Women are still marginalized in our society. How? Try to Google the names Kari and Angel. You will see Kari 3.8 and Angel Application as virtual girlfriends. How and why did women become an application in our gadgets? This will be discussed through Linda Nochlin’s essay “Women, art, and power,” which showed the assumptions in women’s representation present in visual images from the 18th to 19th century and the triad women-art-power.
Nochlin asks “Why are there no great women artists?” because great artists were defined by the society – the male society. “What men want is what men is; men’s want defines desire itself.”  The world became a “sausage feast”- men made it that way. Between women and men, what is the big difference? Why were they confined to an ideology which considered them to be mere objects and passive, weak beings – or were they really treated humanely? Why is there an upheaval in gender? Of course, women and men are equal beings – but the situation is problematic.
Women as weak and passive
In Jacques-Louis David’s Oath of the Horatti, the story depicts three men who are against another man who’s protecting the weeping and defenseless women at his back at the right side of the painting. Men were filled with bravery and toughness in this painting, while women lacked these. David assumed the difference of women and men in two words: strong and weak. Similar is seen in Brutus or Sabine Women, the opposition of the feminine and masculine was seen and became self-evident.
Men’s representation on how women are weak is also evident in advertisement. An example is an advertisement from the 1950’s. An American girl holding a Del Monte ketchup bottle saying “You mean a girl can open it…?” She was packaged as a vulnerable being. How does a person become weak? Is it just because she’s a woman? How about military, navy, and weightlifters who are women, can we still call them weak? This is where we can finally put into question the confinement of sex according to gender roles. Are men the only ones capable of being strong? What about women? They are both equal as humans. Intrinsically, both are capable of doing almost everything. What seems to be wrong is that the women have been passive with how men have portrayed them instead of resisting. It can be analyzed that women’s passivity heightens the ego and superiority of men. That is then problematic.
Woman as hero and “wild beast”
Definition of male — There is another type of a hero whose only power is to contain peace in them and to hold the Bible. That is the male’s definition of lady heroes. This is depicted in Paton’s In Memoriam. Their description is how they want women to be. On the contrary, in Goya’s And They are like Wild Beasts, this painting shows who women are, a fighter. The society considered them having non-lady like manners. How about men, if they get to fight and be courageous, can we also call them non-manly for doing that? It is the right thing to do, to fight for what you have and what you believe in. Women were not accepted to act and to think if they do, they are branded as “beasts.” This kind of isolation comes from the status quo highly dominated by men’s ego. Women are isolated and they have to be adherent to the standards presented by men. This possibly highlights the fear of men being overpowered by women. In this case, art has been used to intensify the notions of sex and gender to amplify the sustenance of the male-dominated society. Feminists would then be problematizing the representation since they are represented using the gaze of men instead of being represented as women by women.
Women’s availability for men’s needs
Females were treated like meat sold in the market, made to be bought, and brought anywhere by the buyer (male). Women were treated as objects and commodities. Like meat, she was made to fill the hunger of the male’s desire. This is seen in Delacroix’s Death of Sardanapalus. Women also have their needs. What if men were treated like this?
Another example is having multiple sex partners. Both women and men have sexual needs, but they do not have the same level of reverence. When a guy gets to have sex with a dozen of girls he is edified. If a girl does this, she is called laspag, trash, prostitute, and a whore. Why is it an issue? Women and men are both human beings and both has sexual organs to utilize for their own needs. Heads up for the women who assert themselves and believe that they are still reverent even if they do the same things as what the men do – in short, they don’t even make a fuss out of it.
Also, there is a need to understand that there should be equal footing. In terms of art, these kinds of sexist representations are being normalized. This normalization is then challenged because there is a need to recognize that as humans, all share the same desires and aspirations. This is no longer an issue of striking the male ego but of recognizing the same willingness and capacity for both men and women.
Women as objects and sex objects
Marilyn Monroe, the famous sex icon, was bought, altered, manipulated and marketed. She is a human being, yet she was an object, a commodity to satisfy males’ sexual needs. How would a woman become a creator in this sense? Women do not want and benefit on the view of their own body parts, they also have those and even touch it. This is the reason why there are no great women artists, because they didn’t want to create their own marginalized representation. If they question the society they are branded ignorant.
What could be worse? She has become an object, and now a sex object. Removing her whole identity and focusing on her most sexual part, her pubic area. This is shown in Courbet’s Origin of the world. Men call it art, creative, and meaningful. The painting caters to their dominant sexual need. This piece attracts a guy to masturbate. It is like a playboy centerfold. Courbet’s works are very much erotically stimulating. This work and others (The Sleeping Blonde, The Woman in the Waves, and The White Stockings) are the 18th-20th century version of the FHM and Playboy magazine’s pictures of women- it was just considered high art for the people who assumed that they were the highest beings in the society- the men.
Women are subjects of the male gaze to satisfy sexual desires. There is also a need to understand that women are also capable of triggering the same gaze men does. There is a need to challenge the limitations that men have imposed upon the manner of gazing.
Women as domestic and nurturing people
Wo + man = woman, lad + y = lady, s + he = she, fe + male= female. Woman was a shadow of man. This is how she was made. Obviously, with the words used to pertain to her being is anchored on men. They assumed that women are incomplete without a man. And made her believe that her main purpose is to serve and make the man’s life comfortable. A woman just became a taong-bahay, labandera, and worst some are treated as a factory of reproduction of the man’s last name. This is shown in various advertisements from the 50’s until now.
A more vivid example is Amorsolo’s works which only showed how women were good in laundry, cooking, planting rice, assisting her husband and what else? Nothing more, she is just a domesticated human. For a fact women are not just house keepers, women are leaders, business people, intellects, philosophers, engineers, architects, politicians, scientist and everything man can do. And of course, let us not forget that there is something that men can never do, and that is to reproduce. Who is greater now? Who is lesser now?
The assumptions were given, both sides were weighed out and in conclusion this ideology should be changed. In a more positive light, in the presence of feminists this can be, and is already changing. Although it cannot be done in an instant, for there are still marginalized women in our society who are not yet aware of their situation and how they could alter their state. Again, Feminism has a very integral part in our society which will change various aspects in our realm it will change how and what a woman and art is. Lastly, here is something to think about “Woman without her man is nothing.  ” The punctuation makes a difference, and so are our deeds for gender equality.
Nochlin, Linda. Representing Women. 1999.
Nochlin, Linda. “Women, art and power.”
Gimena. “Critic on Linda Nochlin: Women, Art and Power”
 Linda Nochlin, Representing Women: Courbet’s Allegory, 1999