Berger's Portrayal of Men vs Women

Topics: Nudity, Public nudity Pages: 3 (1036 words) Published: April 18, 2013
John Berger’s Portrayal of Male versus Female Nudity and it’s relation to Modern Society

In the book Ways of Seeing, chapter 3 by John Berger, Berger outlines his portrayal of the differences between men and women and the manner in which they are culturally represented by analyzing nude depictions of woman in the European artistic tradition through paintings. The paintings overtime have demonstrated that men have more power over women as they are the main spectators of the paintings, and the women are the object of the paintings. These standards described in his article are still significant in today’s society, as seen by the reaction of the public to the advertisement displays of male nudity for the Leopold Museum in Vienna.

According to Berger, the male’s presence is all about potency, power, strength and his abilities. He is viewed as the dominant being over the woman whereas the women’s presence is about only her and what can or cannot be done to her. Women are more concerned with surveying themselves the way they think others will see them so that they can act in a way that is appealing toward the men. This suggests that the way she views herself is the way society will see her. This theory is displayed in the styles of the European paintings. The paintings are geared toward the male viewer which gives him a legitimate excuse for looking at the nude women in order to flatter himself. The paintings clearly demonstrate through the expression of the woman that the woman is aware that she is being viewed thus objectifying herself as a subject of a gaze. Berger simplifies this by saying “Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.” (Berger, 47). The overall point the chapter makes is that men have more power over women, and because of this, women are property of the men.

Berger’s chapter gives many examples that support his portrayal that men are the more dominant gender. For example, when reflecting on the story of Adam and Eve in the...
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