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Artistic Behavior in the Human Female Essay

The passage above comes from the article, “Artistic Behavior in the Human Female,” by Jean Robertson (2003, p. 24). Robertson (2003) argued that female artists define and interpret female sexuality in diverse and conflicting ways, and by using different artistic strategies. Robertson makes assumptions about the woman’s body as a contested terrain, wherein being a woman continues to be a subject of heated debate. For him, how female artists view themselves as women, and as artists, shape their depiction of “femininity” and “female sexuality” in their artworks.

One of the quotes that Robertson mentioned in his text comes from Simon de Beauvoir. In her seminal book, “The Second Sex,” she stressed that: “One is not born a woman, but, rather, becomes one. ” I want to reflect on de Beauvoir’s statement and Robertson’s belief about the woman’s body. I agree with de Beauvoir that social experiences and political conditions impact the construction of “being a woman. ” Society shapes how women and men see femininity and gender roles through establishing gender roles and expectations.

An example is when a girl is “conditioned” by her mother to be a “woman,” by telling her how she should act as a “woman. This includes educating her about the toys she can and cannot use, and the games she can and cannot play. The girl learns that she should act and think a certain way, in order to be “feminine. ” She learns that she cannot be boisterous or get involved in sports, because that would be too “manly” for her. This girl is the perfect example of “becoming” a woman. On the other hand, I also agree that being a woman is a biological and individual construct.

A woman is a product of her biology, whether she likes it or not. This is why women are also defined by their sexual organs. Their biology also determines their sex, as well as their gender. Furthermore, being a woman is a product of individual desires and needs. Any woman can define her womanhood the way she also wants it to. Robertson indicated the existence of the pluralities of femininity. It is true that a woman’s body is a contested terrain, and for me, what is wrong with that? Is it not also possible to have multiple femininities, instead of having only one approach to define and to interpret what it means to be a woman?

There is nothing wrong, in my opinion, of having different ways of being a woman, because to deny one approach to womanhood undermines the very essence of being a free woman. Journal entry 2 In “A conversation about race and class,” Childers and Hooks (1990) argued that gender should be expanded to include issues of race and class. They said that: “…we should begin by talking about how we experienced the struggle to challenge and expand the category of gender” (pp. 61-62). For them, people cannot understand gender in its whole sense, if racial and class issues are overlooked in gender analysis.

This reading challenged my view of gender, by asking me to see gender through a much broader lens. I have not considered that gender issues also intersect racial and class issues. On the other hand, Childers and Hooks (1990) compelled me to think about the politics of gender. This is related to our discussions about gender as a political object. The politics of gender demonstrate that there are hierarchies to the feminine gender that are experienced by many women. Power is also affected by one’s class and race.

If white female women feel that there is a glass ceiling at the workplace, lower-class black and Hispanic women face a greater and heavier glass ceiling in society. Because of their class and race, they feel and experience multiple glass ceilings- the ceiling of racial discrimination, the ceiling of class discrimination, and the ceiling of gender discrimination. These ceilings, on top of one another, represent something more than just a hindrance to economic development, but resemble ceilings that are directly pressed on these women’s bodies.

They could hardly breathe, because there are just too many ceilings that make it difficult for them to even survive. Now, I look gender as an amalgam of issues that women bring to gender discourse. As a result, race and issue not only expand gender discourse, but considering them has also broadened my understanding of gender and its diverse conflicts. Journal entry 3 When feminists speak about feminism, they mostly see the opposition between the feminine and the masculine- the yin and the yang.

We also discussed the binary opposition in class, which heightened my knowledge of how women are reduced to the lower spectrum of the opposition. The binary opposition also exists in differentiating mothers from fathers. Mothers are put in pedestals, while fathers are forgotten and scorned. Laqueur (1990) complained about this binary opposition in “The Facts of Fatherhood. ” This is an interesting article that argued about the repression of the history of fatherhood. Laqueur (1990) posited that while women enjoyed being the “natural” parent, fathers were regarded as mere providers, or even as a backdrop to the family.

He stressed that it is time for fathers to reclaim their right to be part of the parenting history, wherein their contributions to the formation of society are recognized and respected. This polemical article amuses and interests me significantly. It amuses me because at the back of my mind, I felt gender discrimination in reverse. I believe that mothers have specials bonds with their children, but this belief, however, is marked by sexism. Do not fathers also share special bonds with their children? Laqueur (1990) challenged the notion of motherhood, because it undermined the importance of fatherhood.

In my mind, it is better to not differentiate mothers from fathers, which is the same as stopping ourselves from differentiating women and men. Women and men have their own strengths and weaknesses and none is more superior. In the same line of thought, mothers and fathers are also equal. Let us just call motherhood and fatherhood as parenthood and give fathers their rightful place in the history and the practice of nurturing human society. Furthermore, this is also an interesting article, because it challenged me to talk about being a woman in relation to being a man.

Being a woman has its multiplicities, and now, being a man has its pluralism too. For me, these multiplicities, acknowledged as part of gender analysis, render two steps forward for true gender equality. Journal entry 4 In “Criticizing Feminist Criticism,” Gallop, Hirsch, and Miller (1990) debated on the purposes and development of feminine criticism. Their main point is that feminist criticism writers have gone to the extreme, by pulverizing each other’s feminist views. They believe that this process is futile in understanding and improving the development of gender discourse and feminism.

They asserted that feminism can be criticized in a more comprehensive manner, wherein there is no right or wrong feminism. I chose this article because it threads on sensitive issues, wherein the personal versus the collective idea of feminism clashes. Feminists have different worldviews about gender roles, sexuality, and femininity, and they criticize each other in different ways. I have never thought that feminist criticism has become too unconstructive. This is not my idea of criticism at all.

I think about my own criticism of feminist criticism and I cannot help but agree that criticism is not about “thrashing” feminist theories (p. 350). Criticism is also about adding something to existing theories, in ways that can benefit the understanding of what it means to be a woman and how different understandings contribute to a wide range of feminism discourse. I earnestly believe also that feminists cannot define feminism in one way or several ways alone. Feminism should be viewed as a huge mess of ideas and values, different and special to women and groups, who fight for and because of different issues.

Yes, it is a mess alright, because being a woman is a dynamic process that is also a part of being an individual and being a member of one’s race, class, and so on. Being a woman cannot ever be a tidy place, wherein women think the same and act the same. I would rather have it as a mess- wherein women are free to think and re-think feminism, in relation to their personal experiences and values.


Childers, M. & Hooks, B. (1990). A conversation about race and class. In M. Hirsch & E. F. Keller (Eds. ), Conflicts in feminism (pp. 60-81). New York, NY: Routledge. Gallop, J. , Hirsch, M. , & Miller, N. K. (1990). Criticizing feminist criticism. In M. Hirsch & E. F. Keller (Eds. ), Conflicts in feminism (pp. 349-369). New York, NY: Routledge. Laqueur, T. W. (1990). The facts of fatherhood. In M. Hirsch & E. F. Keller (Eds. ), Conflicts in feminism (pp. 205-221). New York, NY: Routledge. Robertson, J. (2003). Artistic behavior in the human female. In B. Stirratt & C. Johnson (Eds. ), Feminine persuasion: art and essays on sexuality (pp. 23-38). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

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