Bodies and identity: Reading Masculinity on the Body

What is identity?

We discussed what identity meant we came up with what you look like and who you are compared to someone else. For example when I look at my sister I don’t see me.

Mirror is the only representation of ourselves.

We have a relationship between the body and our identity.

We share some of our identity with others like our clothes and taste which are some of the things that give us a similar identity.

We use social media to identify ourselves given people a better version of ourselves with information we want them to see.

We all share the same identity at the start and the end of out lives in the way we look the same. Baby are hard to identify in sense of gender which is why baby clothes are heavily generalised. Which is wear colour comes in a lot when kids are younger using pink for girls and blue for a boy.

Toilets are highly how we identify our selves in the sense of gender but what about those people that don’t identify themselves as a particular gender.

Heteronormativity (warner,1991)

Belief that the society os built upon strict norms of different genders (male and female) and that heterosexuality is the ‘norm’.

When a thing is defined as normal anything outside that definition transgresses the norm i.e homosexual, transexual etc.

We looked at representation of male identity

Where henry the eight hid his illness in painting picking the better version of himself.

Key words 

Hegemony : leadership or dominance, especially by one state or social group over others. leadership; predominance. (especially among smaller nations) aggression or expansionism by large nations in an effort to achieve world domination.

Oxford English Dictionary :-Political domination

Binary  : In mathematics and digital electronics, a binary number is a number expressed in the binary numeral system or base-2 numeral system which represents numeric values using two different symbols: typically 0 (zero) and 1 (one). The base-2 system is a positional notation with a radix of 2.

Oxford English Dictionary :-composed of two parts, maths computers of or in a counting system with only two digits 0 and 1

Hetenormativity : Heteronormativity is the belief that people fall into distinct and complementary genders (man and woman) with natural roles in life. It assumes that heterosexuality is the only sexual orientation or only norm, and states that sexual and marital relations are most (or only) fitting between people of opposite sexes.





Regulating Bodies

How are bodies controlled?

The Panopticon

The panopticon is a type of  institutional building designed as a type of prison by the english philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century.

The idea was the idea of visibility to be seen or not be seen. The fact that this building had a prisoner cells arranged around the outer wall and the central dominated by an inspection tower. This tower could be watched from at anytime but the prisoners  themselves would never be able to the inspector himself.


The theory was the new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind. The mind is assuming that the governor was alway watching the inmates. The inmates would modify their behaviour and work hard in order to avoid punishment as they would never know when they are being watched.

This is related to the body in terms of control and the different ways in which the body can be controlled.

In the past religion was a main cause of control because of the concept of going to heaven or hell this would be if you committed a sin such as sex. The panopticon was seen as a way in which we could control the body through a form of physiological control. This would then modify the body’s behaviour. The design would insure they had no idea when they were being watched at many given time but they knew there was alway that possibility.

In our day we could link the panopticon with CCTV. The difference is although we all know its there people are not as bothered by it as the panopticon.

Object vs subject 

Bodies can be objectified this then allows itself to be controlled by someone else and can be owned this mean it isn’t free and communication is only one sided.

We all in a way as a bodie are objectify ourselves in a sense of “selfies” which is a common thing in todays day and age. Once the photo is taken we display this on social media for example and allow others to look at it. We try and put up the best version of ourself online only given someone a snap shot of your life. We are controlled through social media which is mainly photo based. We want others to see us at our best. We therefore edit out photos with filters or to edit out blemishes. This is similar to the painting of people in the olden days. tHey portray the best version themselves like henry the eight never portray the side of his leg which is infected.


Overall .. 

The body can be controlled in more than one way. It’s seems to us that we are a free human being and we aren’t controlled but reality is that we are. There are a lot more expectations now with social media.  We also allow our selfs to be controlled even from a early away we were controlled by time in school.



The body in art and design

We use selfies to portray our bodies. We give people a sense of how we want them to see us with a selfie that is a better version. We use selfie to change our appearance to make us look better by using a filter. We all think about the angle we use and the lighting and where we take it.

img_0023 I used the angle of this selfie and the background to make the selfie look better. I don’t use filters to make my images look better. When taking a selfie you make sure that you look your best portraying to people on social media that, thats what you always look like. I feel that girls can use makeup to also cover there true identify but also use filter to make them look the perfect self.

Why don’t men wear skirts?

This was the question we asked ourselves at the beginning of the lesson. I first thought was it just because they don’t want a label.

We imagine as a body that we are entirely ‘free’ because of out root in society we don’t have to be back at anytime and the police aren’t keeping us inside our home. We are considered a subject that has vast rules which control our body.

In the body were controlled a lot more by

Religion, suppression of appetites actual and sexual i.e sin also the concept of heaven and hell. This idea was known that if you were good you would go to heaven and if you didn’t follow the rule you would go to hell.

Panopticon is the idea of a prison with a tower in the middle. The idea is to control the body because of being constantly watched. He is seen, but he does not see; he is the object of information never a subject in communication. We were given the idea visibility is a ‘trap’. In the modern day CCTV is watching us at all time trying to control us into doing the right thing. Also social media is being watched by anyone and can stop people from getting job if the wrong thing is posted.

We are a subject and we have object such as a cup this is passive and can be owned. It is never the owner and is not fee it cannot communicate or  it can only do so in one way. We as bodies are the subject we are considered as free and have a powerful freedom. We do not need a owner and can all communicate freely.

This idea of control as a body has happened all through out life even know we are considered as free. We at a early age had the school system where we were controlled by time and being places on time. We are also controlled by health care you don’t have to go to your jabs but you are controlled in a way that it is the right thing to do for your health.

We were then given the idea of the car and had to discuss how the car controls the body. We came up with the idea that you are controlled by others in car in a sense that if they stop you have to. You are controlled by the law in a way that you have to go the speed limit and follow things like the high way code in order to stay healthy. Your body does control the car but in a sense the car controls you in a way the you have to change gear for it work. It also has control in the way of your freedom as you have to take a test to be able to work a car.

This all lead up to the question why do we expect men and women to dress differently. Men dress up as women but for a act. Women dress like men in the sense they wear trousers. In the past women didn’t wear trousers it was seen as a sign of disrespect. Women are seen as more free in what they can wear. It is again a control in the way that they can’t wear what they want because of this idea of a label.

The Body in Art and Design

What would we do today if we had no idea what was inside the body, this was the case there was a time when the body and how it works was unknown. This was because opening a body was going against God. We now live in a world where we do all sorts of things with our body and even change the way it looks with cosmetic surgery, prosthetic limbs and tattooing tphe skin.

In our first lesson we went into the history of the body and how people were unaware of what was inside and didn’t know what to do with the inside of a human body. Things such as plastic surgery were used in the war to recreate face injuries and almost create a mask.

After we looked into the body’s history we were asked to look at how the body connects to our chosen subject area and how things I create can link. My subject being graphics I thought about things like sign post on a road like stop or turn left these are all direction that we read and our body reacts to them.

Graphic design is linked to the body in more ways than you would think. Even a magazine or a book is making the reader need to turn each page.  If it wasn’t for Graphic signs aScreen Shot 2016-10-19 at 19.22.49.pngnd directions are need to guide the body around. We used signs like the picture below to direct us tell us where to go. These sign help as we read them our body reacts and follows.