Coward, R ., 'The Look' Pages 33-39
Quotes and notes:
-'Theres a preoccupation with the visual image - of self and others - and a concomitant anxiety about how these images measure up to a socially prescribed ideal.'
-'The dominance of the visual regime has been augmented by the media surrounding us.'
-'In this culture, 'the look' is largely controlled by men.'
-'The ability to scrutinise is premised on power. Indeed the look confers power, women's inability to return such a critical and aggressive look is a sign of subordination, of being the recipients of another's assessment.'
-'In society looking has become a crucial aspect of sexual relations, not because of any natural impulse, but because it is one if the ways in which domination and subordination are expressed.'
-'Clearly this comfort is connected with feeling secure or powerful.'
-'But this so-called aesthetic appreciation of women is nothing less than a decided preference for a 'distanced' view of the female body.'
-'Perhaps tis 'sex-at-a-distance' is the only complete secure relation which men can have with women. Perhaps other forms of contact are too unsettling.'
-'And Peeping Toms' can always stay in control.'
-'Distanced he may be, but secure he remains.'
-'Self image in this society is enmeshed with judgements about desirability.'
-'The image like a mirror reflects back to women their own fascination with their own image.'
-'Advertising in this society builds precisely on the creation of anxiety to the effect that, unless we measure up, we will not be loved.'
-'This is not only the strict grip of the cultural ideal; it is also the multiplication of of areas of the body accessible to marketing.'
- Everything for the male advantage, because they control it all
- Women on billboard have power
- Appearance is fundamental in sex relations,son concerned with appearance
- Images represent a constant domination of women, women start to feel like they have to look like that otherwise they'll be excluded, women start to behave like that, a self fulfilling prophecy
- System of images to make men feel better - more powerful
- Really worried that you don't measure up to these things - culture forces them into a position where they need to be more concerned
- Strict beauty regime to live up to this perception built in the media
This is an advert from a Calvin Klein Jeans campaign spring summer collection 2009. Shot by fashion photographer Steven Meisel, the advertisement, including billboard campaigns and a 30 second commercial caused controversy when first released, and was even banned in some parts of the world for its provocative and sexual content. The female model is displayed half naked surrounded by three male models, she is the centre of attention and is being dominated by the men around her, which are portrayed as commanding and domineering. This advertisement will attract the male eye, this advertisement and 'entertainment as we know it is crucially predicted on a masculine investigation of women, and a circulation of women's images for men.' (p33) These modern advertisements, especially within high end fashion labels such as Calvin Klein and D&G, represent a constant domination of women, 'in this society, looking has become a crucial aspect of sexual relations, not because of any natural impulse, but because it is one of the ways in which domination and subordination are expressed'.
Images like these are not used for the natural appreciation of 'objective beauty,' it is to do with the domination of women which makes men feel comfortable, 'clearly this comfort is connected with feeling secure or powerful.' (p34) These are systems of images to make men feel empowered, which they defend by referring to the objectivity of women being in terms of aesthetic appeal, however, 'this so called aesthetic appreciation of women is nothing less than a decided preference for a 'distanced' view of the female body.' By distancing themselves they are allowed to look freely, 'perhaps this sex-at-a-distance is the only complete secure relation which men can have with women. Perhaps other forms of contact are too unsettling.' (p34) This could be interpreted as the act of a 'peeping tom,' 'peeping toms always stay in control' (p34) the male is allowed freely to look at the female and still remains powerful and dominant, 'distanced he may be, but secure he remains.' (p35)
This advert somehow suggests if you buy/wear Calvin Klein Jeans women will be subjected to you, however as the woman is also sporting the brand of jeans it could mean other possible connotations for the female audience. Some women will see this attractive woman surrounded by conventionally attractive male models and feel the pressure to look and act in a certain way, imitating the women on the billboards, worried that they don't measure up to this image created by the media, culture forces them into a position where they need to be more concerned with appearance. Women want to appeal attractive, 'self image in this society is enmeshed with judgement about desirability.' (p36)