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Title: Exposed women and the hidden visibility of male bodies
Other Titles: The contested and the poetic : gender and the body
Authors: Mifsud, Immanuel
Stone, Amanda
Keywords: Visibility
Masculinity in literature
Human body in literature
Gender identity in literature
Maltese poetry -- 20th century
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Inter Disciplinary Press
Citation: Mifsud, I. (2014). Exposed women and the hidden visibility of male bodies. In A. Stone (Ed.), The contested and the poetic : gender and the body (pp. 15-24). Inter Disciplinary Press.
Abstract: The scope of this chapter is to show that bodily representation in late 20th century Maltese poetry varies along gender lines as poets of both sexes have treated the male and female body differently by hiding the former and exposing the latter. While male writers, more often than not, valued femininity and the female body by conferring to it attributes of beauty and myth, they left the male body (especially their own) concealed in a subconscious effort to protect masculinity and male power. Although their female counterparts adopted a different attitude towards the female body (including their own) by presenting a less constructed and more authentic body, they likewise kept the male body hidden by giving only scant details or projecting it as inaccessible. The invisibility of the male body, however, is betrayed by the male writers’ frequent references to the phallus (which becomes a synecdoche for male power and masculinity) and to their sexual avidity. An interesting exception is the representation of the sacred Christian bodies. In this case the writers’ attitude is somewhat reversed for it is the Madonna’s (female and very feminine) body which escapes depiction, whereas Jesus’s body is continuously exposed and portrayed. These observations will be compared and contrasted to examples from visual culture, drawing mainly on gaze theory, with particular reference to the feminist school of thought. The classic theory of male gaze advanced by theorists such as John Berger (art) and Laura Mulvey (cinema) will be revisited in the light of recent social and cultural phenomena, which have started to seriously question the claim of the agency of the male gaze with all its consequences on the representation of the body.
ISBN: 9781848883291
Appears in Collections:Scholarly Works - JCMal

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