Dreams, Cinema and Gender Ideology in the Mirror

Gertrud: Male Erotic Fantasies and Gender Stereotypes

In Representing the Woman: Cinema and Psychoanalysis, Elizabeth Cowie views gender ideology as a fetish. Not only does the fetish write social and gendered reality, it rewrites it to relieve the erotic anxieties caused by sexism, loss, rejection, betrayal, abuse, and rape. The fetish structures sexual fantasies of men and women. Since fantasy is not only the domain of pleasurable wishes but also of the fear of punishment for one's desires, representations of desire become shaped by ideologies.

Cowie discusses a scene from the film Gertrud, directed by Carl Dreyer. Gertrud, the female protagonist, recognizes a picture as one she saw in a dream: "I ran naked through the streets pursued by hounds. I woke up when they caught me." Cowie interprets this dream as a male body-ego/image paradigm for visualizing women as naked and subject to brutal male desire." Gertrud feels pursued and persecuted by men's gaze, who see her as a sexual object of their animalistic (hounds) desire, leaving little room for other aspects of herself. The film's romantic plot has a subplot in an escape from gender stereotypes. The film sets aside the patriarchal fables of the ideological punishment of the woman who does not know her place.

Film Noir and Anatomy of the Erotic Dream

In literature Eugene Sue Mysteries of Paris uses a film noir (read article) type character who can navigate and investigate all the layers of society. Sue employs the metaphor of prostitution to reveal and expose the truth hidden beneath the thin venier of appearances of 19th century Paris. The IIDR has posted numerous interpretations such as Confessions of a Porn Addict and Mysteries of Femininity describing how to navigate the depth psychological cultural mappings of the oral and literary history of planet and the global village, its' nations, cities, neighborhoods and homes.

Many dreams, sent to the IIDR speak to us about how this nightly dream audience is polarized in their erotic attitudes by pro- and anti-censorship platforms. Whether they are called the Mysteries of Athens, London, Paris, Rome, Washington, Moscow, Tokyo, Peking or Zuerich the erotic-pornographic dream platform remains archetypally the same one.

Linda Williams in her essay Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess provides an anatomy of film bodies, especially those body expressions found in pornography, horror and melodrama. The spectacle of the body is expressed in all three genres, pornography features the orgasm, horror portrays violence and terror, while melodrama is known as the weepie. Learning the culture industry's language of the body begins before the child is born, before the child develops a coherent theory of mind. Body image and erotic expression is culturally received, learned, influenced and patterned. The cultural anatomy of body expression is revealed in the anatomy of the erotic dream.

The Culture Industries, Pornography and the Grotesque Body

Shannon Bell in Reading, Writing and Rewriting the Prostitute Body sees in the prostitute's body an allegory of modernity: "The prostitute appears as a commodity and a mass-produced article." The Victorian patriarchal body politic, especially in medical-legal-moral discourse, harmfully dissociated the sacred and the profane of the female body. Emily Martin's Woman in the Body: Cultural Analysis of Reproduction describes the process by which women are alienated from their own bodies and self-images as a result of dominant social, religious, ideological, and medical metaphors that reflect patriarchy and capitalism.

In United States, the poet Anne Sexton, who committed suicide in 1974, wrote Transformations a subversive adaptation of Grimm's fairy tales from a woman's perspective. Linda Nead The female Nude: Art, Obscenity and Sexuality, comments that; "Anyone who examines the history of western art must be struck by the prevalence of images of the female body. More than any subject, the female nude connotes 'Art'." We can see in the female nude (read interpretation) a societal visual and visceral schism between the female body image viewed as art, or viewed as obscene.

The culture industry's female body viewed as art reinforces the erotic unity and sublime integrity of perception and the imagination, while the obscene (or grotesque body) supplies unfulfilled arousal. The concepts of the obscene and the pornographic are intimately related, Nead tells us what her argument is; "that the policing of the boundaries of pornography is not simply a question of controlling the sexual content of images, but amounts to a regulation of audiences of images." Dreams reveal the schizotypal "harm" caused by this polarized culture industry platform of the erotic imagination and psychological costs of the obscene and the pornographic on individual relationships as well as on societal ones. The archetypal erotic dream platform that in part makes the world go round every night, shows us that when our relationships are devoid of caring, intimacy and authenticity our being has been degraded and depersonalized to sexuality best described as sport (f......).


All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.