Presentation on theme: "The Body and Reproduction of Femininity"— Presentation transcript:
1 The Body and Reproduction of Femininity Susan Bordo
2 ThesisThis essay focus on the analysis of one particular arena that the interplays of several dynamics is striking and exemplary.Disorders like anorexia, hysteria and agoraphobia may be resistance that undercuts and is utilized as a reproduction of power relations.With her central mechanism involving a transformation of meaning, Bordo intends to exemplify that various contemporary critical discourses can be joined and generate an understanding of the unwitting role which our bodies play in the symbolization and reproduction of gender.
3 Reconstructing Feminist Discourse on the Body The concept of “body” – a medium of cultureThe body is more than a text of culture. According to Bourdieu and Foucault, it is a practical, direct locus of social control.An effective political discourse expected
4 The Concept of “body” Body as a medium of culture Bourdieu: culture as a made body, can be converted into automatic, habitual activity.Foucault: the primacy of practice over belief is not chiefly through ideology, but through the organization and regulation of the time, space and movements of our daily lives. These means make our bodies trained, shaped, and impressed with prevailing historical forms of selfhood, desire, masculinity, femininity.
5 The Concept of body Body as a medium of culture Docile bodies – Female bodies forces and energies are habituated, to external regulation, subjection , transformation and “improvement.”“Through the exacting and normalizing disciplines of diet, makeup, and dress, women are rendered less socially oriented and more centripetally focused on self-modification.”“The discipline and normalization of the female body[…] has to be acknowledged as an amazingly durable and flexible strategy of social control.”
6 Reconstructing Feminist Discourse on the Body An effective political discourse expectedIn the era that appearance is the contemporary preoccupation, when applying Foucault’s idea, it is important that we think of the network of practices, institutions, and technologies that sustain positions of dominance and subordination in a particular domain.
7 Reconstructing Feminist Discourse on the Body An effective political discourse expectedWe need an analytics to describe a power, not repressive but constitutive.We need a discourse to “account for the subversion of potential rebellion”; a discourse that not merely insists on objectively analysis on power relations, social hierarchy, political backlashes, but also confronts the difficulty and entrapment that “the subject” at times is trapped in sustaining “her own oppression.”
8 The Body as a Text of Femininity History of female disorder and “normal” feminine practiceDisordered body as a text – Reading of the slender bodyA double bind
9 History of female disorder and “normal” feminine practice Symptoms of disorderAmong most close reading or analysis of disorder, women appear to be apparently much more vulnerable (than men).19th Century – Neurasthenia and hysteria20th Century – Agoraphobic, anorexia nervosa, bulimia
10 History of female disorder and “normal” feminine practice Symptoms could be regarded as the text and be analyzed as a textualitySymptoms of disorders contain symbolic or political meanings that can be taken as reflections upon the constructed and existed gender rolesExamplesWomen are expected to fee, to serve, to sacrifice; they starve themselves and whittling down the space they/their bodies take up.
11 History of female disorder and “normal” feminine practice Symptoms could be regarded as the text and be analyzed as a textualityAn ideological construction of femininityFemininity is constructed and the definition of femininity is homogenized and normalized disregard of race, class and other differences.Disordered female bodies – aggressive texts/graphics for interpreters
12 History of female disorder and “normal” feminine practice Historical “normal” feminine practice19th Century: the definition of “lady” and the traits of a “lady”Delicacy, dreaminess, sexually passive, charmingly labile and capriciously emotional
13 History of female disorder and “normal” feminine practice Historical “normal” feminine practiceIn various literary texts and scientific reports, the term “hysteria” becomesinterchangeable with the term “feminine”formalized and scientized in male theorists’ works (Norton 2366)
14 History of female disorder and “normal” feminine practice Historical “normal” feminine practiceFemininity is constructed through stadardized visual images.Femininity: a matter of constructingFemininity: the appropriate surface presentation of selfExample: 1950s~1960s agoraphobia
15 Disordered body as a text – Reading the slender body 1950s~1960s – agoraphobiaemerged at a period of reaffirmation of domesticity and dependency as the feminine ideal“career women” – a dirty wordmovie and screen images as examplesThe emaciated body of the anorectic“a caricature of the contemporary ideal of hyperslenderness for women, an ideal bodily form l for women nowadays still
16 A Double Bind A Double Bind Women – emotional and physical nurturer “The rules for this construction of femininity […] require that women learn to fee others, not the self”(2367).Self-feeding is taken as greedy and excessive for women who are expected to develop an other-oriented emotional economy.
17 A Double BindFemininity + Masculinity the anorexic as an extreme performerWomen are continually taught “feminine” virtues and are also expected (simultaneously) to learn the “masculine’ language and value.Popular images of femininity and masculinityThe androgynous ideal hence tears the subject into two.
18 Protest and Retreat in the Same Gesture Muteness as a way to protestA feminine slim body that demonstrates well-control and self-masteryAmerican and French feminists interpret the hysteric speaking as a protest through their muteness.Dianne Hunter and other Lacanian feminists’ view on the hysteric’s regressive and expressive articulation to patriarchal thoughtCatherine Clement – the hysterics accuse and pointsHelene Cixous – Dora as an example
19 Protest and Retreat in the Same Gesture Muteness as a way to protestLiterary protestRobert Seidenberg and Karen DeCrow as examplesCarroll Smith RosenbergSusie Orbach – the anorectic uses “hunger strike” to express a “political discourse”
20 Retreat Kim Chernin Agoraphobia By intervening personal development, the anorexic may assuage the guilt and separation anxiety:Of being surpassed their mothers (in terms of freedom?)Of living freer lives ( Is that possible?)Agoraphobiausually happens shortly after marriagea way to weld dependency and attachment
21 Retreat The self-destructing nature of the protest The symptoms of disorders actually isolate and weaken the sufferer.The life of the body becomes the anorectic’s fetish.For the hysterics:They use their bodies to express.Muteness turns them into silent and uncomplaining woman.Their muteness can be regarded as a gesture ofrejecting the symbolic order of the patriarchy;Recovering a lost world of semiotic, maternal value.
22 Collusion, Resistance, and the Body A Social FormationDuring historical periods of cultural backlash, which challenges reorganization and redefining male and female roles, hysteria and anorexia come across to their peak.Female pathology which is a form of social formation later presses potential resistance and rebellion to maintain the existed gendered order.
23 Collusion, Resistance, and the Body A Social FormationNo matter what sort of objective social condition/formation create the female pathology, the subject is the one that always produces the symptoms.The body is invested with various meanings by the individual/subject.By embodying the body with meanings, we may perceive how the subject’s dream and desire are weaved into the matrix of the power relations.
24 Collusion, Resistance, and the Body Anorectic’s body – Anorexia is a feminine practiceAnorexia began as moderate diet regime.Anorexia came out as a conventional feminine practice, often undertaken by patriarchal remarks.Female finds the way to control the need and the want, a sense of triumph is thus formed
25 Collusion, Resistance, and the Body Anorexia as a feminine practiceFinding the idea that self-mastery and self-transcendence, expertise and power over the body are regarded as superior will and control is appealing, a habit is hence formed by female.Anorectics enjoy their slender bodies admired and viewed as a project of self-mastery.The anorectic realizes that a female body is vulnerable and at times treated as a child’s body.
26 Collusion, Resistance, and the Body Anorexia as a feminine practiceThe Anorexic’s experience of power is illusoryReshaping the body does not mean they are able to gain male power or privilege.“To feel autonomous and free while harnessing body and soul to an obsessive body-practice is to serve, not transform, a social order that limits female possibilities” (2373).
27 Textuality, Praxis, and the Body A tension between the meaning and the practical life of he disordered bodyTwo different bodies under the same discourseA possible suggestion to the further development of feminismConclusion
28 Two different bodies under the same discourse The intelligible bodyScientific, philosophic, and aesthetic representations of the bodyThe useful bodyThe one that is shaped and trained by practical rules and regulations in the presentation of cultural conceptions of the body
29 Two different bodies under the same discourse Cooperation of these 2 bodies19th Century the ideal female body of “hourglass” figure:intelligible symbolic form that represents a domestic and sexualized ideal of femininitybecame a useful body through feminine praxis17th Century concept of the body as a machine
30 Two different bodies under the same discourse Contradiction of these 2 bodies“Exposure and productive cultural analysis of such contradictory and mystifying relations between image and practice are possible only if the analysis includes attention to and interpretation of the ‘useful’ […] the practical body” (2375).Images and presentation of pop culture
31 A possible suggestion to the further development of feminism Comparison of two feminist praxisesFrench FeministU.S. FeministAdvantageProvide a powerful understanding on the phallocentric and dualistic culture on gendered bodyFlourishes in the study of cultural representations of female bodyLimit/disadvantageFail to offer concrete analysis of the female body as a “locus of practical cultural control”Fail to consider the relation between this cultural representations of the female body and the practical lives of these bodies
32 A suggestion to the further development of feminism Helena Michie’s The Flesh Made Wordmakes metaphorical connections between female eating and female sexualitydiscusses female hunger as “unspeakable desires for sexuality and power”A lack: eating disorder that has inchoated from 19th Century as yet is not mentioned.
33 ConclusionBordo views bodies as “site of struggle” where we must work on so as to carry on daily practices that resist gender domination, docility and gender. She suggests that we ought to be more aware of the existing contradictions “between image and practice, rhetoric and reality” (2376).
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