Last night faceCULTURE had the opportunity to attend a talk at the V&A Museum in London, Stephen Bayley - 'Woman as Design'. In some ways this is a lesson to all that one should do the homework before subscribing to the deliberations of writers, but in this case because it was at the V&A my assumption that this would be of worth to attend. I was wrong.
Verging on the misogynistic, this was 70 minutes of disappointing musings on the female form, where Bayley enthused on the objectification of women and continually expounded his glee that he had used methaphors for woman that were architectural or mechanical in his book, also titled 'Woman as Design'. While the audience watched pages from the said book flashing on a screen behind Bayley, it was clear to all that his view of women was peculiar to his own sexual tastes. These were women viewed in erotic and highly sexualized postions, seen from a 'heterosexual male perspective' (his emphasis not mine) - we began to quickly question why he did not incorporate some understanding of how women see themselves. Subsequently the sexually loaded images of fantasy women and the comments expounded by the interviewer and interviewee merely put the writer in the box that says 'old fashioned attitudes'.
This was frustrating, indeed there was no real link to design, apart from a few cursory references to architecture and cars. If this was woman as design, where was the design? Grasping at the concept that women for sale are an aspect of consumerism, that they are firmly consumerable objects whether they are prostitutes or models/actresses, it all amounts to the same thing to Bayley. Andrew and I politely stayed until the end, but we should have walked out like several others did. Ultimately this was a lesson learned - in the words of Public Enemy "don't believe the hype"!
A useful re-evaluation of the female body or a sexy makeover of female objectification?
Link to BBC Radio Four Woman's Hour