Woman Artist–Whore Model: Why Is The Archetypal Story of “The Red Shoes” (Still) Controversial


The essay takes up the assumption about the tenacity of the archetypal motif of red shoes and its artistic and theoretical reworking, which highlights patriarchal presumptions of a culture aggressively cutting women down to fit the size of their social roles or, conversely, promotes its subversive potential as a site of feminist awakening, leading towards a space of freedom, nurturance of one’s own identity, and towards realizing one’s right to artistic creation and autonomy. Contrary to prevailing interpretations, which include patriarchal stereotypes of rebellion of a girl/woman against the entrenched order and hierarchy, punctuated by punishment in the film version of the red shoes story or in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, several artistic articulations with feminist undercurrents by artists such as Kate Bush, Anne Sexton, Amy Lowel and Rosemary Sullivan have been presented here. The artistic reworking of this motif by the aforementioned women artists always points to a dynamic need of women to analyze and question what relates to their existence. Our task in analyzing Andersen’s fairy tale “The Red Shoes”, the most famous variant of the motif, will be to uncover the mechanisms of managing women and inducing desired behaviour, which is metaphorically rendered by way of a complex theoretical notion of women’s authorship. The correlation of these motifs has been observed through the binary docility/ punishment and at the axis of creating figures: docile girl/ domestic angel and rebellious girl/ woman author– whore. Deconstructing the motif of the red shoes through the parallel with female creativity indicates the challenges faced by the woman artist and the need to constantly oppose oppressive cultural discourses sustaining and buttressing misogynist attack on woman’s need for articulation and autonomy

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Last time updated on 10/12/2021

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