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Postmodern bodies: Consumption, Body modification and self identity.

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1 Postmodern bodies: Consumption, Body modification and self identity.
Lecture Eight

2 Inscribing the Body Scarification- a social process whereby human bodies are inscribed marked or painted. Examples-make-up, foot binding, shaving, tattooing, piercing Almost universal tendency for humans to 'mark' their bodies. Even clothing has deep symbolic significance. Marking body says something about who we are and our social roles. Affects ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ of body. Socialisation and enculturation - processes of scarification. We are coded or inscribed with culture and identity by social processes.

3 Muscle, Utopian Bodies and Body Projects.
Perfection of the body central in contemporary culture. Body building, liposuction, breast implants, face-lifts, nose jobs Cultural processes lead to modification of a biological body. Connell (1983) - 'transcendence' - describes how culture can modify a biological body. A means of resistance? Samuel Fussell (1991) Muscle: Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder. Quest to build the utopian body. A postmodern art form An exagerrated form of hypermasculinity.

4 The modification of a ‘natural’ body.
Does augmentation of the body have a biological basis? Augmentation for sexual display? Looking good feeling bad? Manipulations of the biological body reflect commitments to ideals of youth and beauty that cross lines of gender. ‘Natural’ body is as a malleable substance Perfecting body an attempt to resolve or avoid problems of own identity and purpose (Fussell 1991). Internally distressed but externally perfect.

5 The Anorexic Body – postmodern illness?
Susie Orbach (1993) -Anorexia describes the condition of women who 'have become scared of food and what it can do to them' (1993). Szasz (1974) 'Addiction, obesity and anorexia are political problems, not psychiatric; each condenses and expresses a contest between the individual and some other person or persons in his environmnet'

6 Taking Control Through Eating Disorders?
Szasz- Individuals with overbearing, over controlling parents are likely to develop eating disorders as a means of wrestling back control over their bodies. Starvation a means for acquiring greater autonomy and selfhood. BUT- mostly a disease of affluent, western societies.

7 Background. First noted in 1870's in US, France and Britain.
Explosion of eating disorders iusually dated to last four decades of the 20th century. In US that between 1-4% of US females in high school and college suffer. Competition between disposable incomes and choices and a desire to keep the body slim. Tension between food imagery and ethos of avoidance and self control Susan Bordo - a link between eating disorders the incitement to consume. A gendered phenomenon, 9 out of 10 sufferers are women. Increasingly cross class phenomenon. Less prevalent among men and black women

8 Explanations. Onset of sexual maturity- a rejection of emerging femaleness (Neuman 1983, Fraad 1990, Bruch) Appropriation of male body. (Oliver Bruch) Paradox xelf control but also a form of self loathing A hatred hatred of the weak self. Thinness is seen as symbolically signifying a well managed self Also purveys a message of a self out of control. Prevalence of images of 'ideal bodies' in the media.

9 Explanations2 Question: Why arent black women as susceptible? Why aren't men as susceptible? Internalisation of a discourse of bodily perfection. impact on how we see ourselves.

10 Biological explanations
A form of auto-addiction caused by a reaction to brain opiates produced in the process of starvation. neurochemical changes biological processes and modifications reinforce the trajectory

11 ‘Faulty’ Bodies. Re-cap.
Cosmetic surgery, tattooing, piercing, etc imply a degree of choice with regard to bodily performances. Bodies can be produced by the individual and society Discourses inscribe the body with meaning. Power, language and the body. Civilized or socialized body through the work of Norbert Elias. Natural body? Bodies both material and cultural things (Shilling) Little in the analyses above about the experience of being a body- the lived experience of embodiment.

12 Being Bodies. Experience of embodiment heightened when we undergo some sort ‘deviation’ from the ‘norm’. Weight gain, accident, illness, question around gender identity, disfigurement, impairment. Society excludes those with bodily ‘differences’ Emphasis on bodily perfection in contemporary culture. Bodies that do not conform considered to be ‘faulty’ bodies Faulty bodies hidden Susan Wendell, Judith Butler - disabled women in Western societies face particular difficulties because bodily perfection is so often equated with health and success.

13 Bodies and Difference Ideal unattainable for most women
‘Othering’ of ‘different’ bodies. Faulty bodies are ascribed or inscribed with difference both externally and internally. Eg. Disability is viewed negatively in Western culture. Few disabled bodies in the media. Disabled people doubly silenced Stereotypical representations perpetuate "otherness" Jenny Morris -mainstream society -low expectations of disabled men and women. Pressure on disabled people to conform Individuals with disabilities may try to compensate for their disabilities by striving to look as close to the non-disabled "norm" as possible. Some disabled girls and women may try to hide their bodies or change how their bodies look. Manipulation of body through continuous dieting, plucking, shaving, cutting, and constricting.

14 Medicalising Disability
Mike Oliver -Parsons ‘Sick Role’ Theory. Disabled people expected to cultivate dependency and vulnerability. Perceived in a state of perpetual illness. Expected to assume the position of patient Dependency upon medical experts.

15 By adopting particular conceptions of normality, people with disabilities are defined according to the criteria they do not meet, rather than those they do. They are defined in relation to what they are not. ‘In short, they are the product of the `psychological imagination' constructed upon a bedrock of `non-disabled' assumptions of what it is like to experience impairment. The realisation of impairment is presumed to involve some form of loss or `personal tragedy'. Oliver (2002)

16 Medicalising Disability
Sick role theory also significant because disabled people are perceived as being free from social obligations and responsibilities. Deviance and disability? Disability indicates the intersection between the material and the cultural body Subjectivity of disabled people structured by biological and social factors. To suggest that the body is entirely socially constructed implies that we can escape from our bodies if we just change cultural attitudes and behaviours

17 The Cyborg Body Donna Haraway - cybernetic organism
A mixture of organic and mechanical parts A super-enhanced being Technologies make us cyborgs. Pacemakers, clothing, contact lenses, contraceptive implants, voice recognition software, prosthesis, metal limbs. Cyborgian bodies- modern technologies- especially those that are inside the body

18 Nature, Cultureand Cyborgianism.
Cyborg is a metaphor for exploring ways of breaking down the nature/culture opposition. Dissolution of nature -culture borders -new ways of acting politically. Identity constructed, fluid, and fractured. Cyborg ost-gender -an identity that can be embraced by all.

19 Cyborgs ‘Otherness’ and Resistance
Cyborg identity is constructed. Cyborgs create themselves out of what is not other. An ‘Oppositional identity’ A framework for those who do not fit into the natural categories of race, gender, class, physical perfection. Resistance of normalising discouses Construction of new categories of identity Accepting partiality and contradictions Overturning of what has been defined as "natural" and normal. New order based on affinity. Cyborg identity about choices and attractions.

20 Transgressing Boundaries.
Transgression of boundaries and categories. Man/ animal, animal/ machine, physical/ non-physical, nature/ culture. Pleasure in ‘confusion of boundaries’. Technology an extension of our bodies.

21 Freedom or control? Cyborg identity Janus faced (Wild 2003)
Human /machine subjectivity at once liberates us and controls us. Freedom from the limits of our bodies but new possibilities for control.

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