REPRESENTATIONS OF DESIRE AND IDENTITY IN CONTEMPORARY WOMEN'S WRITING AND FILM-MAKING.
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Following the publication of Simone de Beauvoir's influential book, The Second Sex, (1949), many feminist critics in Europe and North America have discussed the problems facing women artists and critics of working within phallocentric and phallo-symbolic culture and language. Simone de Beauvoir was the first to demonstrate how male-dominated culture has used symbolic language in order to exclude, repress, and objectify women. Language is one of the key mechanisms employed in phallocentric culture to define and construct reality and gender identity according to male experience and desire. Feminist critics writing since the 1950s,. have been examining the ways in which women might find or develop a language through which they can express their own experience of reality, gender identity, sexual desire and pleasure. Many contemporary women writers and film-makers have appropriated the representations of female desire and sexuality that pervade male-dominated western culture, deconstructing and subverting them in order to create innovative and challenging representations of their own. They refer to, and draw upon, the traditional imagery and conventions of classic Hollywood cinema, using such references to serve their own ends and create their own meanings. They have also radically deconstructed and reappropriated stereotypical pornographic images, exploring the possibility of creating a female-oriented, woman-centred, non-misogynous erotica. Women working in the fields of literature and film are attempting to explore and develop alternative representations of female desire and gender identities, experimenting with new vocabularies of representation in order to explore women's perceptions of their multiple identities and their experience of themselves as desiring subjects. They have taken some of the most negative representations of women constructed by phallocentric culture, and reappropriated them in order to create innovative, alternative forms of representation and a radical critique of the social construction of "femininity" and gender identity.
AuthorsHastings, Miriam Wendy
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