Songvids of femininity and masculinity: “Women’s Work” and “vogue_300”

Femcon ’07 opened with a Feminist Show & Tell session.

[Cut for images of sexualised violence. The images are taken from mainstream entertainment, but could be triggering.]

Cupidsbow offered some songvids examining the extent and nature of sexualised violence in mainstream television and cinema. She talked about how depictions of loving, caring sexuality are at least somewhat taboo, while depictions of heavily sexualised and extreme violence are considered perfectly acceptable as fodder for mass entertainment.

The songvids also demonstrate the stark and brutal difference between depictions of male sexuality and female sexuality within this sexiolence genre.

The first songvid, “Women’s Work”, takes and compresses clips from the TV series Supernatural. The women are all white, thin, and beautiful, and are scantily dressed in vulnerable ways. They are cut and slashed and tortured and burned, wild-eyed with terror, with the concurrent display of hairless, slim, obliquely-lit body parts: porn-meat as prey. Victim after victim meets her demise, head thrown back, leaving a bloodied corpse presented for the viewer to leer at. Then there’s a brief hint near the end of women’s revenge – via toxic sexuality. Turn your sound on: the soundtrack is an essential part of the experience.

These images reminded me strongly of this videogame advertising (scroll down to “creepy the third”) and this fashion shoot. These are not images that are particularly cherry-picked or unusual; they are recognisably orthodox, mainstream. They surround us.
[if embedding isn’t working, try here]

Women are prey, but men are predator. The dominated and the dominators. The men of “300_vogue” may be scantily dressed, but they are partially armoured and heavily armed. Their chest muscles are bare but comic-book lumpy – almost armour in itself. Their semi-nakedness is a symbol of power rather than of weakness. The video pokes a little fun at war as dance and phallic-weapon-brandishing as a Vogue dance, and makes its point with a little humour as well as striking style.
[if embedding isn’t working, try here]

(While you’re over at cupidsbow, check out some of her pieces on women’s writing, and the discussions they have generated: “Women/Writing 1: How Fanfiction Makes Us Poor“, “Women/Writing 2: That Classic Combination: Sex and Violence“, and more.)

Categories: gender & feminism, violence

Tags: , ,

6 replies

  1. Some nice work in terms of taking these images out of their mediated contexts and reframing them to critical effect, and in the case of the 300 also to somewhat comic effect. The ‘hypermasculine’ is an easy target in some ways, so perhaps it’s the Supernatural video that is more effective.

  2. My speakers aren’t connected, but that was a pop music video, right?

  3. amphibious: which one? In case you’re not familiar with the source material: the first is a compilation of clips from the TV series Supernatural, to the song ”Violet” by Hole. The second was clips from the movie 300, set to Madonna’s “Vogue”.

  4. Please tell me that Femmecon is some feminist version of the sci-fi fan conferences with attendees in costume.
    How Fanfiction makes us Poor = very interesting.
    One of the more feminist aspects of fandom imho is the amount of skilled fans creating forums for mentoring newb writers, with females as the main participants.
    I’ve always wondered about the number of RL writing/publishing professionals putting major energy into these forums though.
    I’m curious whether any feel that their offers of editing & community hosting fit the mould, in any way, of women losing economically by undertaking lots of (unpaid) socially reproductive labours? In this case arts mentoring, which doesn’t pay much anyway, but still.

  5. Please tell me that Femmecon is some feminist version of the sci-fi fan conferences with attendees in costume.

    This is alllmost on the mark. Femmecon, also spelt femmeconne or femcon, has grown out of the Gynaecon stream of Swancon, and is a women’s space weekend with lots of feminist discussion (among other things). No costumes, though, and not all the attendees are active in fandom.
    Not being active in fandom myself, I don’t know enough about the field to respond to your question in an informed way – but cupidsbow welcomes new commenters!

  6. Oh that 300 video was DIVINE!

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