The Constricting Bodice as Empowerment and Imprisonment?

Angela Fortain, Bodice

“The bodice, the corset and the bra can be instruments of empowerment, or torture.”

                                     – Angela Fortain

In her series “Overt Underthings” artist, Angela Fortain, considers a paradox: Distorting the body can both liberate and imprison, she says. Society dictates constraining fashions which, once dawned, create power over others.

Power over others?

By way of men’s desire, women’s envy.

The power to shape space as others turn in our direction.


Lower status bowing to higher. Standing based on beauty – and what to make of that?

The power to gain love? Or sex? And must one undergo body-torture to attain either?

How might power become less available inside the constrained body?

Are the powers bestowed – or removed – substantive or superficial?

Finally, Fortain muses, “Separating the sensual object that once transformed the wearer into an object of sexuality allows us to examine the object, and our own desire.”

The power of objects… our own desire?

Fortain’s work provokes more questions than answers. As art should.

For more on Angela Fortain’s work go to ARTslant.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 4, 2012, in body image, feminism, gender, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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