Dominance and Cuteness

From a review of Sianne Ngai’s Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting:

Ngai positions cuteness as a particular kind of affective response to a lack of agency — in order to judge something cute you first have to feel your own dominance in relation to it. This dominance may take the form of a desire to protect the cute object, as a parent might, or, more darkly, the desire to exert power by hurting or destroying it. These conflicting drives combine to produce an aesthetic category with strong ties to the childish, the domestic, the sexual, and historical ideas about feminine weakness.


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