What did I do on IWD, you ask, oh the Founding Mother, the Respected Ancestress, Clara Zetkin? Did I finally start volunteering for the Workers’ Action Centre? Did I write a seminal piece on women as labour force? Did I do my part in developing class consciousness and solidarity among the oppressed groups? Did I at least clean my place, as I’ve been meaning to since the beginning of the month?
None of that, no. What I did was play with images.
Namely, I came across this photo again and was irked by it yet another time.
The composition is so in-your-face male-centric that it inevitably causes giggles. Oh look how firm and strong he is, and how much the woman relies on his firmness and strength. She looks worried, hesitant; he the opposite. So I thought of John Berger and Ways of Seeing (a feminist milestone, written by a man) and what his work taught me about reading the images and paintings, and how women are placed within them.
What of the other CD covers for operatic duets? A mixed bag is what I discovered.
The man dominates in this one:
This one is neutral. What works in her favour is that her eyes are open, his closing:
So Hvorostovsky can be in an egalitarian photo after all. Better with Borodina:
Equals, but why does the woman have to be seated? Because she’s a princess? Because she can’t stand for too long?
I don’t know about this one. She’s towering, but he has the determined look. Her expression is a strange mix of scheming and caring .
Alas, man-dominated, despite the fact that Tebaldi was probably the bigger star at the time of the photo shoot:
This is so ridiculous, I had to include it. Two powerful sopranos made to look like two confused Stepford Wives.
And finally: the one cover I found in which the woman dominates the visual field: