{ how feminist are you – theory paper }

With regards to the Feminist in this case study, I believe Feminism is not outdated but rather lightened in nature to that of earlier years. It is to my understanding that Feminism still strongly exists, but is “covered” up by means of male ideologies and systems put in place. Through Femininity and Masculinity we can determine various characteristics; however in theory the Masculine and Feminine view are both seen through the male gaze.

In analyzing the Dolan text, the discussed streams of Feminism were those of

Feminism in the likes of politics; social and intellectual sense as well as Liberal Feminism, Material Feminism and the Queer Theory. “ American Feminism can be separated generally into liberal, cultural or radical and materialistic segments, each of which presents a different critical approach to the issue of execution from male discourse and the representations in which it is embodied.” (Dolan 1998: 3-4)

It was within this variety of Feminist streams that different concerning avenues were discussed and fought for within the act. Feminism in terms of politics; social and an intellectual sense were seen as fundamental factors contributing towards women’s rights. It was to their belief that women’s bodies should be treated with respect and it would be their decision as to what they felt would be done to their bodies.

They were also for the prohibition of violence against women and felt that they should have equal rights to men.

It was however the three streams of Feminism which Dolan felt the most important to focus on, “There are many gradations within and among these categories –

Some of which are Socialist Feminism; Spiritualist Feminism – But I find these three mist inclusive and most useful for clarifying the different feminist ways of seeing.”

(Dolan 1998: 3) These were that of the previously mentioned, Liberal Feminism; Material Feminism and the Queer Theory.

Liberal Feminism was similar to that of the Women Rights Movement in South Africa

In the 1930’s. It was an act which allowed women the right to equality: however it

Was prescribed to a male culture. The women were able to work as they wanted to,

However they had no prior knowledge, skills or education of how to do the “men’s work”. It was said that the feminine were being absorbed (playing along) into the


“ Rather than proposing radical structural change, it suggests that working within

existing social and political organizations will eventually secure women social;

Political and economic parity with men.” (Dolan 1998: 3)

This is evident in Figure:1, Born This Way by Lady Gaga, whereby Lady Gaga is dressed as a man, in fact she is dressed in a similar way to the man standing next to her. This suggests that she is an “equal” to him as she looks similar and is able to act as he does, however, taking a closer look, she does not act as him,

Lady Gaga is portrayed as hysterical. This is seen as Radical Feminism and

although she may seem “equal” to the man, she is still in his society.

In Material Feminism the gender becomes a construct of consequences and

possibilities. This allows the female to do a lot of things, however she is still, yet again in man’s society, “ In materialistic discourse, gender is not innate.

Rather, it is dictated through encultration, as gender divisions are placed at the

service of the dominant cultures ideology.” This process that there is not just a black and white outlook on gender, but an understanding. This Feminist theory

relates to that of the male gaze and the performance of women for a man.

In Figure: 2, You and I by Lady Gaga, this is evident in the sense that she is

performing as both male and female. Through this portrayal of both genders, Gaga

has taken the place of both the object and subject, allowing her ultimate power over her audience. Through this scene, we are able to identify that she is portraying

the women through the male gaze as well as the male gaze through the women’s view as well.

In Figure: 3, Show me your Teeth by Lady Gaga, we are able to see how Gaga

reverses the typical male and female role in society and plays on the characteristics

of gender. The act of looking and allowing looking back is also portrayed in that

Lady Gaga has the “power” role or creates a phallus (typically used with reference to male potency or dominance) to allow her the “talking stick” (the power to speak),

in that she can make those decisions herself.

The Queer Theory comes into play within a deeper analysis of the male gaze and the way in which lesbianism comes into play. Sexuality and the distinction between heterononmy and homosexuality become almost non-existent as the Queer Theory

provides more of a critique from both aspects and does not favor one side.

There is not only one opinion and the theory pertains to more about the critique and

understanding of gender rather than the heteronmomy of what gender appears to be in a hetro – sexual, white male society. “Ideology is implicit in perception, and therefore in any critical or creative act – analysis, description or interpretation.”

(Dolan 1998: 15)

This sense and theory of critical analysis and non-judgmental view, is effectively

translated in Figure: 4, Alejandro by Lady Gaga. The men and women are

portrayed in “skin” colored outfits which signify their nudity and non-totalizing act.

I believe my design practices would relate to that of Material Feminsim. Within each

project , the brief; concepts and outcomes all follow a set of subconscious layouts whereby I have a specific gendered target audience in mind. Whether intentional or not, gender is unfortunately apparent within every, if not most aspects of our lives.

I believe my design practices follow Materialistic Feminism as they have a

tendancy to be related to looking and the male gaze. Within each of my briefs,

I am sure to find a relevant construct of gender and I am able to relate it back to the theory of Materialist Feminism.