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Geisha continued…

2009 February 26
by ZY

I wanted to write a little about why I chose to represent Geisha, especially because I’m not sure it was clear what Geisha have to do with gender and technology.
The obvious connections can be made through what Geisha wear on their bodies and faces: heavy makeup, elaborate hairstyles and headdresses, and intricately made kimonos. In total, it all weighs about 40 pounds. What I failed to mention was the significance of it all. A geisha’s kimono is made from the finest and most expensive textiles in the world and it’s almost representative of her soul. The quality of the kimono determines the quality of the geisha.
After doing research on geisha, I also started to think about whether the geisha themselves are almost a form of technology. They spend their whole lives being trained and constructed into perfect entertainers, and then they live and breathe the profession. Even the financial contracts involved make me think of… manufacturing geisha?
Laura asked the question today about whether the obviously gendered profession also mirrors their gender representation and this is extremely true among geisha.
The society of the geisha is called karyukai which means “flower and willow world” and the term “geisha” means “woman of art.” Everything about the community, the patrons, and the geisha is about aesthetic beauty. Physical beauty is also a requirement. The main performer must be beautiful and if you’re not beautiful, then you are set aside to play the role of the accompanist, who must be very skilled at her instrument.
Women are associated with aesthetics, exhibiting their femininity, and social networking, which is all very apparent in the life of a geisha. However, considering the main job of a geisha to entertain and provide a comfortable social environment, why is this profession so limited and constricted to a gender? Are aesthetics so deeply ingrained in the female gender? If there was a version of a geisha that was male, I wonder what that would be like.

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