Reconstructing Feminist Discourse on the Body The body – what we eat, how we dress, the daily rituals through which we attend to the body – is a medium of culture (165). Bordo suggests in thsi study that the body can be a metaphor for culture.

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The body and the reproduction of femininity pdf files freeBody

The Slender Body and Other Cultural Forms. The Body and the Reproduction of Femininity. 167 impressed with the stamp of prevailing historical forms of. May 4, 2007 - Bordo suggests in thsi study that the body can be a metaphor for culture. Plato, Hobbes and Irigaray suggest that an imagination of body.

Plato, Hobbes and Irigaray suggest that an imagination of body morphology has provided a blueprint for diagnosis and/or vision of social and political life. The body is not only a text of culture but also a direct practical locus of social control. Through habitual routines, culture is a “made body”, so it is beyond consciousness. Political strivings may be undermined by the life of our bodies – it is not the craving body of Plato, Augustine and Freud, but the “docile body” regulated by cultural norms of cultural life. Foucault highlights the primacy of practice over belief.

The body is controlled not be ideology but through the organisation of time, space, our daily lives; our bodies are trained, shaped and “impressed with the stamp of prevailing historical forms of selfhood/desire, masculinity/femininity”(166). Women are spending more time on the management of their bodies: this intensification is diversionary and subverting.

It is the pursuit of a female ideal. Female bodies become docile bodies: “bodies whose forces and energies are habituated to external regulation, subjection, transformation, ‘improvement’”(166). Diet, make-up and dress are the central organising principles of a woman’s day. It is less socially orientated and more focused on self-modification. Inherent in this project is a feeling of lack as women never feel good enough.

The preoccupation with the body is a backlash. Bordo suggests that feminists need to develop a political discourse to combat this. This requires reconstructing the 1960s/70s feminist paradigm of the oppressors versus the oppressed, the villains versus the victims.

Like Foucault, we must abandon the idea of power as being possessed by one group and levelled against another; instead it is a network of practices, institutions and technologies. Secondly, we need an analytics adequate to describe a power whose central mechanisms are not repressive but constitutive (establishing).

Thirdly, we need a discourse that will account for subversion of potential rebellion i.e. Political backlash – how does the subject become enmeshed in collusion with forces that sustain her own oppression? The Body as a Text of Femininity – Hysteria, Agoraphobia and Anorexia Nervosa There is a certain symptomatology in these conditions: loss of mobility, loss of voice, the inability to leave home, feeding others while starving oneself, taking up space and whittling down the space that one’s body takes up.

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The body of the sufferer is inscribed with ideological construction of femininity emblematic of the period in question – that is an ideal. Femininity is written in exaggerated terms. The body becomes a graphic text, a statement about gender.

Hysteria is an exaggeration of stereotypically feminine traits. The nineteenth century lady was supposed to have the characteristics of delicacy, dreaminess, sexual passivity, having a charming lability and a capricious emotional state. (labile = unstable, apt to slip or change).

This was the norm in femininity. The symptoms of hysteria were dissociations, drifting or fogging of perception, nervous tremors, faints and anaesthesias – these were all concretisations of the feminine mystique. The term hysterical was often interchangeable with the word feminine. Femininity has now become a standardised visual image. We learn the rules of what a ‘lady’ is through bodily discourse – images tell us what face, body shape and clothes we need to have. Agoraphobia and anorexia are parodies of the female ideal.

Agoraphobia began to rise in women in the 1950s and 60s when the female ideal was asserted as being situated in the home along with babies, sex and house work. Agoraphobia parodies this ideal: “If you want me in the home, I’ll stay home with a vengeance!” The obsession of the anorectic/anorexic is hyper-slenderness for women. (anorectal = of or relating to the anus and rectum). It is meaning that makes the body admirable. Slenderness is the citadel of contemporary and historical meaning to the anorexic.