The Fallen Princesses, Dina Goldstein
and in that moment, we were all Pocahantas
Okay, but seriously? Jasmine has to be in a war in the desert?
“Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” Oscar Wilde
This gif’s widespread use as shorthand for the concept of ~weaponized femininity~ has always bothered me, and I’ve never understood why it’s become so popular. I mean, sure, at first brush, it seems obvious: here is a studiedly beautiful woman who, with the simple gesture of placing a cigarette between her lips, has dozens of men wrapped around her finger, vying for her favor. But just take a minute here and look at her face. She’s not reveling in this, you get the feeling that she didn’t even expect it, this woman is upset and overwhelmed by the amount of male attention she’s getting.
Because this is a pivotal moment in a movie about a woman who is forced into prostitution.
Giuseppe Tornatore’s Malena came out in 2000, and starred Monica Bellucci as the titular Malena, a young wife whose husband is off fighting for the Axis Powers in WWII. Beautiful and shy, Malena tries to keep to herself, but finds it increasingly difficult as word of her husband’s absence attracts not only the attention of all the men in town, but the bitter jealousy of their wives and lovers. She does nothing to encourage any of her suitors, and instead spends her days caring for her aging father. But this uneasy peace in her life is shattered when she receives word of her husband’s death, and she’s left to fend for herself in a town where half the people only care for her body, and the other half hate her for it.
In the rest of the film we see the following: Malena’s relationship with her father destroyed as a result of sexual slander, Malena taken to court by a jealous neighbor who swears the young woman was sleeping with her husband, Malena’s rape by her lawyer as “payment” for her legal fees, Malena’s entry into the world of prostitution, and Melena’s public beating, stripping, and humiliation at the hands of the town’s women when the Americans arrive at the end of the war. Her husband appears in the third act, somehow alive, and he reclaims his wife, restoring her to respectability, and the townspeople begin to accept her once more, now that she is on the arm of her husband, and has, as some of the women whisper, ‘put on a little weight”.
But in spite of all of that, the film isn’t Malena’s story. Instead, we see her life through the eyes of our narrator, a young boy who by turns worships her and is disgusted by her “fall”. This is his coming of age, his discovery of himself through Malena’s trauma and the specter of female sexual jealousy.
In short, this is not a woman’s movie. Malena’s beauty is a cage, something that draws awful, selfish responses from the men around her, responses that she is forced to endure as a result of her situation. And what’s worse, her looks isolate her from women, none of whom can see past her smoky eyes and hourglass figure to the heartbroken widow who needs a friend.
So you know. Use gifs if you like, weaponize that femininity in the most numbskulled, reductively simple way possible, because lipstick is ~how you control men~ and Sex Is About Power, like Oscar Wilde said. Just remember that in this film, and so tragically often in real life, that power doesn’t rest in women’s hands.
Reblog for commentary!
Okay, but this is pronounced “cooch”, so, yeah.
Chat with 1 note
laralein1507 asked: So, as I actually signed up to tumblr to ask this, I really hope for an answer. First of all, I like your idea to research POC in European Art history. What I would like to know anyhow is if you are actually an art historian? This would be interesting to know, as I am sure I am not the only one to wonder where you study art history (or history of any kind) and never ever learn that there were indeed POC in pre-Enlightenment Europe? Best wishes and thank you for your answer in advance!
I receive a lot of messages that come off as not-so-veiled inquiries into what my “qualifications” are, i.e., whether or not I am “actually an art historian”, as you put it.
I’m a decorated scholar and I work in education, which I’ve talked about here many times before. (I like to use the word “decorated” because I did not previously realize that there are awards that have literal medals attached that one might literally wear around one’s neck, until it actually happened.)
I do not have the power to dictate policy, but I have reason to meticulously review curricula and am extremely familiar with the content chosen by professors for those curricula. Part of my job includes having to read a great deal of the books, articles, handout materials, syllabi, slides, videos, powerpoints, et cetera, that are chosen for all manner of classes.
If you think that total omission of text, images, or other materials dealing with people of color in just about any history class is some sort of exceptional occurrence, you’re flat out mistaken. If these materials are included at all, mockery and misinformation is common from the professors including that material.
I live in a country where, as I’ve said repeatedly, there is a great deal of financial and political pressure to legislate people of color out of history entirely. I’m not inventing some kind of conspiracy, I’m making commentary about laws that are being made as we speak. In 2010, History curricula in the US were drastically revised and legislated; Texas, where the textbooks basically “come from”, put a frighteningly conservative stamp on the educations standards, which will stay in place until 2020.
I see those books every day, and the cropping, the omission, the “sunny side of slavery"…all these things are included. This has happened! According to one of these groups heading the campaigns for revision:
The group called for textbook selection criteria to include: "No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership."
This is literally “We don’t care what actually happened, the important thing is that white leadership is not criticized.” That is literally what this says. That is the state of education right now, as I am speaking to you.
People doing what I’m doing better hope they live in a State where what I’m teaching here is still legal. In answer to your question, “where can you study art and never learn about people of color in Europe?” the answer is : The United States.
On the way to Kansas City, after a Bloody Mary at 39,000 feet , David Bowie appeared in the seat pocket, and said - “I hate flying. We’re all going to die.” Four Bloody Marys later, he was still there.
my friend’s tree is literally the greatest thing i’ve ever seen.
I wish I had this tree so bad.
Wow, yes, ditto!
But I thought the Doctor destroyed all of the Dalekenbaum in the Time War!
Just a few of my internet bugaboos. What are yours? Happy Monday!
Wow. Such peeve. Many whine.
Patriarchy backfiring on men is not sexism against men.
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