Men Act; Women Appear

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Maleigha King
Final English Paper
"Men act; Women appear"
John Berger once stated, "men act; women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at." Berger describes this sort of duality of existence in a women wherein she is constantly conscious and concerned with mannerisms; basically, there is always a part of her that it outside of herself and watching with self-discriminating attitude. (1) A women is "the surveyor and the surveyed." (1)

This quote can be taken in several different ways, one being advertisements. While being viewed in advertisement terms we are convinced that it represents stereotypical gender roles. It states that men are shown in advertisements as the more important role, while women attract the consumers. Back in the 50's we had "The Marlboro Man" which clearly represents stereotypical gender roles in the past. In order to escape the idea that Marlboro cigarettes were feminine they used the "Marlboro Man" to expose the perception that they were edgy, strong, powerful, and masculine. Another example would be Virginia Slim cigarettes. With Virginia Slim ads we see the statement, women watch themselves being looked at, being portrayed. Sure, it makes you think that if you are a female and you smoke a Virginia Slim you will not be frowned upon. Although, looking deeper we find that men are portrayed to be dominate even in these ads. The slogan for Virginia Slim is, "You've come a long way, baby." Using the word 'baby' screams out a sense of satisfaction, a type that makes the women believe that if a guy were to be hovered over them watching them smoke, they would be amused. Also, the product is advertised and named as 'slim.' Could this be a way of reassuring the female of their insecurities? Throughout advertisements I do agree with Berger's statement.

Not only is Berger's statement shown through advertising, it is shown through the way women are viewed in films as well. Many people back Berger's statement up saying that men basically create the films we watch today. They believe that women are only there for 'eye candy' and to bring the audience. Although, I do not agree with this. I feel that there are many films today in which women play the biggest roles and are the main character. For example, Julia Roberts plays a huge role in all of her movies, being a very strong, independent women. Many people may agree that all 'chick-flicks' are women film based as well. Not only 'chick-flicks' have women that play important roles though. Angelina Jolie plays in plenty action packed, adrenaline rushing movies. For examples; Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Tomb-Raider, Wanted, and Changeling are all movies Jolie has played major roles in and been successful. She represents a very strong and independent women in each role she plays in all her movies, showing that she doesn't need a man to accompany her in her films to make them better.

I believe the personalities of our people today support Berger's statement the most. Everyday people live their life with concerns about their appearances to others. Granted, this is part of our natural human being instincts to worry about what others think. Although, I feel women are brought up with a consciousness that makes this much worse. Why is the mirror the center of attraction in most girls' rooms? Why do women find themselves looking in the mirror to make sure they look 'beautiful' even when they are alone?

For example, take every day life on campus at LaGrange College. When walking around campus you see most guys in sweatpants and a sweatshirt, with morning 'bed-head' hair, and a pair of shoes that don't match. Most girls are dressed more nice, wearing a pair of jeans and a 'cute' top to match. This is because females are so worried about what the male eye will think about them when they are looked at. Females take extra time to get ready in the morning, making sure every aspect of their makeup, hair, accessories, and clothing...
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