Gender Studies Via ON BEAUTY

Everything I do I do with my body. Even my soul is made up of raw meat, flesh. Truth is in a face, as much as it is anywhere.  We women know that faces are full of meaning, I think. Men have the gift of pretending that’s not true. And this is where their power comes from.

Carlene Kipps from Zadie Smith’s On Beauty p. 96

That quote above seems pretty insightful to me up to the point about power.  That is, I have found that women communicate more with their faces and bodies than men do.  They are more conscious of both what they put out and what other people are putting out through body language.  This becomes more and more clear to me as I get older and more women tell me about the subtle jockeying for position between women via how they look at each other, how they stand, every physical movement, especially upon first meeting.  I’m also notified more frequently when my measured words are betrayed by my face.

So yes, I agree witht the first part.  But the note on power is omitting a crucial fact.  Maybe men get whatever limited power they have from their ability to ignore this, but I think more likely to be the case is that women get much more power from taking note of it.  In general, they have a much better understanding of subtext than men.  When taken advantage of, it can be the source of great power. Carlene fails to note this.  Maybe it’s implicit or maybe I’ll understand why as I learn more about her character.  It’s already clear that her audience in the scene, Kiki Belsey, disagrees.

More later about On Beauty and Wine Spectator’s love affair with 2005 Bordeaux.


~ by jaredran on July 15, 2008.

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