The Masque of Femininity: The Presentation of Woman in Everyday Life (Published in association with Theory, Culture & Society)

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9780803988071: The Masque of Femininity: The Presentation of Woman in Everyday Life (Published in association with Theory, Culture & Society)

This innovative book explores the construction of femininity in Western society. Drawing on a range of theory, empirical sources and original research, Efrat Tse[um]elon examines the role of the visual - of fashion, the body and personal appearance - in defining the female self.

Tse[um]elon′s argument develops concepts in understanding the meaning of female presence: modesty, duplicity, beauty, seduction and death. Femininity is analyzed in relation to these themes, using insights from sociological, psychological, historical and literary frameworks. The book demonstrates how normative conceptions of feminine essence, which have persevered from Eve to Madonna, become the requirements of appearance for women. Referring to the

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About the Author:

Efrat TseŽlon is a lecturer in the Faculty of Cultural and Education Studies, Leeds Metropolitan University

Review:

`[An] interesting, informative and thought-provoking book' - Body & Society `Tse[um]elon is able to offer her reader a multifaceted understanding of how femininity in Western culture is projected, received, shaped, and experienced.... this book is an impressive example of cross-disciplinary scholarship.... This book should be read - not only as an excellent model of throughgoing cross-disciplinary studies, but for its frequently brilliant cultural insights' - L'esprit Cr[ac]eateur Efrat likes the last bit of this review (Sociology) best, use from tseelon's sensitive analysis onwards... `Previous authors have studied fashion and standards of beauty as key elements in social constructions of femininity. Tse[um]elon adds to this body of work and begins to fill a gap.... Tse[um]elon placed advertisements in three UK women's magazines to find participants for a survey on the meaning of personal appearance. Each respondent was asked how circumstances, her sense of self, and the judgements of others affected her decisions about what to wear. The book is much more than the results of Tse[um]elon's survey. Tse[um]elon, a social psychologist, calls the approach she employed "cultural psychology". She situates her research in a broadly defined cultural context, drawing upon readings of a wide variety of texts, ranging from apocalyptic Enoch literature to the relatively contemporary film Stakeout.... Tse[um]elon's sensitive analysis... allows the reader to see how women cope as best they can with impossible demands. Shedding light on the meaning of appearance in women's lives and providing a provocative framework for looking at the larger question of construction of the female self, Tse[um]elon advances beyond what has been said about beauty by other writers' - Sociology `This book is a fascinating and comprehensive exploration of the construction of femininity. Tse[um]elon has a wide ranging knowledge of literature in this field referring to work from Freud, Lacan and Ernest Goffman, to Anne Hollander, Wendy Chapkis and Naomi Wolf.... Tse[um]elon's approach is from social psychology. I would like to assure those of us who do not work in this field that her approach does make it a "heavy" read - her wide use of many sources (such as fairy tales and contemporary women's magazines) ensure that the book is a thought-provoking read throughout.... Overall, this book raises many interesting points. Its primary argument is that appearance is gendered to use as a form of social control and that "beauty" (a hard-won, temporary concept with constantly shifting requirements) never delivers all that it promises (happiness, acceptance, etc) and would best be described as a stigma symbol rather than as one of prestige.... Tse[um]elon's approach of using a critical and feminist eye through the ages is a refreshing one. the book would be of use to anyone in the fields of women's or cultural studies, social psychology, or as a book to browse simply for interest' - Women's Studies Network (UK) Association Newsletter `[A] readable analyses of the social construction of femininity... refreshing' - Choice

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Tseelon, Efrat
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