cos-mop-o-lite 1. A cosmopolitan person. 2. A butterfly, the Painted Lady or Venessa cardui. Having brown, black, and orange markings. (Greek, kosmopolites: cosmo- + polites, citizen, from polis, city)

Excerpts from John Berger’s, Ways of Seeing, 1977

According to usage and conventions which are at last being questioned but have by no means been overcome, the social presence of a woman is different in kind from that of a man. A woman’s presence expresses her own attitude to herself, and defines what can and cannot be done to her. Her presence is manifest in her gestures, expressions, clothes, chosen surroundings, taste (and in the case of the Kosmopolites work, her mask). Indeed there is nothing she can do which does not contribute to her presence. Presence for a woman is so intrinsic to her person that men tend to think of it as an almost physical emanation, a kind of heat or smell or aura.

To be born a woman has been to be born, within an allotted and confined space, into the keeping of men. The social presence of women has developed as a result of their ingenuity in living under such tutelage with such a limited space. But this has been at the cost of a woman’s self being split into two. A woman must continually watch herself. Whilst she is walking across a room or whilst she is weeping at the death of her father, she can scarcely avoid envisaging herself walking or weeping. From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually.

And so she comes to consider the surveyor and the surveyed within her as she appears to others, and ultimately how she appears to men, is of crucial importance for what is normally thought of as the success of her life. Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another.

Men survey women before treating them. Consequently how a woman appears to a man can determine how she will be treated. To acquire some control over this process, women must contain it and interiorize it. That part of a woman’s self which is the surveyor treats the part which is the surveyed so as to demonstrate to others how her whole self would like to be treated. And this exemplary treatment of herself by herself constitutes her presence. Every woman’s presence regulates what is and is not “permissible” within her presence. Every one of her actions, whatever its direct purpose or motivation, is also read as an indication of how she would like to be treated.

One might simplify this by saying: Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male, the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object and most particularly an object of vision-a sight.