I am currently reading this amazing book, Ways of Seeing by John Berger, and in one of the essay's it discusses how women throughout history have been trained to have two identities: the surveyor and the surveyed.
"She has to survey everything she is and everything she does because how she appears to others, and ultimately how she appears to men, is of crucial importance for what is normally thought of as the success of her life. Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another......Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object - and most particularly an object of vision: a sight."
The chapter goes on to describe this in much more detail but this snippet really stuck out to me and has made me question many things about myself. For one, working through a blog forum where I can choose to show myself any way I wish is going to be biased but I try to remain as true to myself as I can for mine and the readers sake. However I can only show so much and I am obviously not going to show the negative things in my life so in turn I end up creating a new world for myself to live in and perhaps a world that I would rather live in.
The idea of women having two identities is quite true and I can strongly relate to it. By taking my own photos of myself I have to be the surveyor and the surveyed. I am constantly thinking of ways and places to take pictures of myself and at the same time I am thinking of how I am going to portray myself in front of the camera and how I am going to document it behind the camera. This has come from my many years as a model and perhaps even before that. So if women are both female and male in the sense that they have two identities (the surveyor and the surveyed) does that make them androgynous or anti-feminist? Either way it is true that I have always remembered being able to picture myself in the situation I was in but as a surveyor, to note how I behaved or appeared in these situations.
"A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. Whilst she is walking across a room or whilst she is weeping at the death of her father, she can scarcely avoid envisaging herself walking or weeping. From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually."
Since we have been taught to survey ourselves constantly it has made us hyper aware of every move that we make and how we wish to be portrayed and treated. As a result we are no longer making genuine actions in our daily lives but actions that come from how we wish for people to perceive us and treat us based on our own perception of ourselves. We are no longer people, but ideas. This ties back in with how I decide to portray myself through the blog. As readers you only get to see what I want to show you. You don't see my anger or depression. My stress or fatigue. Sure, I may mention it in a post but it is only to the extent that I wish to show it. Thus the blog is no longer about Ashley the person but about the idea of Ashley.
"By contrast, a woman's presence expresses her own attitude to herself, and defines what can and cannot be done to her. Her presence is manifest in her gestures, voice, opinions, expressions, clothes, chosen surroundings, taste - indeed there is nothing she can do which does not contribute to her presence. Presence for a woman is so intrinsic to her person that men tend to think of it as an almost physical emanation, a kind of hear or smell or aura."
|All art work by Barbara Kruger|
This post is not meant to be a negative survey on women but more of an enlightening perspective on how we view ourselves. On how our society (and this goes all the way back to the Renaissance oil paintings) has trained women to view and criticize themselves constantly. To read more about this check out Ways of Seeing by John Berger.