The use of tense
One of the writing techniques that the author has utilized extensively is the use of tense. In particular, the author has made use of the present continuous tense in the majority of the work. The use of the present continuous tense normally is used to indicate that something is in progress now. However, in English, the definition of the present depends on the context. For instance, when talking about someone in school, we can say that Susan is studying chemistry at school. However, it does not mean that at the very moment she is at school studying chemistry. An indicator of something is in progress now although it could have begun sometime in the past. For instance, events that have happened in this century can be considered to have happened in the present although the century is already 16 years old. Instead of using the simple present tense, present continuous tense is used to indicate that the activity began some time ago but is currently in progress.
In this text, the author uses the present continuous tense to show that the issue being discussed has been in progress for a long time and continues to be discussed in the present. The discussion about the issue is also likely to continue for some time in the future until all the contentious issues are sorted out. In the text, the author introduces us to the beauty myth. The beauty myth has been in existence for a long time. The author guides us through the existence of the beauty myth at work, culture, religion, sex, hunger and in violence. In each of these instances, the author begins with a history of the issue in the specific setting. The narrative then continues to how the issue continues to raise major questions in the modern world. The use of present continuous tense helps the author to carry the message from the past and still show that the issue is relevant in todays modern world.
An example of the use of the present continuous tense in the text is the first paragraph of the chapter about work. The author begins by making the following statement; since men have used womens beauty as a form of currency in circulation among men, ideas about beauty have evolved since the Industrial Revolution side by side with ideas about money, so that the two are virtual parallels in our consumer economy. A woman looks like a million dollars, shes a first-class beauty, and her face is her fortune. In the bourgeois marriage markets of the last century, women learned to understand their own beauty as part of this economy (Wolf, 2008). This is a very important statement for the author to convey her message. Although the author is referring to something that began long ago, the use of the present continuous tense shows that the issue is still an ongoing issue.
A second example of the use of present continuous tense is found in the second paragraph on the introduction of culture. The author makes the following statement; This pattern, which leaves out women as individuals, extends fromhigh culture to popular mythology: Men look at women. Women watchthemselves being looked at. This determines not only the relations ofmen to women, but the relation of women to themselves (Wolf, 2008). Although the author is talking about something that has been in existence for a very long time, she uses the present continuous tense to indicate that this is an ongoing issue. This statement is a mix of both historical occurrences and occurrences related to those historical ones that are continuing in the present time.
Another example of the use of present continuous tense to illustrate that something is ongoing is shown on page 34 of the text. The statement reads: Her employers had counted on going unchallenged because of the reaction such discrimination commonly instills in the victim of it: a shame that guarantees silence. But Metromedia, she wrote defiantly, was wrong if they thought a woman would never admit to having been told she was ugly. Her account proves how this discrimination seeps in where others cannot reach, poisoning the private well from which self-esteem is drawn. This is a statement that shows the writer referring to an event that took place in the past. However, the use of present continuous tense shows that this is still something that is still ongoing.
The use of themes
The second writing technique that the author utilizes is the use of themes. Although the novel is titled the beauty myth, it is really a discussion about prejudices and discrimination against women. The author is able to expound through this theme in the different chapters with each chapter covering an important area where prejudice and discrimination against women is present. For instance, the introduction of the book talks about the authors experience with the issues the book is addressing. Other women who have experienced the same issues are also included in the introduction. After the introduction, the next chapter explains the beauty myth, what it is and how it has affected women over the years and how it continues to affect them at present. The next chapter about work expounds on the same theme of the beauty myth and how women are discriminated against at work as a result of the myth. The next chapter talks about culture, again explaining the role of women in culture and how this is discriminatory against women. The next chapters are about religion, sex, hunger, and violence. In each of these chapters, the author expounds on the theme presented in the introduction, how women have been discriminated against and continue to be discriminated against because of the beauty myth.
For instance, in the chapter about violence, the author addresses the issue of pain with the statement; because women are deformed to begin with, we cannot really suffer deformation. Because we are gullible by nature in search of beauty, no deception is a scandal (Wolf, 2008). By using the theme of discrimination against women, the author is able to further her argument. The use of themes as a writing technique is very effective but only when used correctly. The author introduces the theme and subsequent chapters all work towards addressing the theme although they would look like completely different issues on their own. The ability of the author to combine them into one theme is what makes this an effective argument. After her argument about the beauty myth, the concluding chapter is titled beyond the beauty myth. One of the statements in the first paragraph of this chapter is; the idea that a womans body has boundaries that must not be violated is fairly new (Wolf, 2008). This statement is a continuation of the theme that the whole novel has addressed in its entirety. However, this chapter is meant to give a way forward towards addressing the problems raised in the entire novel.
The use of the present continuous tense throughout the whole text is very effective. The book mainly deals with issues that happened in the past. Many of the injustices against women have taken place in the past. If the author used the past tense, it would have seemed that the issues were historical. However, the use of the present continuous tense shows that although the issues started taking place in the past, they are still an ongoing concern at present. By highlighting that the issues continue to be experienced even in the modern day, the author challenges the reader to examine themselves in order to address these issues.
The use of the theme of beauty and how it has and continues to affect the discrimination of women is also very effective. The topic addressed might sound to be very complicated to most people. Many people may not even understand what the author initially meant by just looking at the title of the book. Many people might also not be aware that what they do or experience is discrimination because it is so commonplace. However, the author arranges the book by addressing the main theme in chapters and sub-topics. This makes it easy to understand the point that the author is driving at.
The breakdown of the main theme into different chapters and topics also helps the message to pass across more easily. The two themes used by the author are therefore very effective in passing the message she intended to the reader. The use of the theme across the book is meant to deconstruct the entire myth into a theme that can be easily understood by people. For instance, the author connects the use of silicone breast implants with the beauty myth. The statement: When The Beauty Myth raised the alarm about siliconesand the surgerysside effects, there was very little general awareness of its dangers. Now, more than a decade later, silicones dangers have been all too thoroughly documented. Breast implant manufacturers were faced with substantial legal action, and thousands of articles exposing the dangers of silicone implants have been published since the mid-nineties. By the year 2000, silicone breast implants had been taken off the general market is an example of the user deconstructing the complex theme into understandable topics.
Despite the work being very effective in addressing the issue of discrimination against women mainly because of beauty, the author appears to be biased. The author is biased because she mainly focuses on the wrongs women have experienced across history. However, she rarely mentions moments of triumph for the movement. The work is also biased against men as being the culprits behind the objectification of women. Although the author mentions that women are also responsible for some of the stereotypes against them, it is barely a footnote in the whole book. However, this bias can be interpreted as deliberate by the author as she tries to convince the reader to take action to correct a very dire situation.
Wolf, Naomi. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used against Women. Pymble, NSW: HarperCollins e-books, 2008. Internet resource.
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