Of what does a woman consist? Where does her selfhood reside? In some Platonic form Woman, the theoretical perfection of the breed? If so, we human, embodied women are always compared, found wanting, found always lacking and excessive all at once. Or is she the grotesque creature of bodily function that Aristotle describes? Or is she dangling above the Cartesian mind-body abyss, kicking her little legs like Jane on a vine, or is she Hume’s empty stage upon which perceptions play?
Calvin Klein’s heritage as a brand that attempts to push the boundaries with controversial, sexually-explicit advertisements has seemingly made a return this season with a campaign that serves up a well-worn narrative of ‘men act, women appear.’ The agenda of the brand’s new Spring 2016 campaign is clear: the trope of woman-as-objects sells, particularly through the lens of the campaign’s gritty, filmic aesthetic. It might sound like something we’ve heard before, but the reaction to the campaign – which, amongst other images, sees model Kendall Jenner presented as a collection of Polaroid body parts – has been alarmingly docile, prompting us to reignite the discussion since it’s hard to believe so little has changed when it comes to the portrayal of women in mainstream fashion media.