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  • Rylie Goodchild

Gender

The effect Art and Culture have on the Selfhood of an Individual: How a Self is formed through their Contextual Society.


Claude Levi-Strauss proposed that everything in life exists in opposition to one another, explicitly naming these binary. This, a natural methodology to begin a basic understanding of the world, is an even more prevalent theory within a culture centred around code and crypto-currency economics that are programmed by ones and zeros. In contemporary times we are watching our world become more and more informed by programming, shaping the post-human era and metaverse. However, the argument around binary thinking becomes a little problematic when examples such as men and women are poised opposite one another in the same vein as power versus weakness. This human error represents a generational-bias-belief system cultivated over years of carefully constructed misogyny to repress women. Contemporary society can feel ever more progressive, but behind all coverage of female empowerment in our girlboss age, men still hold most positions of power. The distance we have come in the last 100 years only highlights the dire state we were in further, not pardon the further work that needs to take place. Globally, we are all functioning under a patriarchal society that has programmed us to believe that women are inferior to men, even if our activated brain believes otherwise. This ingrained misogyny is within all of us, and has been built into the functionality that our society follows.

Kate Millett developed the (somewhat basic) comprehension that women are not inherently, biologically or factually weaker than their male counterparts; but that the power men hold within society is socially constructed. She campaigned that “the personal is political”(Millett, K., 2016.), and is thought of as the woman to ignite second wave radical feminism. Alongside her was Betty Friedan, offering a different 'softer’ point of view on the politics of being a woman during the mid-20th century. One would hope that this discourse would have enabled widespread recognition of how the world is structured against women, and eradicate the belief that women have an innate lesser capability. Although, only now is there a youth-generation-wide progression to this way of thinking, which predicts that the world will continue to exist in a sexist manner for at least another 50-100 years still. To me this is scary, and does not project a bright outlook for other intersectional and marginalised identities that hold feminism as the most progressive movement in a long list of troubling societal faults. Modernity has birthed a new pressure on young women also; to actively show that they are strong willed, reject housewifery and demonise traditional femininity. This has bred a new level of burden to the feminist struggle, where conventional femininity is being associated with exhibiting the characteristics misogyny attributed to women, (for example victim blaming women for being vulnerable when we are harassed). To the ignorant, feminism is seen as trouble making. Examples such as #metoo rocked a very stable structure men were able to abuse, and spread the belief that these women were the problem, due to abuse of power beyond truth. The established misogynistic enemy causes no end of issues to the credibility and voice of women everyday, returning the responsibility of this issue to the women affected by it, not the men perpetrating it. So forth, to be taken seriously women and girls have to emulate masculine strength to be respected by the world.

This post-feminism structure constitutes that women have to do the work for those that view us as less, by displaying that we are strong enough to be taken seriously. In this sense society has prohibited progression since Millett’s age, yet now there is a further stigma attached to traditional femininity and female dominated roles, making it even harder for women to feel valued in life. This form of trad-wife hating feminism is itself steeped in misogyny: blaming women for being suppressed, shaming us for finding power in unpaid labour and ultimately excluding women from joy, happiness and fulfilment on the same level as a man.

Gender is an exploited reason within our culture to begin marginalising individuals, yet when the gendered state moves away from being centralised on sex, one begins to see presentation as a performative act. Gender scratches at something larger and more complex, having been the topic of many artist’s work and studies. Having an identity is a human need, and when you take the rights of that identity from the self, a person ceases to exist. This can apply to all ways of being, shaping everyone in the world by different variables on their intersection of class, culture and disposition.