Is gender hierarchy implied in how male and female bodies are depicted?

March 6, 2013

“Men Walk, Women Pose: The Gender Politics of Silhouettes”
On the Sociological Images website, sociologist Lisa Wade shares some observations about the different body-language messages conveyed in graphics depicting male and female bodies. After you read this, you’ll no doubt find yourself looking for more examples. Be sure to click on the links within the article to see actual examples that underscore Dr. Wade’s point, along with additional commentary. The examples she includes are a school identification badge, medical textbook examples, movie posters, and even the image of a man and woman that was designed for the “Pioneer Plaque,” carried on Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, NASA’s first interplanetary spacecraft to probe space beyond our solar system. The plaque, full of symbols, was intended to convey a pictorial message about who sent the spacecraft and from where, depicting human beings as friendly creatures in case the spacecraft were intercepted by extraterrestrial beings.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni is an independent scholar, writer, and editor. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992).

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