Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Do men make passes at women in glasses?

In one passage of Sage's Bad Blood, having quoted some very apt Wordsworth, she rails against the way women in the 1950s-1960s are restricted to the irrational/earthly/physical/anti-intellectual realm, whereas men are meant to be the doers and thinkers (this is in part the subject of my PhD).

Intellectual women are categorised, she says

'unfeminine, unfulfilled, sexless by nature or, the next-worst thing, lesbian, and in any case were only compensating for the fact that no one ever fancied them. Give them half a chance and they'd melt down like those dragon career women in the movies, who purred when our hero took off their spectacles and loosened their scraped-back hair.

This struck a chord. I'm no fan of career women because I'm not keen on capitalism, but it always annoyed me when the spectacles were taken off, as though circles of glass and frames could ever hide beauty. More importantly, the symbolism is disgraceful: you shouldn't read, and you shouldn't look. The gaze is for the searching man, not the woman, who should blink and bask in adoration. You shouldn't think - you should just be, which is what Sage is getting at.

I rarely step into the realms of emotion (other than hatred) on Plashing Vole, but I'll say this: intellect does it for me, and spectacles are - somehow - the symbol for it rather than a sign of failing eyesight. (I don't need spectacles, by the way). Glasses represent nerdiness or unworldiness in male characters anyway. See Clark Kent.

Unfortunately, while my brain is playing me lots of scenes of bespectacled women and men, it's not giving me any credits. Suggest a few movies in which it happens and I'll post some clips if they're available.

Depressingly, if you type 'intellectual woman' into Google and hit images, you immediately get a woman in glasses, from an article on how to date intellectual women. Which tells you all you need to know about men. And the internet.

1 comment:

Sinéad said...

I wanted to post a picture of my favourite tshirt for you here, but I don't think I can do it in a comment box, so here's a link... it always gets a grin. Especially from other people who are wearing glasses.