The perfect woman: Ulysses

The women in Bloom’s life aren’t regarded complexly. Bloom has the inability to place himself in a woman’s shoes. Because of the male gaze and the male centred world view he has, Bloom has no idea what it means to have to try to be an ‘ideal woman.’

Bloom’s relationship with his wife Molly is strained since the loss of a child. “He would be eleven now if he had lived.” (54) Similar to Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf,  children have put a strain on their relationship and it drives them into another lover’s arms.

Gerty MacDowell is a woman who reads magazines and cares about her looks. “A neat blouse of electric blue selftinted by dolly eyes (because it was expected in the Lady’s Pictorial that electric blue would be worn)…”(287)

She is influenced by her world and especially with her disability of a permanent limp, she objectives herself to empower herself, to make her more than a disability and to get a man’s attention that leads to a husband as it is engrained in her culture.

The media has a profound affect on everyone, but in a more harmful way towards women.

Being put in the role of a woman, even in the present day, can be boring with a ‘supporting role. Just as it’s not a good thing to be pitied in life, it’s not a good feeling to have a boring, passive role. Bloom has been put in a bit of a submissive role since his wife has no real use of him anymore because of  this strain on their relationship it has gone so far as they are both bored with each other. Bloom is bored with his mundane wife and life so he looks to a ‘beautiful young thing’ and takes interest especially when interest is taken in him.

Gerty is told to be an ideal perfect woman, a woman without flaws. The media in the magazines she reads are harmful in perpetuating this. The media perpetuates this ideal of a woman even when targeting people in commercials today. Even when there are  gender neutral product’s such as yogurt.

It categorizes woman to be happy and beautiful, listen to happy music and wear frilly stuff all reminding yourself and everyone around you that you’re a woman. There is this code embedded in society that all a woman can be is just a woman.

Bloom, like any hetero-man has a gaze that wanders towards woman, which is because of this code which has been placed in Bloom’s life, that  all a woman is is a woman. He could help himself from the male gaze and from not masturbating on a public beach to a woman. But it’s not only his fault for objectifying Gerty, Gerty objectives herself. Like Olivia Wilde said it’s “how woman are objectified and how woman objectify themselves.” Woman objectify themselves because of this code. Gerty caters to the male gaze because she wants to, because she feels the need to and believe that’s the only power she has, being able to turn a man on.

Because a woman objectifying herself gives her some sort of power it would perhaps be thought of as a good thing an empowering stance, but as comedian Nadia Kamil say “it’s because of the male gaze” that it is not a powerful move.

Bloom’s male gaze makes him unable to relate and understand the women in his life.

Works Cited:

Joyce, James. Ulysses. New York: Vintage Books, 1986.

Nadia Kamil Does Burlesque. Nadia Kamil. Feb 13, 2014.

Scandal: Icarus. Dir. Julie Anne Robinson. ABC, Nov 7, 2013.

Infomania: Target Women. Sarah Haskins. Current, 2009.

Olivia Wilde: State of Female Justice. Olivia Wilde. Laura Flanders’ show, Feb 12, 2014.

Albee, Edward. Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf? 1962.


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