Discussion #3

Discussion #3


  1. One of the main premises in this episode is Berger’s distinction between nakedness and the nude female form as it is traditionally represented in Western art. What are the differences between these things and why are these differences significant? Do they apply to images you have encountered in your experience?

In most of the European oil paintings, women have been objectified for men’s pleasure. According to Berger, “Naked is to be oneself and to be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognized for oneself”. Naked is a state of a woman where she is without her clothes and she is being herself. She is not expecting any spectators whereas a nude female form as traditionally represented in Western art is a form of art where a woman is objectified and she is expected to have an audience. She has to be seen in way where she can inherit pleasure in her male viewers. These differences are significant because in nude forms, their facial expressions are designed specifically to lure her spectators. They are always seen looking at the artist. In my opinion, nakedness is more intimate than nudity. I have come across nude statues of Hindu gods and goddesses. The goddesses pose the same relation as to the women in traditional western art. Their eyes reveal what they are trying to say. Berger states, “They are not naked as they are, but they are naked as you see them”

  1. According to Berger, how have Western works of art depicted and defined different roles for men and women? According to Berger, what is the significance of this? Do these depictions influence the ways we think of the differences between men’s and women’s roles in society today?

The role of Adam and Eve have influenced the tradition of women playing the passive and submissive role. It has been shown much in the European oil paintings. The God granting men the agent of God has given him the role of spectator in those paintings where women were subjected to nudity to fulfill the appetite of men. Their sexual passion and energy were minimized to show the men’s dominance over women. The ideas behind these painting depict a male dominated society. The conventions built from this culture has laid the foundation for gender discrimination. We can see an existing patriarchal society where women are marginalized despite their potential. The traditional western art of female nude form clearly reveals the misogynistic attitude of men still prevailing in present times.

  1. How does Berger describe the significance of the mirror in paintings depicting women? What does this object say about the ways beauty is defined in these paintings? What does Berger say about the depiction of the female gaze in the paintings he discusses? What kinds of more contemporary examples does he relate this to, and what significance does he draw from these connections between older European art and depictions of women today?

Since there is always an awareness in a nude female form, Berger mentions “Susana painting” where she sees herself in mirror first to see how she will be judged by men and how she should submit to their demands. The mirror is significant in way how the painter calls the painting a vanity at the end. It was said that she used the mirror to please the men. However, at the end calling the painting a vanity was an insult. She did not use the mirror to please herself, the painter enjoyed painting a nude woman and later he blames it on her that it was for her benefit. The female gaze depicting in many of the early paintings hides the feelings of women, lacks dynamism and freedom. Their expressions are nuanced in way it becomes appealing to the male audiences, but those are not happy eyes, rather an eye that shows awareness of people seeing her naked. There is a resemblance in expression of the females in traditional western art and contemporary nude photographs. Both of them are looking to charm their male audience. Today’s women subject themselves not as an object of submission, but a self-promotion, to draw admiration and popularity for themselves. However, the women in traditional art were a mere object to please men.


2 thoughts on “Discussion #3

  1. Chang Liu

    I totally agree the point you mentioned in paragraph 3 that “The female gaze depicting in many of the early paintings hides the feelings of women, lacks dynamism and freedom. “It’s a very good summary.

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