Posted by: Sk | February 14, 2009

2 Men, women and traditions

If the Inés de la Fressange affaire is of such interest, it is because in fact it covers so many aspects treating such a whole amount of problematics on one and unique wound.One of them precisely is the role of men and women in society, and the image that is built up around men and women depending on the different national contexts.I’ve always taken the national myths, as far as I knew them (Arthur, Roland, Cid, Nibelungen, Odyssee, Gilgamesh and to that extent – from that point of view – even the old testament and other sacred texts) as formal foundation on which the notion of man and woman is built up, and if lacking to my knowledge the use of symbols.The German Gudrun or Krimhilde (for women) or Hagen, Gunther and the kind (for men), where the first is a strong tough man challenger and the second a jealous almost hysterical someone whose reason to live can only be the desire of revenge, have little to do with the vanished Spanish wife and daughters of el Cid, who are closed into a monastery when exile comes, and whose only apparent role is to see their pride revenged when the Counts of I don’t know what humiliate them after marriage in Valencia, and even less with unexisting women in French Roland, where the only role attributed to women is the right to die for Roland’s beloved by learning his death.It is not that national characters accord themselves to these forms. It is that they are built up around this form. The lack of existence of women in Roland seems to be revenged in the very active social, cultural and intellectual French world, while Spanish women maintain extremely clear lines of separation of roles in the determination of a territory for each (the ‘tanto monta, monta tanto, Isabel como Fernando’), to the extent that a man has simply no word … at home, and German women do submit to more passive roles for many centuries where they do simply make themselves disappear from the surface.In the XVIIIth century the constant confusion of identity and the incapacity of defining a proper self, leads to a dissolution of the male world, to the extent that the nation is incapable of defending itself from aggressions coming from outside (due or not to faults deriving from misbehavior or wickedly introduced through foreign influence) to the extent that the resistance against attacks is mainly lead by women, although always putting a ‘Pappmann’ (paper man) in front, it is obvious that the French revolution, as much as Napoleon’s rebuking of attacks are the final work of women, were it visible in the murder of Marat, the extreme influence of Josephine de Beauharnais and other, while the obvious blindness and stupidity of men may be shortly drawn out through the behavior of Louis XVI th’s brother, the duc d’Orleans, who assists to all revolutionary meetings in order to obtain power for himself a few years later.This knowledge of the real happenings is painted in Delacroix’s ‘Victory’ through the exposure of a woman who holds a national symbol in her hand, saying ‘around the nation’, as a unifying spirit allowing  to hold in the battle fields. The nudity is exactly that: she’s neither dressed by logics, nor by ideals, by strategies or religions, she’s just dressed by the fury of seeing the unit of the nation disappear.This ‘Marianne’ will be hold by the French as an almost sacred last resource when everything else is missing. Strangely, the one who paints, is a man, who mixes into his obvious admiration a little bit of restrained jealousy.  As a Spaniard, I do never look too much into foreign national strategies, and think myself while looking at the picture in the Louvre: c’est trop exposé. And don’t stay too long. The visible synthesis of a spirit represented in colors and forms allow to a wicked foreigner the understanding of the logic behind the movement and allows a counter attack in time.In fact, to my taste, the French exposes himself too much, as moved by some blind and almost innocent desire of outer recognition which does never count with jealousy and bastardize.The dissolution of national entities as such with the European configuration does mix pele mele all sorts of fantastic Gudrun’s and hysterical Krimhildes wrapped in Chanel and going to Spanish corridas. To my understanding, and resulting of considerations that are too long to tell, some kind of obvious male jealousy gathers itself around the obvious facility of women to solve a certain number of problems. The problem, mainly in Europe, is that the popular concepts of man and woman are wickedly distorted by a catholic church that pushes women to the borders of inexistence. Women respond with a more active social and even financial activity (XIX th) and you may almost say that the first and the second world war are nothing but the desire of male wanting to reassure themselves as men and warriors. Terrible strategy. They do die all (see the horrible description of Borchert’s soldier coming back from the front) and women have to build, lead, construct and manage. To say, they take away all proper space from man.Around 1950, male lines get reinforced again through business, mainly. It becomes obvious that even if able to work in the mines and keep a tractor, she does not seem to be able to make business. Homosexual are hired in order to regain back natural territories of women (cooking, fashion, modeling, hair dressers, etc.) while the observation that women do not defend themselves very well on certain territories seems to prepare in some surroundings a few horrible traps. The image conveyed for women during the 60ies is malish, as if pushed out of her natural environment into a male world. Both Catroux and Fressange are lead on this road, while others, who insist on a more female role, like Brigitte Bardot, are soon qualified as whores belonging to the extreme right.Once women are pushed out of their natural territory and moving with great easiness in anarchic financial constructions and managing factories as homes for a while, it is obvious that there will be no choice than to push the whole feminism back through some sharp reminders of law. For some, it is obvious that they plan the whole as a trap, others do simply not understand what the whole is about. The difference between the one and the other is visible because the former does use a wrong interpretation of law which may easily be turned against him, but women don’t know about that, and the second just sees in greatest despair whole economical towers and systems regulating values, organizations and thus warrant of peace, fall down in the general pushing forward of inspirations and innovations.It is not to make sexist differentiations, that may put one on top of the other while proving that the other is less, it is that even if wanting, we are to some extent conditioned by hundreds of years of experience that have taught us a surrounding in a general frame of understanding. Women have dealt often with law, but almost never with finances as extremely complex structures that determine value through place and position and allow ordering thus thousands and thousands. If they made thus such an irruption into male territories, which is not unthinkable nor impossible, it was necessary to introduce a ‘teaching phase of observation’, where a woman is put into a surrounding in order to learn about it and differences in behavior slowly integrated into a more general system.The necessity of this results from the obvious misuse of former traditions saying in general that ‘half of the earning is for the wife who’s keeping the house’. This tacit rule and law in Spain until little becomes very soon ‘I’m the one who brings the money, you do what I say’ and the constant misuse of earning in greatest part possible precisely because some one is keeping the house, in alcohol, prostitutes and gambling. After a while the whole becomes so ridiculous as to see women keeping the house, the children, work for an earning and … have to quarrel with judges in order to have the husband’s payment for the children. On top of that they’re obliged to say they’re happy because they’re free and give in to any male’s pretension of abuse in order not be said whore, lesbian or schizophrenic.Fressange is done more or less the same. She’s made ‘man’, quite visible in the series of pictures in in spite of her own nature, and once she’s drawn into a male environment of thought and perception she’s slaughtered by … some interpretation of law, she’s no defense against. In fact she seems to get lost to herself by the constant imposition of models and references that apparently say quite little about herself.This is what I have in the back of my mind, while building up the ‘Chinese’ Fressange. Of course I do take distances from Fressange boy very quickly for one sole reason: Chinese perception is going to understand her as homosexual man, which may be at the origin of further confusions. The market shares concerned by that are neither influent nor important, they’re marginal and without importance. But if she becomes a woman, she’ll be associated to female homosexuality. Even worse. I thus build a bridge to very ancient Chinese traditions, were women warriors are parts of popular imagination and put a slight touch that may attract emerging middle classes of the kind: “because there was none for me.” Resuming in short that a woman has the right to look like a man when men are none anymore for defense. I know that this is a very very old Chinese custom that is hold though exactly there: Taoism does push back with some brutal manners women who arrogantly do leave their common territory but is always fascinated by some strange ‘turlupis’ (I called them) who are always causing greatest fuzz and terror everywhere in a certain way. This may even attract Chinese aristocracy which is quite wealthy but very reserved.It is at that moment that I start asking myself what kind of more universal image may be conveyed that may fit the largest parts of the market. I see clearly that the ‘I was just waiting for some help’ attitude that does not say ‘I’m a woman who can do everything alone’ nor does aggress men in their already quite wounded pride, reassures women though who can’t expect help through a determined cover of the need of assuming male roles if no other solution left and obliges men to determine themselves inside of their roles if they don’t want to become absolutely ridiculous in front of a potential lover, has largest acceptation all around the world.It does hurt national politics that wants to impose itself world wide through the obligation of creating feminists all over. The thing is that this hurts the state much more than it helps. People start defending their own (Muslim and Asian countries) which may even lead to sharpened differentiation of gender determined roles and reject esthetics and thus products that do aggress their own determination. The problem is that the state has almost no resources anymore exactly because this politics is blind. What sells is what reassures, what pleases, what answers to a need. It’s certain that a picture showing some one crying with a teddy bear in his/her arms sells thousands of teddy bears in days because it answers to a general need to express feelings in a certain way, much better than the same teddy bear in the hands of a child.In fact, some may say that I’m a frozen materialist who tries to get benefit of anything. It’s not absolutely true. My notion of market, quite Chinese on the other hand, does associate a product to an idea. This idea has implications on science, religion, love, work, etc. Publicity allows the fixing of a general frame in which people (potential buyers) may move. It is obvious that states don’t like messages in bottles that may aggress their interests and firmly close borders to that. An international product does thus have to consider a  certain number of variables without losing its proper identity.The question is always the same: may you force Fressange into a new image that is nothing but a make up for commercial reasons? I’d say it is herself alone who may thus prove that there are a few who vehicle universal values in deepest logics and whose wisdom can be translated into different contexts without hurting national sensibility.Perhaps the deepest principle underlying the image I’m working at while unconsciously trying to get an answer to problems arisen from blind and absurd strategies is exactly that: I’ve to define myself, and that obliges the careful situating somewhat here, somewhat there until a clear line defines itself.If I manage to do that, I may just impose such an evidence on Inés de la Fressange!


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