Notes From 10/3 Unbearable Weight Intro

Susan Bordo background discussion: 

We started out talking about “condescending compliments”. 

  • Don’t need recognition
  • attribute exists without someone telling you
  • “backhanded compliments”

Led to conversation of the term “out of shape”

  • implies there is a standard shape and you do not fit
  • What is the shape we are supposed to be?
  • skinniness as a misconception of healthiness
  • “medicalization of size”- small is healthy large is unhealthy

The use of fat as an adjective instead of a noun.

  • Politically correct term “overweight” implies there is a standard weight and you are exceeding it.
  • what is the standard?
  • why is there a standard?
  • Can the same weight be the healthy amount for everyone?

A healthy looking body is different in every culture, some cultures believe thicker, curvier bodies are healthy. 

Discussion of the “epiphany moment” —> women’s bodies seen as cultural property—> why is this okay?

Subsections of Unbearable Weight Introduction:

I. Women As Body

page 5- men= mind/spirit  women= body

spirit is superior, the body must be controlled/disciplined

page 6- women depicted as the temptress, the female body is seen as always provocative. This assumption of women “asking for it” leads to rape culture and the justification of such a culture. This temptress depiction is so widespread that some women even hold themselves accountable for sexual assaults against them. Independent, sexy, confident women are seen as public property. Example of the sexually independent character being slaughtered in horror films—> something they should be punished for.

We spoke a little bit about the racist side of rape culture: black men and women seen and advertised as “oversexed animals”. There is an idea black women do not have personal space or modesty and therefore cannot be raped. 


II. Activity, Passivity, And Gender

juxtaposition between more physical men thought of as mind/spirit and emotionally intelligent/spiritual women thought of as body. 

View of women as dough—> receive the shape of whatever society/men want them to be.

practical metaphysics—> women as controlled man as controller seen in virtually every aspect of human life.

Hegel plant analogy—> men actively seek, women accept (photosynthesis) 

reproduction misconception and how it shows men as doers and women as done to-ers (sperm seeks the egg that just sits there)

“I’m interested by what I don’t have discussion” Confusion overload ensued. 

grass is greener on the other side analogy, I want what I cannot have. 

popular media interpretation of fat girls having no control

Discussion of “Fat Amy”

unsure if she is helping or hurting herself

putting herself down to beat people to the joke

is she positively claiming identity in an uplifting way or putting herself down before others can?

Joy Nash—> if I do it myself nobody can hurt me.


III. Anglo-American Feminism, “Women’s Liberation,” And The Politics Of The Body

p.18 Mary Wollstonecraft—> “the mind shapes itself to the body” 

this leads to an identity crisis, girls are their bodies not their character/merit.

p.21 Andrea Dworkin “It is commonly and wrongly said that male transvestites through the use of makeup and costuming caricature the women they would become, but any real knowledge of the romantic ethos makes clear that these men have penetrated to the core experience of being a woman…” 

Reflect on the Wollstonecraft and Dworkin quotes for Tuesday. 




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