The fantasy of a male creator constructing his perfect woman dates back to the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea. Yet as technology has advanced over the past century, the figure of the lifelike manmade woman has become nearly ubiquitous, popping up in everything from Bride of Frankenstein to Weird Science to The Stepford Wives. Now Julie Wosk takes us on a fascinating tour through this bevy of artificial women, revealing the array of cultural fantasies and fears they embody.
My Fair Ladies considers how female automatons have been represented as objects of desire in fiction and how “living dolls” have been manufactured as real-world fetish objects. But it also examines the many works in which the “perfect” woman turns out to be artificial—a robot or doll—and thus becomes a source of uncanny horror. Finally, Wosk introduces us to a variety of female artists, writers, and filmmakers—from Cindy Sherman to Shelley Jackson to Zoe Kazan—who have cleverly crafted their own images of simulated women.
Anything but dry, My Fair Ladies draws upon Wosk’s own experiences as a young female Playboy copywriter and as a child of the “feminine mystique” era to show how images of the artificial woman have loomed large over real women’s lives. Lavishly illustrated with film stills, artwork, and vintage advertisements, this book offers a fresh look at familiar myths about gender, technology, and artistic creation.