The Ideal Woman – lecture notes

Ovid’s myth of Pygmalion

  • constructions of the feminine ideal, themes of gender construction and embodiment
  • realised that he’s alone, wants to carve a statue that represents his interpretation of an idea woman but ironically isn’t an actual woman. what are the characteristics of a woman? – its all social constructs.
  • carved his idea woman to be his wife out of ‘snow white ivory’ – purity, innocence, expensive, rare, precious. It has a flesh like tone – pale.
  • He dresses it, kisses and touches it, buys it gifts and then undresses it again before laying her down. The notion of a strip tease and believing that she is his. Making her more believable and giving a sexual desire.
  • he designs her, choses what to include and what not to include
  • he gives her feminine gifts like jewellery and flowers. Gender is a social construct, it’s is made up and nobody suggested it.
  • she is only ‘naked’ and sexually desirable after he has undressed her. where as she was naked before.
  • creative construction of a woman into an object to be looked at
  • As a statue it can not speak, it has a silent status and is non-threatening
  • He is ‘repulsed’ by the prostitutes using their bodies for sex, yet creates this ‘woman’ and has no problem with using her where as she doesn’t have a voice
  • ‘real’ women in the flesh and blood discuss Pygmalion as they are not perfect, unblemished and beyond his control
  • Textures of shiny, smooth surfaces, accompany connotations of ‘real’ and ‘natural’ – the unattainable perfection.
  • femininity is described as a site of male desire
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