I where the inspiration for Carrie’s honest social

I have chosen to focus on female diarists and not mention
arguably the most famous, Samuel Pepys because outside of being historically
informed, the blank diary as an object is decidedly delegated to women. The
marketing of diaries is primarily focussed on young girls, drawing on
hyper-feminised design elements for sleeves including, but not limited to: use
of pink or pastel colours, butterflies, flowers, gems, hearts and princesses. Organisers
and office planners do have more variation in colour scheming but are still
predominantly feminine, shades of red, pink and purple, with the alternatives
being luminescent or black. Mainstream media enhances societal condemning of
masculine emotional freedom and expression of any form (diaries are private) by
both the frequent portrayal of women and lack of men regularly using a diary or
similar device, in films often accompanied by a first-person voiceover
narration to simulate inner monologue. This trope is found in ‘chick-flicks’ in
many different ways, often a revelation of the diaries contents will induce
negative consequences for the author such as conflicts within intimate relationships
or a more generalised temporary social outcasting. In Mean Girls a group of
teen girls collate a ‘burn book’ to manifest spiteful accusations and
criticisms regarding others who attend the school in which they are
self-proclaimed royalty. Evidently, a series of events transpire that see all
of them ostracised from their peers, yet all find redemption ultimately. In Sex
and the City, lead female Carrie Bradshaw constantly has to withstand the
strain of her innermost thoughts ruining her personal life, specifically the
trials and tribulations of dating. A freelance writer, Carries diary entries
take form within her column for the New York Observer and alongside being
published provide the storyline and narration for each episode so the audience
can follow where the inspiration for Carrie’s honest social observations stem
from. Aside from getting Ms Bradshaw into trouble within her TV series, it also
garnered negative reception from critics deeming the character as narcissistic
and self-centred. (FOOTNOTE)  It is not
Carrie’s thoughts that inspire negative assumptions about her; it is her
recklessness with displaying them outside of their inherently private domain.

Angela McRobbie has taken issue not with Carrie’s unapologetic declaration of
self but with the focus of her diaristic content; the fantasies and anxieties
surrounding ‘traditional forms of happiness’ and loneliness that subscribe to
being with or without a man. Carries commercialised sexual anxieties of the
90’s see her posing questions within her narrated articles such as:

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‘Are men in their twenties the new designer drug?’

‘Is there a secret cold war between marrieds and singles?’

‘In a city of great expectations, is it time to settle for
what you can get?’

‘Has monogamy become too much to expect?’

‘Is it better to “fake it” than to be alone?’

‘What are the break-up rules?’

‘Can a relationship bring you back to life?’

‘Can even the hottest relationships stop cold?’

‘Are there still certain things in a relationship one should
never say?’

‘Do you have to play games to make a relationship work?’

‘Just how dangerous is an open heart?’

‘Do we need drama to make a relationship work?’



McRobbie puts forward that although not ‘rabid
anti-feminist’ ideals lie in the premise, feminism has been taken into account
and implicitly or explicitly disregarded as the character asks ‘what now?’
therefore normalising post-feminist gender anxieties so as to re-regulate young
women by means of the language of personal choice. In the same essay, McRobbie
refers to another “post-feminist” fictional protagonist, Bridget Jones.

The film Bridget Jones’s Diary reimagines Jane Austen’s
Pride and Prejudice (adapted from Helen Fielding’s novel of he same name) and focuses
on endearingly clumsy in love Bridget as her life whilst recording thoughts and
events in a neat red diary.


What diaries do and
achieve for women


Diaires contain a vast ranging manner of topics about the
self that are free to be explored within the privacy of the page. From
detailing strained relationships, insecurities and secrets, infatuation

They also contain narcissistic



Diaries enable women to subvert emotional trauma and
micro/daily aggressions through construction of their own narrative.



I can only speculate as to how the effects of diary writing
work within those of non-white females because there has been so little
research done and little published.



‘even a self-effacing or monotonously repetitive
diary embodies a marginal form of resistance against prescriptive notions of
female silence and exclusion from the literary world; as Blodgett again puts
it, such a diary “by the daily time that it claims for itself, counters the
patriarchal attack on female identity and self worth”.’ (Sarah M Edwards)



‘The diary form has in recent decades been employed
as an aid in psychotherapy; many women use the diary as private therapeutic
tool, in diverse forms. Some use the diary to preserve a sense of identity and
the patterns of everyday existence during a period of upheaval: examples
include wartime diaries …





In 1986 rosika parker and Griselda Pollock


In Re-Viewing Modernist Criticism, Mary Kelly


     ‘In performance work it is no longer a
question of investing the object with an artistic presence: the artist is
present and creative subjectivity is given as the effect of an essential
self-possession….according to supportive critics….the authenticity of body
art cannot be inscribed at the level of a particular morphology, it must be
chiselled into the world in accordance with direct experience. The discourse of
the body in art is more than a repetition of the eschatological voices of
abstract expressionism; the actual experience of the body fulfils the prophecy
of the painted mark.’ (Reviewing modernist criticism Screen, Volume
22, Issue 3, 1 September 1981, Pages 41–52)




Kelly also comments directly on the image of the woman,


     ‘when the image of the woman is used in a
work of art, that is, when her body or person is given as a signifier, it
becomes extremely problematic. Most women artists who have presented themselves
in some way, visibly, in the work have been unable to find the kind of
distancing devices which would cut across the predominant representations of
woman as object of the look, or question the notion of femininity as a
pre-given entity’ (“No Essential Femininity: A Conversation between Mary Kelly and
Paul Smith.” Parachute 26 (1982): 31–35.)


Though Kelly herself
presented her body in 8 years prior in Antepartum, 1973 (image and footnote) and
her diary entries found in PPD explore her emotions concerning femininity and
the role of the female and motherhood.



Amelia Jones acknowledges that Kelly’s critique was “highly
strategic at the time in that it served well the purpose of legitimating a
rigorous antiessentialist feminist art discourse and practice,” – a need for
work like Kelly’s to be made.







The radical feminist must aim to
resist visual pleasure, according to Griselda Pollock, a key thinker in
feminist theory. Implementing and adapting Bertolt Brecht’s theories of
distanciation to break the seductive bond between spectator and image,


making the spectator an agent in
cultural production and activate him or her as an agent in the world (footnote).  This model for Pollock is crucial because objectification
within consumerist capitalism is patriarchal.

For Pollock, work that does not
distanciate is not effectively feminist.

If Brecht asks ‘how should we
alienate them?’ Mulvey asks, ‘who is (already) being alienated?


Bertolt Brecht’s theory of
distanciation was adopted and developed by british feminists as a model: the
radical feminist practice must aim to displace and provoke the spectator,
making him or her aware of the process of experiencing the text and preluding
the spectators identification with the illusionary and idealogical functions of
representation. Framed within this discourse are Laura Mulvey and Griselda



As body art practises solicit rather than distance the
spectator and they also elicit pleasures it is clear to see how Feminist
critics believed this form to be corrupting.

seen by Marxian critics to be linked to the corrupting
influence of commodity culture. 



Judith Barry and Sandy Flitterman “it does not challenge a
fixed and rigid category of ‘femininity’.”














The majority of articles on Hannah Wilke’s work begin with a
comment on how good-looking she is. (Barbara Schwartz”art:Hannah wilke”, lil
picard”Hannah wilke sexy objects”, noel frackman :h.wilke”

This reinforces the patriarchal idea of the gaze, they
should know better than to objectify her and then lay the blame on her.


“Wilke’s self-exposure, which translates as some kind of
rhetoric of sexual freedom for women, is too facile, too simple a formulation.

The work of artists like Cindy Sherman and Aimee Rankin has shown female
sexuality to be the site of as much apin as pleasure. The culturally acceptable
forms of abuse of women have been giving way at a painfully slow rate,
rendering Wilke’s position both problematic and out of sync. (Catherine Lui
“hannah wilke” artfourm 28)


These criticisms are based not on the work but on the
interpretation of Wilke being too generically attractive and taking pleasure in
performing herself, Wilke’s intention is not acknowledged and her association
with 1970s feminist practice sees her labelled essentialist.

She has been deemed naïve and so therefore her work must be


Quote about wilke on her work


By favouring Cindy Sherman over Wilke I am pressed to
differentiate between these two female performative artists other than




By labelling these works as
narcissistic we label them not worthy of serious attention and reading.


Elizabeth Hess


Wilke Accused of regressive
feminine narcissism by critiques and feminists alike.


“narcissism – the
exploration and fixation on the self – inexorably leads to an exploration of
and implication in the other: the self turns itself inside out, as it were,
projecting its internal structures of identification and desire outward. Thus,
narcissism interconnects the internal and external self as well as the self and
the other.”


Emotion= bad


Simone De Beavoiur, “it has sometimes been maintained that
narcissim is the fundamental attitude of all women… Woman not being able to
fulfil herself through projects and objectives, is forced to find her reality
in the immanence of her person. ”


“men can us beautiful, sexy women as neutral objects or
surfaces, but when women use their own faces and bodies, they are immediately
accused of narcissism … Because women are considered sex objects, it is taken
for granted that any woman who presents her nude body in public is doing so
because she thinks she is beautiful. She is a narcissisit and Ancconci, with
his less romantic image and pimply back, is an artist.” Lucy lippard