Free Essay on Susan Sontag's Essays, A Woman's Beauty: Put-down or Power Source

Published: 2019-12-04 19:17:57
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Susan Sontag is regarded as one of the leading critics and debaters on issues regarding women beauty (DiYanni 19). In her essay, A womans beauty: Put-down or Power Source, Sontag offers a comprehensive discussion about whether the beauty of a womans external can influence the internal beauty. In the essay, Susan argues that people have resorted to viewing women as the combination of both the inside and outside beauty. While this is evident and clearly depicted, people are still fascinated by the woman who is beautiful, good and talented. The idea of beauty is something that gotten from the Christianity perspective and is presented to stand for women, just like people use handsome to provide the description of the males. In the essay, Susan provides an exposition of the manner in which a woman is often subjected to a state of being obsessed by the beauty of certain parts of the whole of her body. Through this, she argues that the elements of the handsome for a man may not be perfect as they may think. Sontags essay is highly dependent on the idea that beauty is universally recognizable but does not present the explanations about the manner in which beauty should be discerned. This paper recognizes the strengths of Sontags essays but will provide a comprehensive analysis concerning the flaws presented in the attempt to discuss the concept of beauty among women.

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In her essay, Sontag does not provide the vivid explanation on the way this beauty can be discerned. Beauty, according to Sontag, provides a presentation of a crude trap that women fall prey to various things, such as the anticipation to be more concerned with an outward appearance than with the inner character. About this argument, she finds the tension that exists between the inner and the outer beauty misleading, because women are told to put more emphasis on their physical appearances, but later subjected to blemish even after deciding to do so. How cheap is it to begin by undertaking a definition of women as the caretakers of their surfaces? Ideally, while it is notable that Sontag provides an illumination of the modern way in which beauty should be defined, the segregation of both the interior and exterior is just a mere phenomenon that she claims and assumes emerged under the influence of Christianity. This is based on the fact that the Christianity defined the beauty in a separated, gender terms, and positing that a woman must be beautiful and through this beauty, she loses her capacity to be objective, professional, thoughtful and authoritative (245, 246). As a new woman, she is observed as the human mask, which unable to think and lacks personality. At this point, therefore, the measure of her beauty exclusively dwells solely in her physical appearance.

The explanation of the manner in which the beauty can be identified is another sensitive thing that emerges tough to discern in Sontags essay. Ideally, the opaqueness of the author may be useful to her writings, based on the fact that she works under the assumptions of the society, which holds that womans beauty is firm and easily identifiable. In the essay, Sontag refers to the beauty of that can be observed, of the physical type whenever she speaks about a beautiful woman. This prompts the reader of her essay to interpret that the beauty is definable, even though Sontag, himself does not even make a single attempt to define it (245). In her thoughts, beauty is found not within the power to perform, but in power to attract (246). Through this logic, I view it possible to measure the feminine beauty by the group of people who show interests in her. She fails to attack the existence of the desire for beauty, rather, she focuses constantly in the manner in which the society views beauty; from the mens perspective in addition to womens. I considerably support Sontags argument that women possess and will continue to be pressurised to be beautiful with an aim of accomplishing various successes.

About defining beauty, Sontag thinks that a woman should have the capacity to define her beauty and not necessarily what the society have defined the beauty. Notably, a woman does not require any beauty to perform things within the society, despite being perceived entirely different by the society. As Warner asserts, this norm is not as it is, and is likely to undergo a tremendous transformation in the current dispensation, as females are emerging to become considerably powerful and may not take a longer time before the complete end of patriarchy is observed (417).

The majority of the contemporary historian agree with the fact that the male dominance on the socio-economic and political issues originated during the Neolithic revolution, in addition to vast sociological changes. During this time, both the women and men enjoyed many equal rights with the men as they were not strong enough for the work. Today, however, it is common for us to observe women becoming the CEOs and presidents, simply because they have joined the public. Through this, they can prove to men that they can perform the works previously occupied by the men. In my opinion, this situation will still face considerable changes in the coming decades and therefore, our societies will be able to avoid judging the women who have talents but not beautiful.

The majority of the women will concede to the notion that to some degree, their lives are consumed by the attempts to accomplish the beauty and gaining attention from the public. When Sontag asserts that the way to save beauty is from the women and for is them is possible through the achievement of the critical distance, then this generation has possibly taken a step in a wrong direction. Notably, the beauty has emerged to command various things through beauty-heterotopias, and the manner in which women live their lives. Additionally, the phenomenon has also become easier and described as the acceptable to take the female beauty images, whenever we deceive ourselves into meditating about thinking that this is what we would like to observe. Moreover, a short circular logic regarding the fascination of the public which presents us with a kind of circular see. This is based on the consideration that such demonstration is propelled through public interests the process of consuming them. In my opinion, it is impossible for the beauty to be recognized, without being given a chance to exist.


In conclusion, this essay recognises the fact that Sontags essay on the concept of beauty in women. She does considerably good work by subjecting the feeling of eagerness of the readers towards questioning the point about the issues raised and those that revolve around the beauty of women. However, several weaknesses are portrayed in the essay such as difficulties in discerning the meaning of beauty in her explanations, and its identification. Finally, it is true to assert that Sontags audience have no options but to enjoy her essay. With particular emphasis, I like the manner in which she presented beauty, through offering the explanations regarding the problem. However, she fails to attack the existence of the desire for beauty, rather, she focuses constantly in the manner in which the society views beauty; from the mens perspective in addition to womens. I considerably support Sontags argument that women possess and will continue to be pressurised to be beautiful with an aim of accomplishing various successes. In addition, it is unfair and inappropriate when men lack the same pressures within the societies.

Works Cited

DiYanni, Robert. One Hundred Great Essays. New York: Longman, 2002. Print.

Sontag, Susan. Womans Beauty: Put-Down or Power Source. Occasions for Writing. Ed. Robert DiYanni and Pat C. Hoy II. Boston: Wadsworth, 2008. 245-46. Print.

Warner, Michael. Publics and Counter publics (abbreviated version). Quarterly Journal of Speech 88.4 (2002): 413-25. Web. 12 June 2014.

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