At 74 Tina Turner (aka Anna Mae Bullock) on the cover of Germany’s Vogue magazine has reset some expectations – or has it?
She looks impossibly young for 74, as if gravity or elastogen deterioration were some urban myth – and light, free flowing, straight tresses and a very overall pale golden colour, she looks very different from her photos of the 60s and 70s
Is this cover breaking barriers? Or maintaining the status quo? What is the message to young women? older women? and men? What are the effects on identity?
I find I am quite exasperated reading academic work on gender or sexual representation.
There is much discussion about male and female representation in medial culture, in addition to homosexuality or heterosexuality. Everything in neat binary categories.
One category if you have certain chromosomes, a penis and testes and another if you don’t. One category if you are attracted to the same sex and another if you’re not.
And all the while lamenting on the ‘marginalized’ of society and how communication and cultural studies should seek to emancipate individuals from oppression.
Isn’t this a little hypocritical when in reality there is an entire spectrum of sexualities and genders that are not being acknowledged in academic discourse? isn’t that oppressive?
Indeed even the language used in such discussions “opposite-sex attraction” implies a binary.
When we are born we are defined as ‘boy’ or a ‘girl’ on our government paperwork that will be used for the rest of our life.
When we are in public spaces, we have to make a decision on whether it is more acceptable to use the ‘men’s’ toilet or the ‘women’s’
When we are given forms we are asked to tick one of TWO boxes: M or F.
When we are in social situations, if we are not attracted to a member of what could be perceived as the ‘opposite-sex’, it will be assumed that there is only one alternative.
It is endless…
Media culture representation discourse focuses on men or women, gay or straight and discusses the aetiology of these artificial social constructs, but not the continuum of alternative possibilities.
Gender has nothing to do with binary categories or medical dictionary definitions and sexuality is far more complex than just “who “you are attracted to, or if indeed you are attracted to anyone at all.
Our society needs some additional constructing apparently, because the limited binary role models we currently have are not adequate or inclusive.
Who we are, who we identify as, is affected by our biology, and our environment. Our gender and sexuality reflect the complexities of these relationships that two simple categories do not adequately encompass.