Body as symbol, Body is symbol



Mary Douglas viewed the human body as a symbol of society, my example may be taking that idea to the extreme as it is the discussion of human body being used as symbols. She presented the idea of matter out of place. Some item that is outside of the context to which we are accustomed is unsettling demarking a boundary and highlighting differing categories in which symbolic ideas are acceptable.


The  article I link to above is a visual representation of both of these ideas. Females on the covers of romance novels are often depicted in impossible positions and subordinate to any males in the images.  To a lesser extent these depictions are exaggerated and impossible for males shown as well. 


What is the author – and to be more fair the publisher – saying about male and females and about their interactions with these covers?  It is an image we can support, is it a reality within our culture or a reinforcement of division and the possibilities that with enough work we could all attain this ideal type?  What happens when we fail?  When the man or woman we choose a the romantic lead in our lives fails to live up to these iconic standards?  More disillusionment and a lack of social cohesion, rampant neuroses, disharmony both mentally and in our relationships, and divorce.


The book sells though.  Often the descriptions of the men and women in the story have no bearing on the cover at all. 


One thought on “Body as symbol, Body is symbol

  1. kevinruiz89 says:

    I don’t think the covers are a reflection of an “ideal” type necessarily. Obviously there is a big separation between the realism of the representations on these romantic novel covers, but it seems to range from an “ideal” to emphasis on physical features that appear hyper-sexual. On the contrary I think it is an appeal to the “classical romanticism”, which can be seen in the covers shown in the article, where the man is representative of strength, power, and bravery all of which are used to defend the honor of the pristine, delicate, beautiful woman. This theme has been popular in western, and some eastern literature, for hundreds of years. And while the association of women with the above characteristics was commonplace in societies for a long period of time, the increased level of equality (although still nowhere near an actual level of parity) between genders over the past decades reflects an idea that these “classical” views still hold some level of appeal. Although it could be asked are the gender relationships in these books an appeal to the woman’s desire to be protected or an appeal to the fantasy of attention and devotion between man and woman which is something highly valued by the majority of adults in Western culture?

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