My Body, My Ball and Chain

In the post below, Sara of Shady Sadie kicks off an important category:  how our bodies, or not our bodies (they’re blameless) but our unmerciful attitudes toward them, can be a ball and chain that keeps us women from running, flying, or sometimes even leaving home.

If your body isn’t a vital vehicle for going where you want to go, if it isn’t a trusted source of information and of pleasure, but is rather a stumbling block that’s always in your way, an icky mess of goo you step in no matter which way you turn, a wicked weapon that more than half the time is turned against you, it’s going to put a major crimp in your freedom and effectiveness.

There are fascinating, paranoid feminist writings that describe this problem as a splinter of the “male gaze” left lodged in our flesh, an ankle bracelet from the patriarchy, to ensure that we don’t get too far.  It seems, however, to be something we do to ourselves, with a lot of help from the visual media. Why??

It’s a bottomless subject for women — until we get totally fed up (!) with it and decide never to weigh ourselves or talk about it out loud again.  But then the talk just goes underground.  Thanks to Sara for having the guts to bring it up.

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Published in: on October 1, 2009 at 12:15 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. There are fascinating, paranoid feminist writings that describe this problem as a splinter of the “male gaze” left lodged in our flesh, an ankle bracelet from the patriarchy, to ensure that we don’t get too far. It seems, however, to be something we do to ourselves, with a lot of help from the visual media. Why??

    Women like the attention of men, men are visual.

  2. Quite true. What’s weird, though, is how women internalize what they imagine to be a man’s desirous or critical regard. They turn some parody of that on themselves that’s far more cruel than the original. It appears that straight men are much less finicky in their lust than women’s self-installed beauty policeman.

    On the other hand, it’s also true that men are trained by images in porn and advertising to be more finicky than they might “naturally” be. The sad part is that I think that’s less about desire than status. It isn’t what turns a man on, at least not directly. It’s what he would like to be seen with by other men.

  3. What’s weird, though, is how women internalize what they imagine to be a man’s desirous or critical regard. They turn some parody of that on themselves that’s far more cruel than the original.

    Many women probably just like being miserable. Looked at that way, they’re horrible people and they deserve it. Be happy about it.

  4. Hee hee.


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