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I have majorly mixed feeling about this poster, which hangs in the library of the school where I’m teaching, but also hung in the library at the University of Delaware when I was an undergrad there.

I mean, hurray for portraying a woman conductor.  She’s wearing masculine clothes including a goddamn bow tie, but in feminine colors and shapes; so that balances out.  Her hair is a sort of young, blonde, lustrous version of crazy-old-man/mad-scientist/Albert-Einstein/Herbert-von-Karajan hair; and I don’t mind it.  I don’t object to the weakness and delicacy of her hand position, as that may well be appropriate to whatever she’s supposed to be conducting.

The shape of her upper lip bothers me: she sort of looks like she’s sneering.  The focus of her eyes also bothers me: at whom is she gazing so far away and so far to her right?  The tilt of her head, in combination with the lip and the eyes, really bothers me: in what circumstance would that expression be appropriate?

I did a search for the term “conductor” on Google Images.  Some of these are real conductors, some are models posing like conductors, and some are cartoon drawings of conductors.  But all of them are more realistic, sensible positions than the woman in the library poster!

So I guess I’m glad they’re promoting women in the lead, and happy they used a woman conductor as an example of that.  But they made her look like a crappy conductor!  If you’re going to portray a woman as a leader, make her look like a leader!  Make her good at her job.

By the way, the only three pictures of real women conductors on the first page of that Google Image search were:

All three pictures are fabulous.

Women in the Lead.  Read About Us!

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