From the 24th of May to the 25th of September 2011, the Jeu de Paume museum is organising a retrospective dedicated to Claude Cahun, a writer, artist and photographer from the first half of the 20th century who was one of the first people to consider the issues of gender.
Claude Cahun, née Lucy Schwob (1894-1954), was therefore one of the first artists to appreciate the mixture of femininity and masculinity that characterises each human being. She depicted this discovery in her self-portraits, which were extremely daring for the time, where she sometimes made herself up as a woman and sometimes as a man, going as far as to shave her head to perfect the look. She wanted to portray a “third gender”, at the boundary between androgyny and bisexuality, as shown by this quote from the artist which is displayed at the entrance to the exhibition: “Confuse people. Masculine? Feminine? But that depends on the case. Neutral is the only gender which always suits me.”
Tomboy illustrates the idea defended by Judith Butler that we play up to our sexual identity, which is a game and a social construction.
Laure is 10 years old and is a tomboy. Arriving in a new neighbourhood, she makes Lisa and her gang believe she is a boy. Summer becomes a big playground and Laure becomes Michael, a boy like the others … but different enough to attract the attention of Lisa who falls in love. See the full story.
This film is a good illustration of Judith Butler’s theory that sexual gender is a social construct. This is because we play the role, from our childhood, of a girl or boy who is a boy or girl. In this film you can see what happens to a girl who tries to pass as a boy; name changing, manly games (soccer, fighting), shirtless sports (she is still flat-chested), hair cut short, a one piece bathing suit, adding a Plasticine willy when swimming, trying to wee standing up, etc.
Here is the decoded theory by the semiotician Raphaël Lellouche of the performativity of gender developed by Judith Butler. The idea developed by Judith Butler is that we are not men or women but that we perform our gender, we play man or woman. Butler’s theory of gender as a performative construction is taken from Austin and Searle.
To start, there is Austins theory. Performativity is a theory of language: when you say it, you do it. Austin has established a distinction; it is why he is well known. We always analyse sentences, propositions of language, and language images as a state of things in reality. A sentence is reality. The famous example is “The cat is on the mat”. There is a cat on a mat drawn on an image or I’m in front of them now, and I say, by showing them “it is on the mat”. If the cat is not there and neither the doormat, I am asked “Where is the cat? And I say” The cat is on the mat “.
Why do men and women prefer different types of ads? Marketers often rely on cultural or sociological stereotypes to explain this phenomenon, but there may be deeper forces at play. In Gloria Moss’s book “Gender, Design and Marketing“, the author posits purely scientific explanations to justify why men and women’s tastes are so different, and there may be more truth to them than we might expect.
THE THEORY: “WOMEN AND MEN DO NOT HAVE THE SAME DESIGN AESTHETIC.”
The crucial first step in understanding gender differences as related to marketing is to be cognizant of womens’ design aesthetics: what themes, colors, and objects attract them? The author of Gender, Design, and Marketing, Gloria Moss, has surveyed a corpus of literature about drawings that spans over 100 years. Her meta-analysis shows that men and women have intuitive design preferences which do not depend on age or cultural differences, but are consistent throughout time.