Ever notice how men are usually portrayed as dominant, and women as submissive?
My thoughts here are so ADD-ish, sorry! Too much coffee!
Mitsue’s post on Jay-Z got me thinking about Erving Goffman‘s book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life in which he analyzes social interaction as a sort of theatrical performance. Mitsue mentions that Jay-Z presents himself in different ways according to different situations, and I think this is a great example of dramaturgy. Jay-Z puts on different “acts” and in turn, the people he interacts with treat him according to the role he is playing, as Letterman is doing in the interview. You know what’s weird about the interview though? The way Jay-Z presents himself is incongruous with his social status. In the Letterman interview, Jay-Z goes between acting like an up-and-coming artist and a schoolboy, not like the successful entrepreneur with a net worth of over half a billion dollars. Strange.
Anyway, thinking about dramaturgy made me look up Goffman’s other work Gender Advertisement which led me to the picture above. I’ve been thinking about gender performance a lot lately. As pretty much anyone who follows American pop culture knows, super high heels/stilettos are super hot right now, especially the red-soled Louboutins. Stiletto heels are painful to wear, not good for your feet nor your back, and they make walking difficult. Think about that. They make walking difficult! It compromises balance and stability. So the question I’m asking myself is why do so many women wear them? One reason is to look sexy, right? We are bombarded with images that tell us how femininity is supposed to be performed, and how to be desirable to the hetero-male gaze. Ok, so we’re told to wear heels if we want to be desirable, and if we were to take Althusser’s view of ideology, this media bombardment of gender stuff would be under the charge of the Ideological State Apparatus. Here’s the crazy part: many feminists (myself included) see through the bullshit, yet it’s so hard to reject it. Why? I think desire has lot to do with it. Simply put, most people don’t want to be considered ugly and undesirable, so we continue to do whatever it takes to not be that. They (those who seek power over us) hold that over our heads! So how exactly is gender performance (esp. “femininity”), power, and desire interrelated? Why is it so difficult to shake off the demands of the ISA- constructed and approved heterosexual male gaze? I’m still thinking it through. Need more coffee. Any thoughts?