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The Feminine Aesthetic

Problematizing Beauty, Taste, and Pleasure Through Gender. WARNING: This presentation contains visual and audio representations that may not be suitable for young children. Please be advised

Tanya Long

on 15 August 2016

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Transcript of The Feminine Aesthetic

Roxanne Swentzell ~ Generation Tower
Nikki Hatchett ~ UK Graffiti Artist
Problematizing Beauty, Taste and Pleasure Through Gender
Tamara de Lempicka ~ The Slave
Artemisia Gentileschi ~ Judith Slaying Holofernes
Defining Aesthetics. . .
Kant and Hume were among the first of the 18th Century philosophers that posited that
good taste
was related to
aesthetic pleasure
. During this time in history - the time of the Enlightenment - artistic pursuits became synoymous with acts of leisure and were reserved for the rich and socially elite. This was a pivotal time in art history because of the heightened social awareness and attention paid to
sensory pleasure and desire
. Cartesian dualities were constantly at play - Science versus Philosophy, Truth versus Faith, Rich versus Poor. In the art world, the binary was articulated as that of
the Sublime
- or those things massive and inspiring, and that which represented masculine sensibilities - versus
the Beautiful
- or those things that were petite and fragile, representing the feminine.
As our world becomes smaller through the constant use of technology and the internet, new issues arise to remind us that the spaces might be new, but the discourse is an old one.
An Unfamiliar Aesthetic...
The Feminine Aesthetic
Artistic Genius: Women Need Not Apply Within. . .
Jenny Saville ~ Branded
The Evolution of the Odalisque: Beauty Defined. . .
is a perfect example of how the images established as beautiful, tasteful and pleasing within the dominant societal structure created a
systematic representation
of the ultimate beauty - the vision of the fresh-faced, plump, anglo girl, sprawled out casually, lying naked on fine linens, awaiting the entrance of her master. This definition of beauty became the exemplar, reflected again and again in countless pieces of art. It could be said that this theme is still dictating what today's society considers aesthetically pleasing. Obviously, this is
problematic and exclusionary
of the many
of the world that reflect an appearance that
contradicts the vision
of the Odalisque. There have been a number of artists that have deconstructed this theme, and therefore, their work challenges society's definition of beauty and it's exclusion of divergent perspectives and artistic representations of what should be considered beautiful.

~Grande Odalisque~
The Sublime
Androgyny: Reclaiming the Representation of Beauty and Sex
Emerging Voices that Tell a Different Story. . .
Retelling the Story: Adopting the Feminine Aesthetic. . .
This presentation contains material that may not be suitable for young children.
~Please be advised ~
“All aesthetic judgment is really cultural evaluation.”
~ Susan Sontag:
Reborn: Journals and Notebooks
“Aesthetics have substantial political consequences. How one views oneself as beautiful or not beautiful or desirable or not desirable has deep consequences in terms of one’s feelings of self-worth and one’s capacity to be a political agent.”
~ Cornel West:
Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life
“It is clear to many of us by now that involvement with aesthetic questioning heightens awareness of what is demanded of us as listeners, as beholders.”
~Maxine Greene: Variations On a Blue Guitar
Lady in Blue with Guitar
The Man with the Blue Guitar
Guitar, Woman, Snake

is considered a branch of
that concerns itself with the
responses humans have to art and
. Through
with, and
of, these artifacts, a person defines for themselves, what is
. These artifacts can essentially be anything created and put out into the world for public view including memes, sculptures, newsprint, media, music, paintings, photographs, theatrical performances, fashion, novels and poems, just to name a few.
Putting the Feminist in Aesthetics. . .
~ we
the influence of the dominant gender by deconstructing historic and traditional representations

Feminist Aesthetics
centralizes the perspectives of women and how women relate to what is
. This philosophy is not concerned with a particular style of art, but rather, with the way women are
symbolically represented
throughout the world. It is also about evaluating things from a
different perspective
. By adopting a feminine aesthetic lens:
~ we
the notions of what society perceives to be aesthetically valuable

~ we are able to
how society determines what is beautiful, pleasing and tasteful


A Great Blog on the Concepts of the Sublime and Beautiful
The Beautiful
Toxic Mixture: Beauty, Pleasure and Good Taste. . .
Bibliography. . .
Georgia O'Keeffe ~ Black Iris
Maya Angelou ~ Phenomenal Woman
Louise Bourgeois ~ Maman: Jardin des Tuileries, Paris
Ebba Rapp ~ Blue Mood
Aleia Ramsey ~ "My Angry Vagina"
Sofonisba Anguissola ~ Lucia, Minerva and Europa Anguissola Playing Chess
Good taste and aesthetic pleasure were
filtered through
and defined from the masculine standpoint, and therefore, the
feminine notions
of beauty, taste and pleasure were once again,
. The 18th Century Enlightenment philosophers were not the first, nor the only ones, that marginalized the creative pursuits of women and, in essence, silenced the feminine voice. Throughout history, the label of
"artistic genius"
was reserved for men only. Becoming a genius was considered a highly individualistic pursuit. Within this system, men were celebrated and praised for their artistic creativity and contributions to society. Women's creative endeavors were relegated to art that was made in the home. Labeled
, these creative pursuits were minimalized and considered useful inside the household only.
~Freda Kahloe~
~Aurora Reinhard~
~Lalla A. Essaydi~
The representation of the
conceptualized Self
is, in and of itself, a public
. Many artists have questioned the gender
perpetuated by society and also, what society considers to be beautiful, or at the very least,
aesthetically acceptable
. Throughout history, both women and men have challenged the accepted definition of beauty by
reclaiming their sex
for their own and by presenting an outwardly alternate aesthetic.
If we indeed perceive
beauty, taste and pleasure as interconnected
, then by redefining the classic and acceptable representations of sex, we problematize sex, sexuality and sexual pleasure, and we thereby deconstruct historically embedded beliefs. We
disrupt the binary
of male versus female or masculine versus feminine and accept a more
fluid notion of sex
. By doing so, we affirm our uniqueness as individuals and we redistribute the
of power.
During this time, some female artists
a more masculine aesthetic and
their story by reclaiming the dominant lens for their own. This
of the dominant voice helped to disrupt the notions of what was acceptable and what Kant and Hume referred to as having
"good taste"
“Why have there been no great women artists?”
~Linda Nochlin, 1988
Feminist Art Movement
of the 1960s and 70s took a major step towards the
of the feminine voice by lifting women artists out of the male dominated world of art and putting them into a
space all their own
. For the first time, the role of
"woman as artist"
was addressed and explored.
The performance by Yoko Ono at Carnegie Hall in 1965 called
Cut Piece
is widely considered the artistic work that ushered in this 2nd wave feminist, post-modern movement. This time in history is categorized by
of war, commentaries on the
treatment of women
, and the ongoing search for
and protection of
human rights
We still
idealize the vision of the Odalisque
as the superior example of the aesthetically acceptable standard of women's beauty. The conversation about those things that are considered tasteful and pleasing is still being
commandeered by the dominant voice
The feminine aesthetic lens does not exclude any artifact or representation from scrutiny. As 3rd world feminism evolves, artists are adopting strong political standpoints that allow us, as a global society, to confront problematic issues head on and within the public space.
Bovenschen, S., & Weckmueller, B. (1977). Is there a feminine aesthetic?
New German Critique, 10
, 111-137.

Ciochina, R. (2013). Advertising the body: Feminine and masculine beauty.
Annals of Spiru Haret University, Journalism Studies, 14
(2), 26-32.

de Beauvoir, S. (2009).
The second sex.
New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Greene, M. (1995).
Releasing the imagination: Essays on education, the arts, and social change. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Krishna, A., Elder, R. S., & Caldara, C. (2011). Erratum to “Feminine to smell but masculine to touch? multisensory congruence and its effect on the aesthetic experience”.
Journal of Consumer Psychology, 21

Mishali, Y. (2014). Feminine trouble: The removal of femininity from feminist/ lesbian/queer esthetics, imagery, and conceptualization.
Women's Studies International Forum, 44
, 55-68.

Nochlin, L. (1988).
Women, art, and power and other essays
. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Piirto, J. (1991). Why are there so few? (Creative women: visual artists, mathematicians, musicians).
Roeper Review, 13
, 142-148.

Rahman, K. A. 1. (2012).

In search of the face to launch a thousand ships: Changing tides in cultural images of beauty.
The International Journal of the Image, 2
(3), 153-166.
~ Louise Bourgeois ~
~ Yoko Ono ~
~ Louise Bourgeois ~
What Pleasures to Behold. . .
~ Anjolie Ela Menon ~
~ Mickalene Thomas~
~ Kathy Sosa ~
~ Frida Kahlo ~
~Salvador Dali~
~Marie Guilhelmine Benoist~
~Faith Ringgold~
~Virginia Patrone~
~Betye Saar~
~Dawn Okoro~
~Lois Mailou Jones~
~Kara Walker~
It is important to state that women, and in particular
women of color (all colors)
, were and still are,
in the artistic, literary and performing arts worlds (as well as in the scientific, mathematical, political...the list goes on). This
lack of representation
is particularly problematic as it speaks to deeper issues within our society.
3rd Wave Feminism: The Voice of All. . .
~ Natalie A‘i Kamau‘u ~
~ Billy Holiday ~
~Various Female Authors ~
Virginia Woolf ~ Orlando
~Martin Schoeller~
~Pablo Picasso~
All of these works were used to inform the creation of this prezi.
1. Choose an
from the prezi to respond to.

Post your
ideas and comments
on the blog site in Tracs. Think about some of the following things:

1. What is the artifact
2. How is it representing notions of
beauty, pleasure
and taste?
Why did you choose
this artifact over any other?

Feel free to
other people's posts and
to at least one other person's reflections.
Full transcript