The Handmaid's The Act-Like-A-Man Box

765 Words 4 Pages
Black and white. Men and women. Most would agree that the pattern between these different terms is that they are all opposites. While in definition, it may seem so, it isn’t so black and white. The gray area is what is explored in Caruthers’s collection of photographs, Tryouts, and Kivel’s piece, The Act-Like-A-Man Box. Our textbook definition man and woman is represented by Fragonard’s painting The Swing, and Atwood’s depiction of her main characters in The Handmaid’s Tale. All of these texts lead us to believe that one’s personal identity is dependent on the portrayal of gender in media. The perception of men as strong, aggressive, powerful, successful, and independent can be credited to it being a constant theme in texts. In The Handmaid’s …show more content…
Especially in visual texts where women are often depicted as fragile, beautiful, and flirtatious. In Fragonard’s painting The Swing from 1767, he depicts an image of what the stereotypically attractive woman, colored in pastel and curvy lines. The woman is gazing down at a young man. The young nobleman also looks up towards the woman, leading up her flowing dress. She is being pushed by an older man. Surrounded by men without any say, she is toyed around with and objectified as she is inferior. In Ryan James Caruthers’ collection of photographs, Tryouts, he takes what is generally accepted as masculine and challenges it by portraying it in a more feminine light. With rosy cheeks and soft expressions and poses, he shows a different image that does not fit in with our generally accepted definition of what is manly. When the gender roles of women and men intersect, it does not immediately mean one gender is in the wrong. In both of these texts, they will be regarded as pretty or beautiful despite the subjects of one being male and the other being female. The need for a female to be feminine and a male to be masculine should continue to be challenged without the need for labels. If a man is more feminine than masculine, does that make him less of a man? Why is it that a woman with more masculine characteristics is more inferior to a woman with feminine characteristics when femininity is seen as a weakness? Gender roles overlap, but the media mostly shows one side of each gender that then categorizes them as opposites.
Gender roles shown in media can impact society’s perception of the norm. We can either reinforce these boxes we create by continuing to create and interpret media as it is now; or we can deceive our subconscious selves from falling into the same mindset that is ingrained in our brains of gender roles so we can challenge how we choose to view and construct all that is around

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