*This talk has its loose origins in my doctoral thesis “Social Construction of a Bad Woman” from 2014 and has been presented at the conference “Engendering Difference: Sexism, Power and Politics“, that took place on 12-13 May 2017 in Maribor at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Maribor, Slovenia.*
Sodobna mitologija o materinstvu zajema tri temeljna načela: (1) vse ženske so bodoče matere, (2) ne-matere so nesrečne in nezadovlj(e)ne in (3) otroci so na prvem mestu. Ko se ženska odloči iz bioloških ali družbenih razlogov, da ne bo mati (tj. ‘postane ne-mati’), tako odločitev žensk – kljub postmoderni metodi o izogibanju konfliktov – nenehno spremlja nehoteno ali celo dobrohotno ideološko vsiljevanje t.i. ‘materinskega mandata‘. Materinski mandat prepričuje žensko, da je materinstvo nujna življenjska izkušnja, ki predvideva, da je ženska ‘naravno’ voljna, da prevzame bodoče materinske obveznosti kljub temu, da mora prekiniti svoj utečeni potek življenja.
Stranger shaming is an act of (secretly) taking pictures of strangers in public spaces and posting them to social media sites later. They are taken without permission of people being photographed to document their activity or appearance which is neither illegal, nor offensive but to the photographer, they seem socially inappropriate, morally wrong or just a way to mock someone publicly. Strangers do something that the photographer – who feels superior to them or their behaviour – disapproves of.
In gymnastics, a somersault is a 360° flip in the air or – when done on the ground – a roll. The starting position resembles the final; however, because of the distance made from the point A to the point B finish is never start. Or to paraphrase Heraclius: “No woman ever steps on the same ground twice, for it’s not the same ground and she’s not the same woman.” In Somersault (2004), a film written and directed by an Australian filmmaker Cate Shortland, the teenage protagonist Heidi does a geographic somersault – she runs away from home after fallout with her mother but eventually returns. Yet it’s not her escape that I’m interested in, but the unconventional use of the one woman’s touch as an essential tool to perceive and bond with the world.
*This is a guest post by Petra Anders, Ph.D.*
Michael Akers’ drama Morgan (2012) deals with a young man named Morgan who used to be an enthusiastic cyclist. He had won a lot of medals and awards but after having had a severe accident Morgan sees himself confronted with paraplegia. His mother, his friend Lane and Dean, his new love(r), become important people on his way back to everyday life.
*white, straight, middle-class, able-bodied, youngish, cis-gender, Western
However banal it may sound, shit, dung, faeces, poop, excrement, number two, shite, bowel movement, stool, discharge, defecation or crap matters. Without the regular defecation, our bodies die. Discharging waste from our bodies is literally a life-saver.
How to defecate is a matter of acculturation and socialisation we are exposed to. Most Western people use a sitting flush toilet and toilet paper to remove the traces of defecation and pee in an environment that is familiar, cosy and clean. It is quite a different experience to take a dump at the chemical toilet – they are not supposed to be a place where you should or could feel at home, despite engaging in very homely activity. Chemical toilets have no homelike atmosphere; they are a transitional place for masses to relief themselves as quickly as possible. When you must shit in public places (e.g. public toilet in a mall, workplace or a chemical toilet), you must do it so quickly that nobody even notices it. Yes, we are that uncomfortable with our own faeces.
Women’s feet are supposed to be small and narrow, but what is constituted as ‘small’, varies from culture to culture and time to time. This is not just a tacit rule, the prevalence of small women’s feet is evident in the general lack of shoe sizes over 41 (9 ½ USA, 7 UK) in mainstream shoe industry and stores. When something as natural as the shoe size variety is being ignored – and not producing bigger shoe sizes is a capital consumer negligence – then big feet are being Othered or to put it differently, the society (and shoe industry in particular) is being sizeist.
Sizeism is a discrimination against a person on the basis of her/his/their body size (fat, thin, small or tall), but it also includes a less common prejudice against a person’s length and width of feet. This prejudice is far more problematic for women, whose feet size is larger than number 41. They fall out of the category to be ‘beautiful’ because western society’s notions of women’s beauty are intertwined with their feminine physicality. Beautiful = feminine.
When it comes to bruises on a woman’s body, almost a unanimous assumption is quickly made and it usually involves domestic violence. Why does the conclusion of a woman being abused suddenly prevail, when an adult woman has a bruise on her body?
The western understanding of a woman’s body is – alongside with its reproductive power – also built around its aesthetic (decorative) and mobile (inactive) nature. It is expected for a girl to be pretty and a woman to be attractive, so to stay pretty/beautiful, a girl/woman should not engage in activities (sports mostly) that could ‘ruin’ her appearances. Bruises ruin skin to a degree of transforming skin colour from natural to ‘unnatural’ – blue, green, violet, yellowish. But most of all, they bluntly expose the fragility and mortality of the human body.
Positive representations are of great importance when mainstream media portrayals about sex work, gender transgression or pleasures are encoded as ‘bad’, not ‘normal’, Othered and hence ridiculed or sidelined in the film narrative.
However, this is not how the story goes in Magic Mike XXL (MM XXL). MM XXL (2015, d.: Gregory Jacobs) is build around male sex work (i.e. stripping), masculinity as a fluid concept and women as central guilt- and shame-free pleasure seekers with spending power.
Julia Kristeva‘s concept of abjection includes everything that is identified as Other in a dominant western cultural context: unrepresentable, archaic, primary, pre-linguistic, semiotic, unclean, ambiguous, maternal. What is defined as abject, does not respect borders, positions, rules and by this, it disturbs system or order by making it unstable.
The abject can be experienced in three different ways: (1) as dirt (i.e. corporeal changes and their climax – death, (2) in sexual difference (i.e. the female/feminine body and incest) and (3) by food taboos or repulsion. All those pillars of abjection represent the border or ritualised beginning of culture (i.e. order, civilisation, system, logic, masculinity) from nature (i.e. chaos, darkness, devouring, maternal, emotions).