Children of All Ages!

Posted: April 17, 2018 in Uncategorized


~ “Charles [Eames] was on the board of the Ringling Brothers [Clown] College and often referred to the circus as an example of what design and art should be.”

–Beatriz Colomina, “Surrounded by Screens: The Eames’s Media House”



  1. Natalie Van Orden says:

    Now that we’ve mentioned it in class, I can see the resemblance of circus clowns to housewives. Of course there’s the obvious comparison of clowns being painted up and forced to act happy while they’re crying inside, but there are even more subtle comparisons, such as not being taken seriously or being society’s fools. The suburban housewife has been a glorified position for women, yet the women in that position have also been told that cooking and cleaning with a smile is what they are meant to be best at—that another job just wouldn’t be natural for a woman’s disposition. Therefore, women are trapped in a position glorified for their sex, but degraded in the scheme of all careers.
    To bring back yet another example from Mad Men, the men working in advertising talk about how they can’t come home and explain their work to their wives because they just wouldn’t get it and don’t care. Women like Betty Draper are put up on a pedestal for being perfect housewives, yet when the men are talking about business these glorified women are considered stupid and should stick to domestic work.
    From the area I grew up in, this problem is still currently thriving. My mom has always had a full time job as a teacher, and other women in our (100% LDS) neighborhood have approached her throughout the years saying “I’m so sorry you have to work.” My mom actually really loves her job and chooses to work.
    I’m interested in the essay (or was it a speech?) that you mentioned in class about circus clowns. Was this Charles Eames? I’m interested in learning more.

    • The lecture I mentioned in class was Charles Eames’s 1971 Norton lecture, at Harvard University. Eames makes no mention of the plight of the American housewife, and his remarks are hardly feminist in nature. He’s merely extolling the gymnastic virtuosity of students at Ringling Brothers’ Clown College. The connection between the two topics is implicit in Colomina, though she never states it overtly. I tried to make the connection explicit in class.

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