Class Notes Oct. 10th

Sorry these are going up a little late!

We continued with our analysis of Unbearable Weight specifically “The Body and the Reproduction of Femininity”. Each group analyzed their section and led a discussion about the main points and questions raised.

Reconstructing Feminist Discourse On the Body

  • Body as a medium of culture, operates as a metaphor for culture
  • Body not just a text of culture, it is a way norms are enforced (pg 165)
  • What does it mean when you spend so much time on appearance?
  • Regulated by how we control our bodies
  • “We are rendered less socially oriented and more centripetally focused on self- modification” (pg 166) -Thinking less about the inside, focusing on the outside
    -Investment of time and money = consequences
  • Pg 166-167 historical discipline of the body, need to think about power differently
  • Pg 168 sets up 3 disorders and also sets up paradox carried through the sections

The Body As a Text Of Femininity

  • “Normal” female practices of diet/exercise/restriction but when taken too far = disorder
  • Generally representative of femininity, assumed feminine characteristics
  • Disorders (anorexia, agoraphobia, hysteria) are all extreme versions of what is expected of femininity  ex) excessive thinness, excessive emotion
  • Normalized pg 169
  • Saturated in the media, becomes more and more normalized
  • Pg 170 Shift, not just verbally told expectations, now shown with images
  • Not just how we behave, purely how we look
  • Example: connected to Miley Cyrus and her status as a role-model for those who look up to her. She is very successful and using her body to do so
  • “The rules for this construction of femininity…require that women learn to feel others, not the self, and to construe any desires for self-nurturance and self-feeding as greedy and excessive” (Pg 171) -Double bind
    -Masculine discipline paired with hyper femininity
    -Contradictory demands of women
  • Anorectic embodies this double bind
  • Men being called feminine as insult, masculinity defined by what femininity is not

Protest and Retreat In the Same Gesture

  • “It is as though these bodies are speaking to us of the pathology and violence that lurks just around the corner, waiting at the horizon of ‘normal’ femininity” (pg 175). -Violence
  • Examples of women losing voices, extending the metaphor of silenced women
  • Unconscious feminine protest -Different perspectives: political, personal
  • Susie Orbach quote (pg 176) , 30 years past this and we are still having the same conversation
  • Pg 176, cultural expectation to extreme -Anorectic body as political protest
    -Isolate, weaken, undermine
  • Connects to 170: femininity as a construction
  • No longer in control of what our bodies actually need
  • You are more than a hanger on your clothes
  • Learn to externalize what our bodies should be more then a size or a number
  •  “…the protest collapses onto its opposite and proclaims the utter capitulation of the subject to the contracted female world” (Bottom 176)  Paradox discussed through all of the sections, double bind
  • Is the protest always conscious? 
  • Establishing retreat aspect 
  • Use of the world “contracted” -Contract female world, no choice
    -unconscious, uncontrolled, just happens
  • Physical, muscular shrinking, painful process
  • Counter intuitive: need to eat in order to live 

Collusion, Resistance, and the Body

  • Social formation
  • Objective accounts of power relations fail us
  • Invisible network, power does not operate from top down
  • Message from multiple places
  • Somehow it is learned
  • It is more then just about intelligence
  • Feel power from taking away body necessities

…to be continued.




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