to start things off
lets assess the
arty artificiality of
women
as
google reveals it for us –

distorted images of reality
are
               first up amongst
1,250,000 results returned
within .33 seconds,
are
               praised for glamour,
are
               worshipped by fashion,
are
               critiqued by Dominguez as
artificial, damaging & absurd.

i
have never studied the
psychology of women (thought
being one &
reading them was
enough) though
you have made me think i
might be missing out – –

as an
exercise in exposé
i
lie on the floor in
the middle of the street,
matching myself to the
contours of Pejic for Gaultier,
Delevingne for Vogue, anticipating
reaction –

vagueness is personal,
who am i
today?

angled and unbalanced with-
out a professional’s
frame

                                        an elaborate excess of
                                        skin and material,
                                        swathed & styled to
                                        convey -

i.am.awkward

poses not meant to express
reality
of women;                  a group of
twenty-something’s laugh;
someone shouts;
men stare for all the wrong reasons – good!
               i do not match up to
pin-up presentations:
i’m the
uglification of woman,
modeled in opposition to
femininity – –

__________________________________

i wonder,
what would you
make of me were we to
meet mid-afternoon in the
summer wearing pants & a
tank top revealing tattoos you so
obviously despise?

already i tick at least
three of your must-be-avoided boxes &
fuck! my lips are a bright-red-
slick-of-self-expression so
that’s immediately four – no, wait – five,
because i swore in the way you insist only a
sailor (always male) should do…

apparently the
art of being feminine really is
an art after all – &
one that must be cultivated if
we wish to enrich the
loveliness of our sex & maintain
a particular kind of
attraction which is
               for some
all that we
modern women
require.
               apparently, it’s
‘alright for women to
exercise their ‘masculine’
side in the business world, but
when it comes to relating to
men, femininity wins
every time’,
& even Hakim wishes us
erotic & sexed &
competent in both
business & bed & i am
starting to get sick for women
doing themselves down as they
dress their bodies for charming honour amongst us all &
if these feminine traits are a necessity to womanhood then you can
count me out – –

__________________________________

i am beginning to
agree with de Beauvoir when she
undresses the myth:

               ‘we are not told that femininity
               is a false entity, but that the
               women concerned are not feminine’

quite the revelation for
1949, considering we are
still today buying into
products that promise the
f-word result which
even Wikipedia agrees is a social
construction at best.

it is true, one is not
born woman, but rather becomes one – even
Butler is inclined to concur on the surface
with this, recognizing as she does the
radical challenge for women to reinterpret
the cultural history our bodies already wear.

somewhere in the midst of reading
Judith by bed-light, i am reminded of
the masquerade,

the mask
of made-up faces
decorated with
cosmetic effects of
who we aren’t &
yet appear to be –

we
see it in films all the time, a lady
framed facing the mirror, applying
the face she presents to the world,
trusting in make-up to erase the signs of
her natural identity. i too buy into the
aesthetics of artificiality, own concealer &
falsies for those elaborate nights out, rely on
the highly-contested Maybelline Eraser to
disguise the dark circles & fine lines its advertisement
so cleverly hides by

                                                                      airbrushing
the model in question;

take a lookgo on – then
let me welcome you
to the world of binary oppositions
in which our flaws are juxtaposed with
the very same skin upon which
imperfections have been made to miraculously
vanish.

now
don’t get me wrong, i think
Christy Turlington looks
amazing at fourty-four years of age – in fact she has
many of the assets attributed to the image of the
‘ideal woman’, but
once again
it would seem that this accepted
standard of beauty is in large just a façade that
heavily Photoshopped images have helped to
promote & sustain – –

__________________________________

further down
in my quest for the
artifice of femininity on the
superficial worldwideweb i
arrive breathless at the
‘beautiful’ excess of a female artist – though

google refuses to play with that term &
directs me instead to
The Beautiful Fall         :
                              fashion, genius & glorious excess in
Yves Saint Laurent & Karl Lagerfeld

who indeed created
model impressions of the
                                                                                ethereal
                                                                                picturesque &
                                                                                cutting-edge, though
neither came close to the
embellishment of Orlan in all her
surgically-altered & elaborately staged dress;

               some say she is grotesque but
you have to admire the classic
theatricality at play, splicing Botticelli’s Venus
with Boucher’s Europa in such an
aesthetically-displeasing way.

her work reminds me of the time we saw
a copy of the Mona Lisa graffitied-up
on an indie-club’s toilet wall: a
mustache above the intriguing smile &
curlers in place of her hair  – i
liked her better that way; a bit of drag, no
longer just a portrayal of natural beauty – but
this is 2013 &
both the V&A & The Met have acclaimed
Renaissance exhibitions on display so
i return to the images online of Orlan, both
in awe of the cultural pressures imprinted
into her flesh, & unsure of the self she has
cosmetically constructed-by-design.

you see,
the thing about women & identity
is that there’s a precedent already
in place, but taken too far
all we are left with is a deconstructed,
Pygmalion effect &
a plethora of shifting identities – –

__________________________________

so i find Johanna Burton next through
google, who is incidentally just
a few websites away from
artifice, the self, & art & by
using Cindy Sherman she
eagerly prompts us to recognize
the codes by which identity is
constructed & conveyed, along
with the artifice underpinning it all.

i
saw her first
in a white robe, barefoot with
straggling brunette hair
&
glimpsed in her Plath’s
Esther Greenwood, another
troubled woman who couldn’t
perform the socially-prescribed part

               like her, i consider myself to be
               somewhat neurotic – destined to
               fly back and forth between
               one mutually exclusive thing &
               another for the rest of my days, though

in this photograph Sherman isn’t exactly
herself – she is masquerading;
                              just one of the myriad of characters her
Untitled Film Stills portray, so Baudrillard &,

fuck, you’re the most exciting simulacrum to
draw my gaze towards museum & gallery
walls to date, i do not even wish to see
beneath the mask; you fascinate me in
whichever parodied-way you appear.

she looks like
women in the movies
dated in the 1950s, each of them
blessed with their very own
mise en scène
refreshing even to critics
who only like portraits if the face is
never revealed

which i suppose is almost true here;
you see,

Sherman-the-model is disguised in character,
Sherman-the-artist reveals the character’s masquerade.
such juxtaposition refers to a surfaceness,
nostalgia dissolves into unease &
the artifice of feminine identity is
once again
exposed – –

__________________________________

after we’ve dissected identity
& considered the possibility of
mispronouning in a too tightly bound
gendered age, i dare to ask why Andrej Pejic’s
revelation of chest is obscured by two of the
largest bookstores while men everywhere are
worshipped posing top free & sexed & shirt less & this
– you suggest –
is just one of the problems of androgyny, femininity &
bodily obscurity.

again
i take to google

to explore my qualms & find
a bitterly cisnormative article on
howtobefemininein9stepswithpictures, 6 of
which are scantily clad & doing
nothing to help dispel the
image that all women are just
reducible to sex, though after
quoting Haraway in my
boxers beneath Schilt and Westbrook
in my dress, i am no longer certain the
state of being ‘woman’ can be found –

i am not so naïve as to
believe Rich’s dream of a
common language is even remotely
fulfillable, but a language that
resists all urges to conform to
the one set-code of meaning is
surely a requirement in the
age of femiman, hetero, homo,
whatsevennormalanymore & queer –

i
watch you walk the runway on TV &
let you alleviate
this weight of attributed roles;
i call you by whichever name you
choose when you

come back and strip off
all artifice of performance,
revealing a greater blur of
identities than during
any catwalk before – –

__________________________________

after all of this
ruthless re-searching i
come across a blogger
who denies that
womanhood is a construct
or a disguise, taking
their argument & tying it in
nicely with Wilde when he achieves literary fame
in saying

‘being natural is simply a pose, &
the most irritating pose I know’

perhaps – they suggest
we have foolishly accepted the notion that
females are an elaborate costume; poses &
aesthetics & dalliances,
menageries of inscrutable
excess.

perhaps – they suggest
we should instead consider
how hinged to reality
any of this
really is.

but
my insistently-feminist side
is unable to dispel
de Beauvoir & Butler & Riviere &
artists like Sherman who have
relentlessly exposed or expressed
theories supporting femininity as
masquerade, construction & artificiality & so

before the light fades for
the night i read subjects of
sex/gender/desire
between the sheets &
rethink the revelation of
i as i configure it here
in cyberspace

i certainly would not rather be
a cyborg than a goddess, but
underneath the hypertext &
wordpressing tools i am
artificialised in many respects & so
the eyes behind this
technologized mask are
concealed from your view, only the
i i choose to reveal makes its way
past encoders & routers &

– in truth –

i prefer it this way – –

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