[iDC] Reading Women/Writing Women/Being Women

Ana Valdes agora158 at gmail.com
Wed Jul 12 17:58:50 EDT 2006

It's really interesting to discuss how and why are women represented
in Art and in life, in "bare life", quoting Documentas discussion. For
some years ago I attended a conference hosted by the  Institute of
Gender Research in Leeds, headed by Griselda Pollock. Griselda is one
of the pioneers of the work of "recuperation" of the historical female
painters, from Artemisia Gentileschi till Unica Zurn, Leonora
Carrington, Remedios Varo.
The conference had as subject the work of the Belgian psychoanalytical
and philosopher Luce Irigaray. Irigaray, now in her mid-70, was at the
conference and discussed with the audience, most composed by students
and scholars working with Irigarays writings, hr own work.
She belonged to the circle around Lacan but was expelled, almost "sent
in exile" when she wrote two major books, "An Ethic of Sexual
Difference" and "Speculum of the Other Woman".
In those books she criticised  the whole corpus of the Western
Philosophy, where the woman is not a "subject".
I think when we deal with representations we are dealing with our dark
and old archetypes, a kind of "social meme" eternalizing in society
the conceptions of the women work and the female intellectual
production as "less worth".
I have been a hard core online gamer under many years and was always
appaled by the lack of phantasy the female avatars were showed, big
breasts à la Lara Croft, less strenght than the male avatars, less
The representation in cyberspace of an androgyn bigbusted woman body
is odd and must be related to the almost homogenous ethnic and gender
programmer profession.

On 7/12/06, Ana Valdes <agora158 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Michele! I look forward to continue in other forum the great
> multivoiced conversation we carry on Empyre!
> Ana
> On 7/12/06, Michele White <mwhite at michelewhite.org> wrote:
> > Hello all, this is my first post and my comments are
> > followed by a brief bio. I appreciate the varied
> > replies to the question on gender and list
> > participation. One of my concerns, and this has also
> > been expressed by other posters, is that we need to
> > fully acknowledge the structural forms of sexism that
> > may have caused women's silences both historically and
> > in new technology supported forums. The question can
> > also too easily end up being used as (and I know this
> > is not the intention) an accusatory demand that women
> > participate or that their lack of participation will
> > be taken as an indication of their disinterest and
> > dearth of expertise. What does it mean to be a woman
> > and write when this is raised or ignore it?
> >
> > I quite like Mira Schor's article on Patrilineage, in
> > which she suggests how the overwhelming references to
> > male theorists and authors in considerations of
> > contemporary practices, work to underscore the
> > importance and debt that everyone has to a series of
> > already canonized men. Do women's/feminists' (and
> > certainly these are not the same thing) works and
> > theories get highlighted in our considerations or are
> > lurkers supposed to adopt the previously sanctioned
> > texts in their contributions? Linda Nochlin's "Why Are
> > There No Great Women Artists?" indicated the
> > institutional systems that needed to be changed for
> > women to be able to equally engage. At that time, the
> > values in art and the systems by which artists were
> > produced excluded women. Is it possible that some of
> > these structures persist?
> >
> > There are significant ways that the "appropriate"
> > gender and race of computer and Internet users are
> > articulated (this is considered at length and with
> > images in my book The Body and the Screen: Theories of
> > Internet Spectatorship, MIT Press 2006). Many Internet
> > designers and programmers depict the body that they
> > expect to engage. For instance, the American
> > Association for the Advancement of Science's (AAAS)
> > report on the "Ethical and Legal Aspects of Human
> > Subjects in Cyberspace" uses an image of Leonardo da
> > Vinci's Vitruvian Man, which employs geometry to
> > indicate that all aspects of the body are rational and
> > knowable, and directly maps him onto the computer
> > screen (Frankel and Siang 1999, 2006). The AAAS image
> > supports the report's claim that there are subjects
> > "in" or within the Internet and suggests that the
> > gender of this subject is male. Gateway (2004), which
> > indicates that the Internet and computer are portals
> > for natural bodies through its company name, renders a
> > similar male control of the technology. It depicts a
> > young Caucasian male student standing in front of a
> > chalkboard, drawing a laptop, and about to materialize
> > his every technological desire. This boy's position is
> > like that of Harold creating his own world in Harold
> > and the Purple Crayon (Johnson 1955). The Lycos web
> > site seems to speak directly to the individual when it
> > offers to "Find more on the topics that matter to you"
> > (2004). However, the individual depicted in the
> > accompanying image is a white man. This direct
> > address, which is also used in such television forms
> > as home shopping, news broadcasts, and talk shows,
> > appears to acknowledge personal interests and "you"
> > while allowing the media producer to render an even
> > more detailed version of the spectator's desires,
> > viewing behaviors, and buying habits. Despite these
> > personalization claims, "you" does not acknowledge
> > everyone.
> >
> > When images of women appear in these web-based
> > advertisements, they are often reclining, ignoring the
> > technology, engaged socially rather than in business
> > transactions, and available for the visual
> > contemplation of the spectator. Standing or squarely
> > sitting white male figures suggest authority,
> > coherence, control, and interest while reclining
> > females, who are often positioned at a diagonal,
> > provide a way for the viewer to look upon the women,
> > visually enter the picture plane, and suggest her
> > immobility, lassitude, laziness, and reduced control.
> > Representations of women act as site greeters while
> > men are depicted using and understanding the
> > technologies. Logitech tends to depict businessmen and
> > to associate women with cameras and script them as the
> > object of the gaze (2006). In one Logitech web site
> > image, a male businessman is contrasted with an
> > advertisement for webcams and video dating that
> > features a woman sitting near the computer, head
> > tipped to the side, and mouth open in laughter and
> > performing for the camera and prospective date rather
> > than working with mouse, keyboard, and screen.
> >
> > Depictions of eager white male heterosexual computer
> > users, which appear in Wired, other media sources, and
> > varied Internet forums, may not be surprising since
> > the web sites for computer graphics designers, gamers,
> > and programmers implicitly address these individuals
> > and often include renderings of sexualized female
> > bodies for their pleasure. Computer generated
> > depictions of nearly naked women with large breasts,
> > narrow waists, and puckered lips regularly appear on
> > web sites for computer graphics software and related
> > hardware and are handed out at trade fairs. For
> > instance, ATI Technologies (2004, 2006) presents a
> > computer rendering of "Ruby" looking provocatively
> > down and inviting the spectator to look at her. Ruby's
> > large breasts, narrow waist, and expanses of pale skin
> > are still partially mapped with the kind of grid that
> > was used to render her. Web sites, software boxes, and
> > other forms of advertising present fairies, swimming
> > mermaids, and other scantily clad fantastical female
> > figures as appropriate output. These renderings
> > indicate the kinds of images and spectatorial
> > positions that should be produced by Internet and
> > computer technologies and thereby keep other
> > spectators from being acknowledged and comfortably
> > engaging.
> >
> > Thanks!
> >
> > My belated bio: Michele White is an Assistant
> > Professor of new media studies in the Department of
> > Communication at Tulane University. Her book, The Body
> > and the Screen: Theories of Internet Spectatorship,
> > was published with MIT Press in 2006. In this text,
> > she poses hybrid critical models and suggests how
> > theories that engage with authorship, film, gender,
> > hypertext, net art, postcolonialism, queerness, and
> > race can provide ways to understand Internet sites and
> > be applied to future research. Her published articles
> > include: "Television and Internet Differences by
> > Design: Rendering Liveness, Presence, and Lived
> > Space," Convergence: The International Journal of
> > Research into New Media Technologies 12, 3 (2006);
> > "Where Do You Want to Sit Today? Computer Programmers'
> > Static Bodies and Disability," Information,
> > Communication and Society 9, 3 (2006); "My Queer eBay:
> > 'Gay Interest' Photographic Images and the Visual
> > Culture of Buying," in Everyday eBay: Culture,
> > Collecting, and Desire, eds. Ken Hillis, Michael
> > Petit, and Nathan Scott Epley. New York: Routledge
> > Press, 2006; and "The Aesthetic of Failure: Net Art
> > Gone Wrong," Angelaki: Journal of Theoretical
> > Humanities 7, 1 (2002). For more information:
> > http://www.michelwhite.org.
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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> --
> "When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth
> with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you
> will always long to return.
> — Leonardo da Vinci

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth
with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you
will always long to return.
— Leonardo da Vinci

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