Monthly Archives: August 2011

Blow up? Or blow dry?

Stop thinking about cleavage. Disgraceful. Here's a picture of a kitten instead.

“Take the men if you’re going in that dress and hat,” Rebecca Dew had advised. “I’ve had a good bit of experience in canvassing in my day and it all went to show that the better-dressed and better-looking you are the more money . . . or promise of it . . . you’ll get, if it’s the men you have to tackle. But if it’s the women, put on the oldest and ugliest things you have.”

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Willows

Ok, it’s another post involving gratuitous references to boobs. (Boobs and Anne Shirley in the same post?! Mind. Blown.) This one, though, is written by popular demand. I recently linked to an interesting article on my Facebook page, relating to the recent publication of Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital by LSE academic Catherine Hakim. Reduced to essentials, the book basically argues for the contentious idea that it’s acceptable – even desirable – for women to use their physical and sexual attractiveness to get ahead in life and in the workplace. This blog is prompted by the flurry* of comments posted on my page in response to the article, debating the failings and merits of the argument within a framework of feminist principle vs. ‘real-world’ pragmatism. It strongly resembled a Socratic dialogue, if Socrates and Plato had been able to ‘Like’ each other’s comments.

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Filed under Feminism, Reviews

Girls! Girls! Girls!

Female Nude - Amedeo Modigliani (1916)

I like naked ladies. There, I said it. I should qualify that, in the context of this post at least, I’m talking about naked ladies of the painted variety. Oil on canvas makes everything more socially acceptable, no? Take the lovely on the left – Amedeo Modigliani’s Female Nude (1916) – who currently resides on my bedroom wall in print form (and in the Courtauld in her original state). It’s a beautiful painting; one of my favourites, in fact. I love the peaceful look on the woman’s face, and her relaxed posture. The fact that she’s nude is secondary to that air of relaxation, and yet at the same time it’s integral to the painting’s intimacy and naturalness.

It occurred to me recently, while dragging someone round a gallery, that most of the paintings that I pointed out as ‘favourites’ focused upon the female nude as their primary subject. That’s quite a disconcerting conclusion for a female (and feminist) art historian to reach, given the connotations of patriarchal dominance and sexual objectification inherent in the idea of the naked woman painted by the male artist.

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Filed under Art, Feminism