unadulterated significance for men and women alike.
The worry over objectification is over-stated and has come to seriously compromise any hopes for lasting, passionate, albeit sometimes frustrating relationships. I think this Sartre got right – all inter-human relations, especially the romantic kind, are inherently frustrating – and there we part ways. But so are they narcissistic. We do not live in a vacuum, and part of the most invigorating and deeply rooted relationship is “the look” of the other that captivates. For as we peer into his eyes we see the most accomplished, wondrous, uniquely beautiful versions of ourselves. And it is love at first sight. 🙂 Relationships wane as this fades; we we see the disappointment, utter fatigue in the eyes of the other as we struggle to keep up, and restlessly regain our throne. The healthiest of these is reciprocal and balanced thereby – we love in the other what we see of ourselves and see in him also what is projected back onto him.
Still more to come…comments and suggestions still…always welcome!!!