The sheen factor: how to euthanize a fish

Although March 8th will mark the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, women can ostensibly claim a dry or cold form of progress, but under the veneer of egality, they remain deeply exploited; it takes more than law to bridge a gender issue that is far more profound. At present, it can be termed the erotics of capitalism, or preferably “marketism” where production is marginal; replaced by a servile relationship to the broader context of the market economy. And women are central to this; a system that relies on the production and maintenance of desire. Consumer marketing produces this erotic charge that is complicit with a modern organization of sexuality. Women still remain objects of the “male gaze” yet they are continually enticed and cajoled; humored, into being complicit subjects. Women are still “things” to be sold on the market, something which Walter Benjamin remarked, “has massively excited the sexual fantasies of the bourgeoise”; a situation where contradictions are to be repressed and men cling to the object and empathize with it. Yes, the truth is we are a primitive culture, closer to barbarism than our pretensions to civilization. Proof is the fact we are informed by gender at all levels and contexts.

Donald Thompson:Last Monday at 6:43 p.m., at the new auction headquarters of Phillips de Pury on Park Avenue in New York, auctioneer Simon de Pury dropped his hammer to signify the sale of lot 12, a lifelike, nude waxwork of former actress and supermodel Stephanie Seymour. Designed to be mounted on the wall like a deer’s head, it is titled Stephanie but the art world knows it as Trophy Wife. The piece turns the representation of Ms. Seymour into a literal trophy, her nude upper body arching from the wall, breasts covered discretely with hands. The sculpture is one of four identical versions created by iconic Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. Its real human hair had been perfectly coiffed by celebrity New York stylist Frederic Fekkai. The catalogue gave a price range of US$1.5-to US$2.5-million. Mr. De Pury predicted it might go as high as US$4-million. Why would anyone pay such a price for a waxwork of someone else’s wife, when the same amount might buy a modest Monet or Picasso — or an actual trophy wife?

Simon Houpt: Is it more appropriate to think of a woman as prey, or as a trophy? This ontological conundrum comes to us courtesy of Heineken, which this week altered an ad it had been running since August after complaints of sexism. The 30-second spot, titled The Tiger, shows two fellows trying different tactics to pick up a lady at a wedding. A voiceover
suggests the scene is like a jungle, and explains there are “two types of tigers – one who goes straight to the prey and the one who makes the prey surrender to him.” On Sunday, the brewer changed the word “prey” to “prize.” Yea. That should totally stop the complaints about sexist advertising. Read More: a

"Caravaggio has painted a magnificent Holofernes, muscled, strong, powerful. His horrified face is the attention-grabbing focus of this picture. Judith, on the other hand, slices his neck with a look of mild distaste, as if she is carving the Sunday roast. The colors, harmonious composition and shading of the painting are superb, as we would expect from Caravaggio. But magnificent as the painting is, it does not convey the ghastly horror of the event." Read More:

Walter Benjamin called this the “erotology of the damned” where money becomes eroticized, and a commodification of selling imposes itself in place of giving. To Benjamin, love of a prostitute is “the apotheosis of empathy with the commodity.” He was prescient in noting that in modern advertising showed, “to what extent the attractiveness of the woman and those of the commodity could be merged.” Equal citizens, but de-naturalized citizens and in relation to marketing culture, beauty and appearance can be seen as an unrelenting burden, a protracted labor of Sisyphean proportions….

Anna Holmes:The privilege afforded wealthy white men like Charlie Sheen may not be a particularly new point, but it’s an important one nonetheless. Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears are endlessly derided for their extracurricular meltdowns and lack of professionalism on set; the R&B star Chris Brown was made a veritable pariah after beating up his equally, if not more, famous girlfriend, the singer Rihanna. Their careers have all suffered, and understandably so. Read More:

Anna Holmes: That Mr. Morgan didn’t press the issue of domestic violence shouldn’t have come as any surprise. CBS executives, not to mention the millions of viewers of his “family” sitcom “Two and a Half Men,” have consistently turned a blind eye toward Mr. Sheen’s history of abusing women. Part of this, of course, is about money. The actor’s F-18 of an id — to borrow a metaphor from Mr. Sheen himself — had long provided the show a steady stream of free publicity. It also helped make Mr. Sheen the highest-paid actor on television, at $1.2 million an episode….

Maurizio Cattelan.

…But it’s also about apathy. Even now — after Mr. Sheen began carpet-bombing his bosses in radio rants, prompting CBS to shut down production on the show — observers still seem more entertained than outraged, tuning in to see him appear on every talk show on the planet and coming up with creative Internet memes based on his most colorful statements. And while his self-abuses are endlessly discussed, his abuse of women is barely broached. Read More:

"Art should provoke an individual's curiosity and indeed, Picasso's Les Demoiselles d' Avignon has made the thought possible. The painting depicts five women in still form but what made the piece extraordinary is how the disjointed features of the women perfectly complemented each other. There are the women on the left and right side of the painting with mask-like expressions on their faces and the woman in the center was artistically created as her front and back body part is shown simultaneously without disrupting the impression that it creates on people." Read More:

…Obviously, the prostitute is the most extreme example of the mass produced woman. The bottom of the food chain. However, even ironically to many, Lesbians and feminists, and even intellectuals can be regarded as modernity’s heroines. Rebelliously, their life can be seen unraveling as a form of defiance against the social order, the economic unit of the family and the role of motherhood, which places the monetization of marriage as financial conduit to succeeding generations in doubt. The lesbian, in a sense, is a courageous attempt to avoid commodification and sidestep the compulsive, almost authoritarian logic

eterosexual attraction; an attraction that underpins much of consumer commodity culture.

"We recently received a copy of Maurizio Cattelan’s new art magazine, Toilet Paper. It combines commercial photography, twisted narratives, and surrealistic imagery to create a series of striking visual tableaux" Read More:

Take this, for example: A new study to be published by the Journal of Consumer Research suggests women are better than men at figuring out unusual products, but they may not be as good at keeping the claims of different products distinct in their minds. The paper’s authors – three profs at the Ivey School of Business – studied people who were shown images of odd products, such as cars without wheels or a soft drink packaged in an unusual way. They found women were better able to decode visual incongruities, and figure out what was going on in a scene. “There are dramatic differences in how males and females process the advertising context,” the authors wrote. Sounds true. Now can they explain to our wife why we never ask for directions? Read More:

Anna Holmes:But there’s something else at work here: the seeming imperfection of Mr. Sheen’s numerous accusers. The women are of a type, which is to say, highly unsympathetic. Some are sex workers — pornographic film stars and escorts — whose compliance with churlish conduct is assumed to be part of the deal. (For the record: It is not.)…

"After a quarter of a century railing against the dusty establishment, the art world's most prominent group of radical feminists has decided to join it. The Guerrilla Girls, a collection of radical, left-leaning pop artists famed for wearing gorilla masks and fishnets to highlight sexism, racism, and other pillars of injustice, announced this week that its historic archive will be kept, for posterity, by the bluest of America's blue-chip cultural institutions. " Read More:

Others, namely Ms. Richards and Ms. Mueller, are less-famous starlets or former “nobodies” whose relationships with Mr. Sheen have been disparaged as purely sexual and transactional. The women reside on a continuum in which injuries are assumed and insults are expected.

“Gold diggers,” “prostitutes” and “sluts” are just some of the epithets lobbed at the women Mr. Sheen has chosen to spend his time with. Andy Cohen, a senior executive at Bravo and a TV star in his own right, referred to the actor’s current companions, Natalie Kenly and Bree Olson, as “whores” on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program on Tuesday. Arianna Huffington sarcastically tweeted that Mr. Sheen’s girlfriends “symbolize modesty, loyalty and good taste.” Mr. Sheen’s own nickname for Ms. Kenly and Ms. Olson — “the goddesses” — is in its own way indicative of their perceived interchangeability and disposability. Read More:

Jane MacDougall: Point in case: I am the most beautiful woman in the world….

"In one of his shrewdest sayings, Benjamin remarked that what drives men and women to revolt against injustice is not dreams of liberated grandchildren, but memories of enslaved ancestors. It is by turning our gaze to the horrors of the past, in the hope that we will not thereby be turned to stone, that we are impelled to move forward." Read More:


No really: I am. It’s the only explanation I can think of.

Where do I get the idea? I get it from other women. You see, I must be dauntingly beautiful for I strike fear into the hearts of women. I see it all the time.

For I am single. I operate without the express consent and protection of a man. There is no aegis that shields me. And that makes women uneasy.

As it should. Because women cannot control men, they do the next best thing: They seek to control me.

They do it with censure, scurrilous comment and exclusion. They do it, not because they know me -they don’t. They do it because they know men. And I would do the same. Could this be the glitch that impedes our progress? Read More:

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One Response to The sheen factor: how to euthanize a fish

  1. Maureen says:

    That in the 21st C we still have sex slave trading, genital mutilation of girls, people who enjoy the ugliness of and profit from the likes of Sheen, and on and on is stunning. Contrary to the old Virginia Slims ad, we haven’t come a long way.

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