“The woman who checks her make-up half a dozen times a day to see if her foundation has caked or her mascara run, who worries that the wind or rain may spoil her hairdo, who looks frequently to see if her stockings have bagged at the ankle, or who, feeling fat, monitors everything she eats, has become, just as surely as the inmate of Panopticon, a self-policing subject, a self committed to a relentless self-surveillance. This self-surveillance is a form of obedience to patriarchy. It is also the reflection in woman’s consciousness of the fact that she is under surveillance in ways that he is not, that whatever else she may become, she is importantly a body designed to please or to excite. There has been induced in many women, then, in Foucault’s words, “a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power.” (Foucault, Discipline and Punish, p. 201.) Since the standards of female bodily acceptability are impossible fully to realize, requiring as they do a virtual transcendence of nature, a woman may live much of her life with a pervasive feeling of bodily deficiency. Hence, a tighter control of the body has gained a new kind of hold over the mind.” (Bartky 1997:107-108)

Bartky, Sandra Lee. 1997. “Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power.” Pp. 93-111 in Feminist Social Thought: A Reader, edited by D. T. Meyers. New York: Routledge.

The Panopticon
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