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Everywoman - Really?

Dec. 1, 2020

Photograph: Jill Mead/The Guardian

Mona Eltahawy, a feminist author, who describes herself as a "commentator and disruptor of patriarchy" has written with feeling about Maggie Hambling's claim that the naked figure in the Mary Wosllstoncraft commemoration is an 'everywoman". In a discussion about the uses of the female nude in western art she says Only a white woman can so blithely say “everywoman” in the year 2020 and offer a slim white nude as its prototype" Put in the context of a country whose historic colonising and Victorian prudishness has shamed the natural nakedness of colonised peoples, and used it to diminish them, this claim of an everywoman as naked and white is ironic, to say the very least. She also questions Hambling's assertion that  “As far as I know, she’s more or less the shape we’d all like to be,” One can only wonder at whose version of the "ideal" shape she has bought into? Dissapointingly, it seems like the one sold to us by a patriarchy that profits from the continual attack on the many natural shapes of women, all pressured to conform to some impossible standard that can be sold clothes in tiny sizes and be made to feel forever not quite "good enough".

https://feministgiant.substack.com/p/for-mary-wollstonecraft-the-white