Monday, October 15, 2012

Gender Roles , Sex Power


During the time period of the Middle Ages, the expected roles for women in Europe were to provide for their homes. Women were, “ the virtual prisoners of the men in their lives” (GG 19). Women were not able to read or write, their opinions or anything did not mean anything during this time. Not only could they not speak their minds but also they could not inherit land and hold fiefs. They were entrusted with the charge of castle when their lord went away.  Women were set to be housewives and were, “ required to be faithful to her husband, and adultery could be punished by flogging or being buried alive” (GG 22). Being that said women couldn’t defend themselves, a man was allowed to her. The only women a women could get a sense of freedom was by becoming a nun, although it was not a privileged life either. Women, “ social roles remained circumscribed by a Christian ethic that stressed obedience and chasity” (Chadwick, 44). Women were also controlled by the church, meaning that the church told them what they were allowed what to learn. “Nuns wrote book on medicine, science, and sacred music” (GG 22). Nuns were given important voice in the church. This gave women some privilege being a nun.
            As for the Renaissance, this was a period were it was much better for women compared to the Middle Ages. During this period woman were beginning to develop more sense of freedom doesn’t wasn’t easily accomplished. This was also when men, “began to obsess over and objectify the naked female body as never before” (GG 47). Being that said women were still known  for being the stay home and take care of the house but women did start to intake photography. Photography was something new to women and they couldn’t be excluded from this, it allowed them to express themselves and be heard because the art of photography. A famous woman painter, Rosa Bonheur, she became successful from most of her paintings. She loved women and animals. One of her famous paintings, The Horse Fair, made her be recognized as the best artist in Europe. “ [Her] animals, although full of life and breed, have no pretensions to culture,” this was quoted among the Daily News (GG 48). Aside from her painting making her famous and being recoginzed she also started the change of women. Rosa reached out to women by telling them, “ Let women establish their claims by great and good works and not by conventions”(GG 48). Women started to make a change and started doing work, similar to men work.
            During the 19th century and the Middle Ages the roles of women that had been developed had changed their perspective in how they saw things, especially what they painted. Referring back to Rosa Bonheur, she was an example of how rebellious women became to be. Rosa didn’t care of how people looked at her she would smoke and wear what she wanted without thinking twice about what people thought. She even painted her work as if she was a man. The textures of how she painted her work defined her work as a men’s painting. She was brave enough to paint her work while observing men. She showed women how the roles were no longer based on how woman were the ones in portraits but how men were as well.
Women were trying to make their names known and fight for their rights through painting and writing. The use of technology helped women change their rights for themselves. As women slowly got to get changes done, more artists and slaves such as Harriet Powers were known. Harriet Powers was not able to read or write but she managed to memorize stories from the bible and create the stories in quilts. Women had the power to progress while fighting their way up to where they were equal. Paintings made by women was just considered a painting that was ‘great for a woman.’ They had to illustrate the word women after it just to say that it was a woman that made it. They were denied to pain any nude painting of men as well.
            Although women had their sense of freedom, they still had rules to follow along. Being a women men that if you ever wanted to be educated it was just as impossible. Education was easier for men to achieve than women. Women had to show their strength and power in their work of art. By showing their struggles and achievement it help others see what women went through. Till this day we continue to see women making more changes compared to the adventures they have done during the 19th century. This link below helps to illustrate more of what women had to go through during the 19th century.

Work Citied

Chadwick, Whitney. Women, Art, and Society. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, 1990. Print. 

Chadwick, Whitney. Women, Art, and Society. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, 1990. Print. 

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