The Snow Woman: Some Reflections on Masculinity, Morality, and Art
The memory of a not-so-innocent childhood incident prompts Professor Hammond to meditate on the insistently male-centered bias of the Western artistic tradition. By tracing the story of Pygmalion and his statue as it came down from the ancient Roman poet Ovid through medieval and early modern times, he reflects on the story as an example of art’s capacity to establish and reinforce inequities of power relating to gender. Pygmalion’s story became the narrative prototype of the male gaze directed at a female objectified as an artifact to judge, alter, and possess. This ancient-world legacy was responsible for the longstanding prominence of the female nude in the history of Western art. What’s more, it succeeded in making aesthetic appreciation virtually indistinguishable from male domination.