Open almost any magazine and you’ll find women documented as sexual objects to be ogled, praised, or appreciated, for lack of a better term. Throughout history, women have been seen as representatives of fertility, to the point that full-figured women— grotesque by contemporary “popular” societal standards— would eventually serve as the base for statuettes and effigies of this ideology. For example, the Venus of Willendorf, created in around 28,000 B.C.E— yeah, get that abacus— serves as a testament to this practice.
In 2014, women’s bodies are still viewed in similar ways. The “thirst is [STILL] real,” Instagram developed its “DM” system, Nicki’s cheeks still reign supreme, Iggy Azalea is next up, Jen Selter caught the come up, ass-shots are booming, #FeministBooty happened, and of course #Twerking. All of these examples serve as a modern woman’s means of establishing dominance, whether it be over other women or men. We’re not saying that this is the only means of gaining control, but this shit works. To quote Camille Paglia:
Contemporary feminism cut itself off from history and bankrupted itself when it spun its paranoid fantasy of male oppressors and female sex-object victims. Woman is the dominant sex. Woman’s sexual glamour has bewitched and destroyed men since Delilah and Helen of Troy.
Although this may represent a not so favorable side of feminism that places women in the dominant role, it speaks volumes in lieu of what went down on Twitter over the weekend.
Following the publishing of Elliot Rodger’s manifesto, in which the deceased murderer details and cites his “frustrations” with women as one of the primary reasons for a killing spree that took place over this past Memorial Weekend. Many men took to Twitter to separate themselves from the notion that not receiving the attention or adoration from women will lead them down a dark path similar to that of Elliot. Implementing the #NotAllMen hash-tag to drive their point home backfired somewhat when women took to twitter using the hash-tag #YesAllWomen to share stories and experiences pertaining to harassment, rape, prejudice faced, and women’s rights issues overall. That being said, it was very interesting to see Nowness’ “The Magic Gap” surface in the wake of all this.
“The Magic Gap” is Nowness’ latest installment in their #DefineBeauty series, in which they take a look at contemporary tropes and aesthetics relating to beauty or body image. For this fourth visual piece, Nowness commissioned director and fashion photographer Guy Aroch to focus his lens on the infamous thigh gap. Here’s what he had to say about the project:
“It was more a comment on the mysterious fixation women have, because as a male, I didn’t even know it was a thing. I was trying to be fly-on-the-wall and quite voyeuristic. Most people didn’t actually know the answer—99% of them. And I didn’t tell them either.”
Said to involve a fixation on pelvic shape and tendon length in the thigh areas, the “magic gap” that is created from all these components falling into place and creating a triangle of desire, both male and female. While some may argue that this obsession is purely sartorial, it’s tough to dismiss the coital aspects of it all. Hey, even the “Venus Of Willendorf” is depicted standing in such a way, knees seemingly touching, drawing attention upwards towards her presentation of her femininity.
#DefineBeauty is a remarkable series that will undoubtedly have you writhing in your seat in discomfort, feeling objectified, unwarranted guilt, or even embarrassed. What you may feel— after or while watching the video— is a discomfort that is in no way equal to what women face everyday. However, this indignity is part of the spark that ignited the flame, leading women to take to Twitter with #YesAllWomen— a medium for women to divulge to the outside world their inner most feelings on everyday indignities. Perhaps the underlying message of the #DefineBeauty series will be the catalyst to spurn discussion, change, and help alleviate some of the objectification women face.
You can check out the Guy Aroch and Nowness piece “The Magic Gap” in our video player above, and be sure to click HERE to check out the rest of their #DefineBeauty series, where they cover the female form in full, body hair, and cosmetic enhancement.