A Choreographic Exploration of the Objectification and Empowerment of Women
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Mainstream American media is currently bombarded with countless images of objectified women. From ad campaigns for Victoria’s Secret to music videos of popular songs, the female body has become a strong and effective marketing tool. The constant inundation of this imagery may encourage women to value certain ideal yet unattainable standards for their bodies. Although some feminist scholars encourage women to reject any participation in such performances of femininity , these radical suggestions may also overlook women’s rights to make autonomous decisions in regards to their physical presentation, and ultimately, their lives. For my thesis, I wanted to explore through dance the experience of women in the 21st century who exist in a society in which their gender is exploited and objectified. My initial desire was to create a choreographic work that critiqued the extensive hyper-sexualization of the female body. After reading about exotic dancers and other women involved in the sex industry, I understood further the complexity of this issue. Although women who dress, act, and move in sexually provocative ways operate as objects of male desire, many of these women appreciate their involvement in the industry for its financial rewards and their own empowering, pleasurable experiences. Inspired by dance from contemporary music videos, my choreography begins with movement that reflects how the female body is often represented in the media today. As the dance progresses, the performers begin to show certain negative psychological effects that can result from their representation as only sexual objects. Finally, the dancers begin to interact with each other in other ways, showing the mutual support and connection of the group. My intention is to depict the complexity and depth of each individual, regardless of her physical presentation or her lifestyle. However, as the ending of my choreography presents, society’s objection of women is continuing and inescapable.