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The Body and Reproduction of Femininity

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The body is more than a text of culture. ... Bourdieu: culture as a made body, can be converted into automatic, habitual activity. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Body and Reproduction of Femininity


1
The Body and Reproduction of Femininity
  • Susan Bordo

2
Thesis
  • This 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 culture
  • The 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 expected
  • In the era that appearance is the contemporary
    preoccupation, when applying Foucaults 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 expected
  • We 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
    practice
  • Disordered body as a text Reading of the
    slender body
  • A double bind

9
History of female disorder and normal feminine
practice
  • Symptoms of disorder
  • Among most close reading or analysis of disorder,
    women appear to be apparently much more
    vulnerable (than men).
  • 19th Century Neurasthenia and hysteria
  • 20th 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 textuality
  • Symptoms of disorders contain symbolic or
    political meanings that can be taken as
    reflections upon the constructed and existed
    gender roles
  • Examples
  • Women 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 textuality
  • An ideological construction of femininity
  • Femininity 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 practice
  • 19th 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 practice
  • In various literary texts and scientific reports,
    the term hysteria becomes
  • interchangeable 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 practice
  • Femininity is constructed through stadardized
    visual images.
  • Femininity a matter of constructing
  • Femininity the appropriate surface presentation
    of self
  • Example 1950s1960s agoraphobia

15
Disordered body as a text Reading the slender
body
  • 1950s1960s agoraphobia
  • emerged at a period of reaffirmation of
    domesticity and dependency as the feminine ideal
  • career women a dirty word
  • movie and screen images as examples
  • The 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 Bind
  • Femininity Masculinity ? the anorexic as an
    extreme performer
  • Women are continually taught feminine virtues
    and are also expected (simultaneously) to learn
    the masculine language and value.
  • Popular images of femininity and masculinity
  • The androgynous ideal hence tears the subject
    into two.

18
Protest and Retreat in the Same Gesture
  • Muteness as a way to protest
  • A feminine slim body that demonstrates
    well-control and self-mastery
  • American and French feminists interpret the
    hysteric speaking as a protest through their
    muteness.
  • Dianne Hunter and other Lacanian feminists view
    on the hysterics regressive and expressive
    articulation to patriarchal thought
  • Catherine Clement the hysterics accuse and
    points
  • Helene Cixous Dora as an example

19
Protest and Retreat in the Same Gesture
  • Muteness as a way to protest
  • Literary protest
  • Robert Seidenberg and Karen DeCrow as examples
  • Carroll Smith Rosenberg
  • Susie Orbach the anorectic uses hunger strike
    to express a political discourse

20
Retreat
  • Kim Chernin
  • 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?)
  • Agoraphobia
  • usually happens shortly after marriage
  • a 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 anorectics
    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 of
  • rejecting the symbolic order of the patriarchy
  • Recovering a lost world of semiotic, maternal
    value.

22
Collusion, Resistance, and the Body
  • A Social Formation
  • During 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 Formation
  • No 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 subjects dream and desire are
    weaved into the matrix of the power relations.

24
Collusion, Resistance, and the Body
  • Anorectics body Anorexia is a feminine
    practice
  • Anorexia 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 practice
  • Finding 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 childs body.

26
Collusion, Resistance, and the Body
  • Anorexia as a feminine practice
  • The Anorexics experience of power is illusory
  • Reshaping 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 body
  • Two different bodies under the same discourse
  • A possible suggestion to the further development
    of feminism
  • Conclusion

28
Two different bodies under the same discourse
  • The intelligible body
  • Scientific, philosophic, and aesthetic
    representations of the body
  • The useful body
  • The 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 bodies
  • 19th Century the ideal female body of hourglass
    figure
  • intelligible symbolic form that represents a
    domestic and sexualized ideal of femininity
  • became a useful body through feminine praxis
  • 17th 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 praxises

32
A suggestion to the further development of
feminism
  • Helena Michies The Flesh Made Word
  • makes metaphorical connections between female
    eating and female sexuality
  • discusses 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
Conclusion
  • Bordo 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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