Woman as A Face/Thighs (More Elaborately – As A Face/Smile and Thighs/Legs)

Bellmer was perceived by the art audiences not so much as an artist but rather as a personification of male sadism towards the women (of course, he had a narrow group of passionate enthusiasts admiring him for the same wrong reason of being fixated on erotic sadism). Human psyche is calibrated in a funny way – what is perceived as problematic or ambiguous has to be reduced in such a way that the observer would feel morally superior in comparison with the one who is observed (for example, the artist and his work). But art is not identical with the complexes of its maker, more – very often it’s artistic inspiration where the artist finds himself. In other words, he invents what becomes his artistic ”complexes” – his topics and style. The artist finds himself (becomes himself) not in life but in… art. It is his imagination, not his existential container becomes the magic of his pencil or brush and paper or canvass. And it’s already ambition and responsibility of his art to penetrate life – to find itself in it and to help viewers to make existential sense of the work.

Hans Bellmer’s “Destiny”

What a springy combination of movements/dynamism of limbs of the female body, making the macho man’s heart – beat as if, before jump to nowhere with an impossible hope to wake up in a better world! Butterfly-like gesticulation of thighs/legs as if they are arms/hands! Gesticulation of involuntary resistance and defeat! Is Hans Bellmer laughing at us or he is touching the tip of our dream, much more primordial and incomparably more universal than the “American dream” or that of becoming a millionaire and billionaire.

The very torso of the female body – between face/neck and thighs/legs have somehow been swallowed by Bellmer’s drawing – the soft and resistant (like a consoling swamp during drought of everyday life) feminine flesh which, as if, exists for being held by the male’s bones and muscles during intercourse – doesn’t need, it seems, to be visually represented. Of course, it has certain relief challenging climbers, and the appealing energy emanation, but this is less important than its “function” – to be leaned on, relied upon: creating in males the feeling that they’re categorically in charge of their sexual satisfaction.

But the smile (of the feminine smooth-skinned face) is fundamental for providing male sexual ego with a minimum of self-confidence to perform/project/inject himself into the porous screen of femininity. And so is the shy grimace of pain which, for macho taste should be fused with smile (exactly like Hans Bellmer represents it) to enhance male confidence even more. Smile without pain will be quickly felt by the male as insincere or even sarcastic welcome. The readiness of the female object to suffer is necessary to persuade the macho man that he is really desirable and safe in his irresistibility. Man’s ego needs sacrifices, just positive woman’s readiness is not enough, more – it will be perceived as always ambiguous and suspicious.

Man’s sexual ego is not confident and for this reason – macho demands unconditional acceptance – it’s impossible even to imagine that macho-groper will meet “his match” – a woman who’ll give him a lesson and squeeze his arrogant vulnerability in response. The macho’s psyche is ravaged by complexes, because for him to reach sexual culmination in his – narcissistically dominant way is psychologically a very complex process (too much of the reality must be despotically controlled – to perform sexually he needs to be treated by the woman at least as a Duke). To resolve it successfully it’s necessary to impregnate his performance with a highest degree of emotional indifference and despotic/aggressive posturing. The womanly face (welcoming the male subject with a smile mixed with pain from the male’s mechanical penetration) turns on the feminine thighs/legs’ pantomime which simultaneously invites and seduces the macho to perform and at the same time is hypnotizing him to do it without reservation/hesitation. Yes, even in her dependent posture, the female object finds a way to take a manipulating – hypnotizing position towards the male subject!

We come to the main and the bitterest problem for the macho man with female object. While on the obvious level the woman does not challenge the male subject’s dominant position, she “with her twisted witchy mind” finds a way not only not to resist the macho’s domination, but… to take pleasure from her situation in spite of it! Like a masochist outsmarts the sadist, the female object simultaneously resists, seduces and finds her own jouissance in her sexual responsiveness to the male in the very dance of tights/legs she ecstatically uses as arms/hands to manipulate/hypnotize the macho male and take full pleasure from it, “like Gorgon with her hairs, like an octopus with her tentacles, like Black widow with her webs”. What we see in Bellmer’s “Destiny” is a paradigmatic knot of macho perception of female object.

Woman’s thighs/legs acting as her sexual organs’ hands/arms (observed by the male gaze from all the angles) is the strongest visual aphrodisiac created by the human nature. But at the same time it’s the basic phobic object for the macho’s psyche. Female body’s chaotically moving thigs/legs refer to the male’s victory, but in macho perception they are also moving arms/hands threatening/dangerous for man’s security. The both aspects of feminine thighs/legs-arms/hands create the very flood of sexual stimulation and the potential for the macho man’s future defeat.

The fact that Bellmer depicts the woman’s face, neck and tights as though covered with sheer fabric is, it seems, the reference to the hymen – the carrier of the spirit of virginity. While physical hymen is important in inter-gender relations in concrete situations, it is a psychological hymen what is of overwhelming importance in macho perception. Hymen is really a magic object for a macho man – for him woman must be psychologically a virgin. Even a harlot must emotionally “play virgin” to make the man able to sexually perform successfully – to do so he needs to feel with the woman the first, the only, the ultimate man. According to Hans Bellmer, woman’s hands as hands must not look as important for sexual rapport – for macho man it is safer to have woman without arms and hands. The male must feel himself not in a barn but on the stage, woman must not to emphasize her human status by showing her “animalistic” naked feet.