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Advertising and the Women's Movement

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Avoiding eye contact and cowering with her legs together, Aphrodite’s naked pudica pose in the Venus de' Medici ironically calls attention to the areas that she is trying hide, her breast and genitals (fig. 1). The futile attempts to hide her anatomy would be insignificant if not for the pudica’s contrasting counterpart, the male contrapposto pose, shown in figure 2. The nude male stands in a confident upright posture with his head held high and penis proudly exposed. In ancient Greece a man’s penis was a symbol of his strength, intelligence and authority, whereas pudica, “pudendus,” in Latin, means female genitalia and shame. According to Etienne Walla, an expert of Law, and Elisha Renne, who has a Ph.D. in Anthropology, evidence suggests that the Greeks thought a woman’s menstrual cycle proved she was ‘incomplete’. An imperfection only fixed when penetrated, femininity was a defective form of masculinity and therefore shameful (Walle, Renne 58). Ancient art forms advertised reoccurring messages that upheld social standards, and for the pudica’s egocentric male audience the convenient loose attempts to cover her genital disgrace gave them a sense of superiority while her unaware gaze created a voyeuristic experience. Despite the Greek’s second-class portrayal of women, the influence of Aphrodite’s modest pudica pose in Venus de' Medici had an unequivocal prevalence in art history as the reference point for later classical sculptors and one of the worlds most copied Greek statues. Not only did art influence their own social ideals, it ultimately embedded powerful preconditioned notions about gender into modern western societies. In order to show the negative far reaching consequences of the Greeks unequal treatment towards women, ...

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