White Shirt Monday: Think Pink

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[#OryProblems: It’s not a problem if there is no Ory.
– The state of things as the universe intended them to be: with a soprano and a mezzo and nothing in between, exemplified by Diana Damrau (Countess Adèle) and Joyce DiDonato (Isolier) in Rossini’s “Le Comte Ory”, New York/MET 2011]

I love the White Shirt crowd for various reasons. You are enthusiastic, yet respectful. You are very resourceful. You are also a very thoughtful and articulate crowd. 

As already stated in the comments, leave it to the White Shirts to meet up for an evening of Rossini fun in pink and end up in a  serious discussion on sexism and rape culture, all brought on by a threesome musically beguiling, but scenically feeding into old sexist tropes for laughs.

Who is staged as entering into this threesome on their own accord, and who seems coerced? Whose focus is on stage partner(s), how does the interaction with the cameras work? Is this staging, it’s filming, or this work designed for a male gaze, and could the casual sexism – both of the libretto and of the staging – be counteracted?  How can one defend oneself against objectification? (which brings it back to last week’s speech by Michelle Obama, who addressed this specific violation of borders that shifts the power of definition to the objectifying perpetrator)

The day after our liveblog – yesterday – I took  my kids to the zoo, and as we were waiting for the the metro on our way home, I purposefully walked past the free seats opposite one large billboard that featured women in underwear (an ad campaign to sell underwear to women). The women in the ad looked like dead mannequins: objects to be used. I  did not want to have my kids wait next to that.
The only other free seats (and the kids were tired) were next to a second billboard of – you may guess – a woman in underwear with tousled hair and a sexualized come-hither stare and pose, likewise staged as an object (it was, once more, a campaign aimed at women, this time for hosiery). And one of my kids – barely three yet – looked at that poster, then looked at me, and asked, “Ma, is that girl looking at me?”

And  how do you explain to a three-year-old that that the photo feels so odd because the woman in it is not looking as much as staged to be looked at, in a manner that is not an exchange, filled with respect or gratitude or mindful joy at beauty shared, but a one-sided use?

I do not want to have to explain that to a three-year-old.

I do not want little girls to see poster ads like this one and get used to being treated as objects. I do not want little boys to see them and get used to looking at girls like objects.

I am just so sick of casual sexism and of downplaying its effects on all of us.

 

5 thoughts on “White Shirt Monday: Think Pink”

    1. Sometimes, it’s all that I have left as an option, or it feels like it, even though I would like to do something more proactive and sustainable.

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  1. “Besser Fehler zu billigen als Fehler zu rechtfertigen” — an obscure text, but pointing to the strength that comes with knowing, and sharing the knowledge, that something is wrong, even when one feels otherwise helpless to change it. To name it, to describe it, to analyze it and write about it, are sources of strength; these show that anger and pain are reasonable; these remain clear when feelings are an effort to sustain. And these are a way toward change.
    You praise and thank your community, which you built by sharing truth, for the strength you give each other. Fifty years ago we called it consciousness-raising, and it changed the laws; fifty years earlier, it gained the vote. It should not be necessary to keep repeating the truth, but at least there is evidence that it works. And much of the time, it leads one into better company, as you say.

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    1. with that prospect, let’s see what laws – or wht cultural perception – we may end up changing! (and be it a mere droplet on a stone too hot: the company does make it bearable indeed)

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