Aged Desire

This photograph speaks to an intersection of lack of sex and desire. The pelvis is so associated with sex because, you know, sexual organs lie in the area present in the piece of art. The cobwebs point to potentially a lack of desire associated with this person because their sexual organs haven’t been used in so long that cobwebs have developed. At least, that’s what the picture implies. There seems to be a lack of sexual desire associated with this picture because of how the cobwebs turn the sexual organ into something no longer functional or valid because of its lack of use. But the image still speaks to a functional desire because clothes are being removed, implying some form of use. The removal of clothing could speak to how the body parts are still in use, just not in a sexual fashion. A lack of desire is most prevalent in the image because of how cobwebs imply that the viewer should interpret the sexual area as less than sexual or desirable.


Mechanical Desire

This image combines a few things that relate to gender performance and desire. Initially, we see a woman potentially within an accentuating metal suit, or she is made from metal with a humanoid body and face of flesh. I’m not really sure which it is, but the combination speaks to desire and feminine performance.

The humanoid here appears to be wearing wearing distinctive eye shadow, lipstick, and other forms of make up. She has wide set hips and protruding breasts, which are symbolically linked to femininity under the cisnormative assumptions bred into us. To add to the performance of femininity, her stance seems inviting and seductive, potentially to attract the viewer. Her hands surround her pelvis which is covered by a shawl, nodding to a form of desire associated with whatever may lie beneath the shawl, even if it isn’t genitalia. In terms of desire, her look and stance speak to the invitation the sexualization of her character. This reminds me of “Crash” because of the mechanics associated with desire to create a potentially sexual image.


This is about the documentary, Kink, on Netflix. The film brings the viewer into the world of BDSM pornography through a behind-the-scenes look at the production and individuals who are a part of the business. It’s a very honest and open documentary and doesn’t hold back on showing anything; I don’t recommend it to anyone who has difficulty watching scenes related to BDSM. The important thing to examine from the film through a queer analysis is the individuals themselves. The directors who are filmed attempt to explain what exactly BDSM is and how it does not follow many of the stereotypes that are perpetuated about it. These people that are involved with BDSM porn–who make a living out of it–do not consider their identities as being comprised simply of that. However, they do fall within the queer community.

From a heteronormative perspective, what they’re doing may be considered degrading or harmful (especially towards women) but a queer analysis creates a different interpretation. Because BDSM is a controlled environment which is all about mutual respect, a queer perspective would give women agency and power in that situation. Many of the women who partake in BDSM feel empowered and confident, not only with their sexuality; it allows the individual to lay out specific guidelines to what is and what isn’t allowed, which is conducive for a healthy sexual relationship.

Sexuality and Femininity

This speaks to the concepts of femininity, sexual desire, and heteronormativity.

From the application of the lipstick and painted nails and make up, one can assume that this is a woman applying the penis-shaped lipstick under cisnormative assumptions. The desire of the piece comes specifically from the application of a dick shaped tube of lipstick. The proximity of the phallus to the mouth nods to fellatio which is highly associated with sexual desire. No identity is necessarily indicated here, but the feminine desire of phallic masculinity is present here. It speaks to a heteronormative assumption that women want men and want to please them with fellatio. The behavior, associated with desire and identity, is the placement of the penis near the mouth. The behavior of fellatio and desire of pleasing masculinity as a feminine person interact to point to a heteronormative and patriarchal assumption of a woman as the pleaser and giver of the relationship, instead of being in the dominant position of the penis. The woman becomes the object under the objectification of phallic masculinity.

Gender Performance

A male-bodied person stands, hiding his face and genitalia.  The picture is in black and white, and flowers cover the background. His body is additionally covered by flowers. His hair is distinctly short and ungroomed. I can’t be entirely sure, but there appears to be a flower crown around his head. His hand is positioned distinctly to hide his eyes, and the shadows that surround his body are very distinct. The flowers all appear white and innocent. His body is thin and lean, yet  hairless and appears to be soft.

This piece is making social commentary on the ideals of gender which are conditioned into our heads. I use the male pronouns “he/him” when referring to the person within the picture because he does not appear to have breasts, and I presumptuously apply a masculine gender to him. The image combines the traditional masculine form with feminine traits. The hiddenness of the eyes shies away from the idea of the male gaze under patriarchy. Under phallic masculinity, the penis would represent the power of the person, but again he hides what I assume to be a penis beneath his hand. The image is not inherently sexual, but more so gendered. The flowers are distinctly feminine in order to further the questioning of the gender of the photographed person. He embodies feminine traits of belonging to the private sphere, being hidden, and being soft and hairless. Yet his short hair on his head, his arm hair, and his lack of breasts speak of maleness. I assume the work of art intends to force the reader to question what the gender of the photographed person is. Again, I am speaking from my background of an American Studies major with a focus in gender and sexuality.

Female Gaze not valued

A woman appears in front of a soft, gray background with three primary color boxes blocking her view. She wears bright red lipstick, has her hair done in a very fashionable way, and wears earrings. Her jawline is distinct, as is the shadowing surrounding her entire head and neck. Her hair is very detailed and you can almost see each individual strand. She is blonde. She appears to be wearing makeup, specifically blush to highlight her cheekbones. Her eyes and forehead are hidden by the artist.

The feminine appearing person, who I assume is a woman, embodies traditional femininity. From the blush to the lipstick, to the earrings, to the short blonde, Marilyn Monroe-esque hair, she appears as a woman. Her eyes are hidden, which I think is intentional. Drawing from my own background as an American Studies major with a focus in gender and sexuality, I’m seeing social commentary on the male gaze. The woman’s gaze is blocked because it is not valued by society. Through conversations we’ve had in class about abortion and gender, we’ve acknowledged that women are oppressed. This image highlights that oppression by acknowledging that the woman’s gaze is unvalued and hidden. Socially, her gaze is unimportant, and this artwork could be related to current political issues surrounding the wage gap or abortion rights. The male gaze is clearly valued over a female gaze from this image.

ATLA and Transgender Characters!

Watch from 11:53-12:22!

How does a transgender person navigate the dangerous route of gender performance? It’s up to the individual, but in “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” there is a scene that potentially indicates a transgender character named Smellerbee navigating the discomfort of being misgendered by a well-intentioned individual, Iroh. Though Smellerbee is a minor character, fans have nodded to the potentially progressive nature of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” with its inclusion of minorities from varying racial, class, and gender identities. The presence of Smellerbee allows for increased visibility of a minority subject, specifically transgender women. From being misgendered, we see a distinct aspect of gender performance and reception in place between Smellerbee, who is misgendered, and Iroh, the man who misgenders her. When Smellerbee is misgendered, her solution is to leave the situation, and her friend follows her to console her. The situation of being misgendered speaks to a presence of notable gender performance as defined by Judith Butler, and Smellerbee’s reaction to being misgendered creates a specific survival strategy of a suppressed minority beneath a “phobic majoritarian public sphere” (Muñoz).