Master of Fine Arts
It is well known that Western society uses men’s visual pleasure as a means to determine womxn’s value; her success is dependent on her compliance with culturally determined beauty standards. This process turns womxn into commodities and reinforces notions of gender complementarity, perpetuating a lifetime of servitude to patriarchal ideologies. It reminds the non-male that she is incomplete, insufficient, insignificant, and so easily dismissable. It forces her to be dependent, to shut up, to sit down, and to enjoy it.
In an effort to reject these presumed histories and narrow connotations of womxn, I have analyzed my gender performance in contrast to societal expectations. This thesis is informed by a collection of gendered gestures sourced from mainstream media, and pop and rock songs. The gestures referenced are culturally coded in femininity which are fortified through the male gaze, prevalent in cinema. Through material-based processes characterized by disassembling and then reassembling this content, I explore the benign and at times insidious underlying messages of both current and historical patriarchal power. This process has been an active attempt on my part to unlearn institutionalized gender normativity, heteronormativity, and this society’s expectations through conscious acts of refusal. I consider this defiance to be an ongoing act of self care, of personal maintenance and of accountability. This process can offer me insight into how my own desires challenge the culturally predetermined mind-set of non-men as secondary and how I may be complicit in perpetuating this thinking. In this written complement, I dissect components of my personal narrative as a womxn by exploring gender theory, material culture, and mass media. This analysis of cultural grooming distilled from my chosen materials informs my creative production. The result is an experiential exposé that unveils the sacrifice and labor demanded of politicized bodies.
© Paige Lizbeth Morris
Is Part Of
VCU University Archives
Is Part Of
VCU Theses and Dissertations
Date of Submission
Available for download on Saturday, May 17, 2025
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