Saturday, March 6, 2010

"Don't look back."

What struck me the most about Berger’s “Ways of Seeing” was the line near the beginning of our reading, “To be born a woman has been to be born, within an allotted and confined space, into the keeping of men.” This statement both embodies the treatment of women as a fragile object and the later sexual aspect, that women are aroused in a third-party position. Although I agree with this to a certain extent, I would argue that it is actually men who need to perceive women this way because of their fascination with women. Men are programmed to think that they are in charge and – like the story of Adam and Eve— a woman’s role is to tempt that power away, but a real man never gives in. In actuality, the dynamic is more like the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The story goes that Orpheus has a gift of music so strong, that he can make the gods themselves weep. Orpheus’s wife Eurydice dies suddenly in a fatale accident and Orpheus decides to use his gift to convince the gods of the underworld to allow Eurydice to come back to earth. His plan works, but with the condition that he must walk in front of her and not look back until they both had reached the upper-world. Despite the warning, he looks back and loses the love-of-his-life. Over thousands of years of retelling the reasoning behind Orpheus’s choice has morphed into concern for Eurydice because he hears her scream or the gods trick him into looking back by creating a cave-in directly behind him. The real moral is that men need to watch women. They derive their self-worth from it, and then ashamedly try to convince women it is solely that other way around. In reality, no matter how talented, intelligent, beautiful, and skilled society says you are, we still have to look back.

1 comment:

  1. The last part of Berger’s line pertains to the frailty of women, that society has created this illusion that women are “the weaker sex” and need to be protected. From a scientific viewpoint, women are actually stronger. Although men are more apt to develop muscles and physical strength, the extra “X” as opposed to “Y” chromosome makes women less perceptible to genetic diseases. Also, women are able to delegate a larger percentage of their brain capacity toward cognitive memory. But with intellect comes an awareness of our own frailties and creates a need for protection and security. Personally, I do not feel that I have to be protected, but at the same time, I enjoy it.