The object itself is represented as it were obtruding itself for our enjoyment while we strive against it with all our might. And the artistic representation of the object is no longer distinguished from the nature of the object itself, and thus it is impossible that it can be regarded as beautiful.
The object that intrudes is the body of the teenage girl — simultaneously the site of desire and pity. The representation of the the object is the selfie. That young women express feelings of shame and disgrace upon realizing the pressing requirement of femininity is built into the Young-Girls’ place in the hegemonic structure of capitalism. The Young-Girl is the model citizen of contemporary society not because we worship her, but because by expending her energy on the cultivation of her body, her potential as a revolutionary subject is neutralized. If young girls are the hated bodies of capital (along with immigrant bodies, racialized bodies, LGBT bodies, etc) then they must also be predictable bodies; that is why we spend inordinate amount of money on emphasizing the important of beauty, the importance of fashion, the importance of youthfulness and desirability and individuality. If the best way of making your womanhood legible is to adorn your body in a particular way — whether femme or punk rock or teeny bopper or whatever — then there is an injunction to perform that work. Women who do not do that work, particularly teenage girls who ‘opt out’ as it were, face social repercussions far more meaningful than some 40-year-old dude calling them narcissists. We elevate the work women do on their bodies to the utmost importance, and then punish the outcome of that labour. That is how hegemony works.
8:57 pm • 8 March 2014