In the upcoming weeks we want to introduce you to all the talks from the Women and Their Body Talk Series and Conference. This week we take a look at three talks from the Women and Their Body New Voices Talk Series. We look forward revisiting this amazing project with you!
Watch the whole talk here.
In this presentation, I aim at analyzing the importance of beauty for contemporary women. I begin by showing some traditional views in the history of Philosophy, such as Kant´s conception that “woman is beautiful while man is sublime”. I claim that beauty is still considered one of the main assets for women, not only in the “dating scene” but also in the pursue of a carrier. I show the criticism of beauty practices in the feminist literature. I then argue that in the XXI century, beauty is not only a natural asset but became a duty. From the 20th century on, we see aesthetic procedures becoming popularized, that can be enjoyed by an increasing number of women. Liposuction, Botox, breast prosthesis implants, dental bleaching, modification of the capillary structure are becoming increasingly common and accessible. If, on the one hand, this indicates greater autonomy in relation to the construction of the desired body, on the other hand, being beautiful becomes a duty. Beauty ceases to depend on the natural lottery and becomes a moral duty. Failure to fulfill this duty will be punished more harshly than if ugliness were simply given by nature. Whoever is ugly, is by her own decision, or by weakness of will, by akrasia, a term well known in ethics since Aristotle. For this reason, ugliness is so much more critical and unforgivable. Among the ugliness, one of the most obnoxious features is being fat. In a world that values productivity, speed, and movement, being fat appears as the great sin of contemporaneity. Fat still has an association with two traditional sins: laziness and gluttony. At the end I argue whether beauty is always oppressive, or we could reconceptualize the concept of beauty in order to create a new inclusive idea that incorporates a plurality of bodies.
Watch the whole talk here.
Pregnancy has been a life-changing experience for me. It has been so not only because of my bodily transformation and the amazing two forms of life that emerged, but also because of its painful loss. It has prompted me to ask a simple yet profound question: how to grasp this grief, and how to combat the prevailing cultural discourse that seems in so many ways unsuited to address the ambivalence surrounding early pregnancy loss? One way of accessing the meaning of pregnancy loss is through rethinking the meaning of pregnancy in terms of a constellation. In previous work, I have proposed to view pregnancy in light of the building of a pregnant city, in analogy to Plato’s building of a city in the Republic. Following this thought: what happens when the emerging pregnant city falls apart prematurely? Here it is the liminal experience of early miscarriage (i.e., miscarriage before the 12th gestational week) that I seek to investigate, which is important for 3 reasons. First, this form of ephemeral loss is conceptually under-articulated, yet experientially prevalent: 70 % of conceptions end prior to birth. Secondly, rethinking early pregnancy loss stimulates correction of many accounts of loss that are predominantly focused on the loss of individuated, singular beings, rather than allowing for an analysis of loss at the level of the milieu. Thirdly, recognizing the importance and prevalence of dissipating constellation may bring further understanding and recognition to those caught in the grieving aftermath of miscarriage. I will show that Gilles Simondon’s account of pre-individuation is a helpful tool to both conceptualize the pregnant city in its early formation and in its dissolution, precisely because Simondon discusses a metaphysics of life that focuses not on being, but on being-as-becoming (ontogenesis) and affords a place for processes that are pre-individual.
Watch the whole talk here.
When feminists speak about sexuality they sometimes refer to social and political power structure, sometimes to procreation, others speak about pleasure practices or subcultures and even others refer to questions of identity. At the example of the body, these disparities in feminist thought regarding sexuality become even more evident. While the body has been of crucial interest in feminist and LGBTQ thought, it has only rarely been addressed explicitly and many times in quite negative fashion as Simone de Beauvoir’s very negative views on procreation or menstruation. But also Monique Wittig’s writings on the lesbian body struggle with negative association regarding women’s bodies and more particularly desire between them. It was the so called French feminist school and namely Luce Irigaray and Hélène Cixous that tried to find resources for resistance in the female body and its supposed refusal to submit to the rule of the One imposed by phallocracy. Their writings inspired postmodern and queer studies to inquire new views on the sexual body, on differences between female bodies but also on the possibility of finding lust and pleasure in these bodies. Susan Bordo’s work has become canonical in this sense. In this talk I would like to retrace some of the ways in which the body has been thought of in feminist theories on sexuality in discussing first the body in feminist struggles with psychoanalysis, second, I will address the ways in which the feminist sex wars brought the topic of pleasure back into feminist views on sexuality and gender and, third, I would like to present more recent perspectives on the sexual body including the questions of race and of validity. Can we still find revolutionary potential in our sexual and desiring bodies today?
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