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English 1101504 - Statue of David
by Michelangelo.
This statue displays the
ideal physical appearance of a males body as well as
embodies the ideal social status, dominance, and power


of a man.

Gender in the Arts

What is art? According to MerriamWebster, art is the
conscious use of skill
and creative
imagination especially
in the production

Estimated to be
20,000 years old,
the cave painting of
Lascaux are
considered ancient
master pieces
because of their
quality, size, and

of aesthetic objects.
What is good art? Well, art can come in various mediums, forms, and themes; it can
also be interpreted in many different ways.
Art is a key aspect to many of the resources we use every day. Such as
architecture, fashion, and food; art can be applied in almost everything we do. So, how
does art effect our idea of gender?

In order to answer this question, we must break down what the word gender means.
According to Judith Butler, gender is a subconsciously performed role one plays within a
society that helps shape and change cultures. Or in other words, it is an influential
illusion. This role that individuals take on is a societal construct that is created by the
members of that culture. This is based off the social norms and pressures a culture
presses and in return, causes an individual to take on an identity or gender. From
there, the individual acts out this identity and solidifies this idea of gender within a
society. For example, men do not cry, so men act tough and strong and teach their sons
to be as well. Butler also claims that when people do not fit these social norms, they can
be treated as outcasts or abused by the rest of the society. Such as people who have
been undermined for their sexual preference and identity. Butlers idea of how to solve
this problem of gender intolerance is to create more awareness of what gender is and
how it is created. She suggests that educating the general public about other genders
and identities will make us aware of these groups and work to making the public more

Now since art deals with the aesthetics, a way to change the way art influences our
society negatively is to change the content of the art we produce. Instead of having the
art embody the beauty and ideal appearance of a human, it should embody the average
human. Or even better, it should embody the differences within our cultural groups. This
will not only create a beautiful image of equality, but it will also help pave a way for the
future to become more accepting and aware of the many groups we have within our

The Virgin Mary. This painting was

created around the 15th century and is
painted on the painted at St. Catherines
Monastery in Egypt. This painting
represents the Virgin Mary and everything
she symbolized: Purity, chastity, and
salvation. You will notice she is holding a
child, this represents motherhood and

Art has influenced society since the

beginning of humanity. Since the Middle Ages, people have been painting, drawing, and
sculpting images of other influential creatures and people. During the middle ages (5 th15th century) art was mainly focused around biblical references and the ideal image of

these supernatural individuals. Since the church and the king had almost equal amount
of power, the art revolved around these two themes.
The Sistine Chapels ceiling is filled with beautiful works done by Michelangelo. These
works represent biblical themes that show how the ideal gods were supposed to look:
fit, beautiful, and unworldly.

In American culture, these

themes of being pure and
maternal are considered typical

traits of the average woman. However, within recent times, women are starting to
change the social norms and pressures of what a real woman is.
In the 1940s-1950s during World War II. Rosie the Riveter was painted by Norman
Rockwell in 1943. His message was an iconic piece was meant to influence women to
join the work force during World War II. Since most of the men were away fighting,
America needed workers to help fuel this war, so women broke the gender role and

stepped into the working force. This influenced American society because as of today,
many women are involved in the working world compared to 60 years ago.