Feminism is a social movement and ideology that fights for the political, economic and social rights for women. Feminists believe that men and women are equal, and women deserve the same rights as men in society. The feminist movement has fought for many different causes, such as the right for women to vote, the right to work and the right to live free from violence. The theorists I am going to be using are Simone de Beauvior and Betty Friedan. Simone de Beauvior was a french intellectual and Existentialist thinker. She argues that society and culture has deemed that Woman is ‘other’ – (like a slave/a black/a jew) even though women are not a minority like these groups. Betty Friedan was a magazine writer who decided to investigate a problem many women were expressing in the 1950s and 60s: a sense of loss, inferiority, anger, resentment, bitterness, lack of fulfillment, guilt and loneliness.
The poems I am going to be analysing are Purdah I by Imtiaz Dharker and Standing Female Nude by Carol Ann Duffy. Imtiaz Dharker was born in Lahore, Pakistan but grew up in Scotland. She is a poet, artist and film maker. Imtiaz Dharker is mixed heritage and itinerant life makes her question her geographic belongings, cultural displacement, conflict and gender politics and knowing where the home truly lies in her work. This projects the feeling of hybriding, a predicament which many Indian poets find themeselves in, when writing in English. A quote that describe herself is “I call myself a cultural mongrel” because she is influenced by all the places she have lived in, by what she see and hear and read, by the people she meet, the songs she hear and the streets she walk in. Another poem I will be analysing is Standing Female Nude by Carol Ann Duffy. Carol Ann Duffy was born in Glasgow in 1955. Later she migrated to staffordshire as a child and now lives in Manchester. Most of her poems are dramatic monologues in which she takes on the persona of one of society’s dropouts, outsiders or villians. Duffy says “I’m not interested, as a poet, in worlds like ‘plash’ – seamus Heany works, interesting words. I like to use simple words, but in a complicated way”. In each peom she is trying to reveal truth, dealing with emotions, so it can’t have fictional begining. Standing Female Nude shows the reader a perspective of a woman posing for a nude painting. Purdah is the custom, found in some Muslim and Hindu cultures, of keeping women from being seen by men that are not related to, by having them live in a separate part of the house or behind a curtain, and having them wear clothing that covers the whole body, including the face. The poem is about a girl and how she is battling against her situation where she is gettting controlled to the point that she can’t identify the difference between religion and culture. She is trying to make sense to the world by constantly enaged in self-examination. The girl in the poem is always under inspection, scrutinty and the pressures of this makes question herself why. Standing Female Nude is a poem that deals wih heavily with social injustices, both those of class and gender. The poem conveyed from the perspective of an unfulfilled female nude model. It focuses on the class struggles, but it also targets gender inequalities; even the title itself objectifies the woman as simply standing nude, completely impersonal. .
In many movies, the girl or woman is often objectified and sexualised which same goes for poems such as Standing Female Nude by Carol Ann Duffy. As the model states “six hours like this for a few francs”, the opening line is a compliant that sets the tone of the whole poem, until the twist at the end, when the speaker asserts herself. This quote shows that the model is implying that she feel underpaid and that she does not enjoy her work. The model refers to herself as a “river whore” implying that she has sold her body in multiple ways. Furthermore, states that both the artist and herself are using each other to an extent. As a reader, I understand how it feels if you don’t get pay the amount of work you do. I would be unimpressed as well if I was in her spot and what circumstances she is going through. As Simone de Beauvior states “Woman is required by society to make herself an erotic object.” This means her social duty is ‘to make a good show’, fashion to which she is enslaved, is not reveal to her as an independent individual, but rather to cut her off from her trancendence in order to offer her as prey to male desires. It is simply fair to state that women have been bullied via the expectation that they constantly seem to be their best; however as well as, they have been accused when they try to meet that expectation of frivolouness, traviality, and conformity to stereotypes. I believe that specific styles and colors of clothes have been imposed to mark off distinctions between males and females and to set requirements for what is considered appropriate for each sex. Furthermore, in her eyes, she is getting paid a derisory amount for the work she is doing, just “a few francs.” I think it’s unfair because women are under – represented in higher level of jobs. The idea of gender pay gap which is a high level of the difference between earnings of the women and mens. Many female workers work in jobs where there are more than 80% female working and these female-dominated occupations tend to be less paid. While in New Zealand there are some notable exceptions today, women are more likely to be clustered at the bottom or middle of an organization in a narrow range of occupations. The value placed on women’s jobs: compared to other jobs, the skills and knowledge that women contribute to female – dominated jobs may not be adequately recognized or valued. Work arrangements and responsibilities for caring: more women combine primary care with part – time work, which tends to be more readily available in lower – paid jobs and positions. This restricts women’s access to better paying jobs and positions. In the Standing Female Nude poem it shows how work looks at how women in the worplace are valued and paid. Employment equity is about fairness at work. It means people have the same opportunities to participate fully in employment regardless of their gender.
The fact that females still live in a patriachal world is really surprising. Despite the fact “One day they said, she was old enough to learn some shame.” shows that women, from a very early age, are taught about their gender and the shame associated with it and Dharker’s views relates from these early teachings. This is deliberately ambiguous as situations that women face in the world, depending on where you were born, your culture, or who you are, may be different. Depending on the Eastern and Western viewpoints, there are different perspectives.“purdah is a kind of safety… The body finds a place to hide The cloth fans out against the skin much like the earth that falls on coffins after they put the dead men in.” This imply that when the world begins to see a girl as an object, she should respond by resorting to purdah. The purdah is also a metaphor for women seeking refuge and shrinking back into shells in order to be safe from harm and disapproval. The purdah also stands as an alienation from one’s own self, where a girl is forced to do more than she feels what is expected of her.The social pressure and stress makes one lose a sense of being actual to oneself. As Simone de Beaviour states that “Society, being codified by man, decrees woman is inferior; she can do away with this inferiority only by destroying the male’s superrioty”.
The artist the Standing Female Nude tells the model “And do try to be still”. This shows that the artist is not interested in representing her as a human being but an object. His only concern is that she should be still so he can continue to work. The model is cold, being nude, and thus shivering. But the artist, despite hiring her, does not care and instead ask her to be still. He is detached, probably seeing her as another thing he paints, and he is too ‘important’ to be bothered with her welfare. As the Duffy states “the studio is cold”. This shows artist’s disregard for the model and her comfort. She is standing naked in a cold studio for six hours, he could have attempted to make the studio warmer, but fails to do so. Not only is she being paid inadequately, but she is being ordered around as if she is some kind of lifeless, moldable doll. After these first few lines, it is clear that the model is not doing this for the fun of it. She needs to make money, even if it means posing nude for an ornery painter who pays less than she’s worth. The artist gives the impression of impatience, as if he wes expecting the same indefatigable stillness from the model as from a vase. Gender stereotypes of female weakness and servitude are again challenged when Duffy addresses female sexuality which has traditionally been represented from a phallocentric, masculine, heterosexual perspective. As Simone states “The true woman who does not conform devalues herself sexually and socially.”
In conlusion, the tone Duffy uses helps the reader to see how this woman is being objectified; literally treated as an object by Georges also known as the artist and by the work she does. It also shows in order to be liberated, and change the world, women had to first re-asses themselves. E.g. question assumptions about gender differences, female sexuality and the ‘naturalness of gender role. Imatiaz Dharker highlights muslim woman who are faced with the forces of religious and cultural conservatism. The poet exposes the external suffering of woman fraught within the ‘coils of the traditional society’. Woman are presented as a social outcaste, symbolically one with a hunch on her back due to constant stooping. Imtiaz is audacious and leaves indelible stamp of herself as a poet here.