Sunday, 6 January 2008

Dangerous Bodies to Dangerous Words?

A student in a previous teerm commented that, in regard to Margaret Atwood's assertion that "men's bodies are the most dangerous things on Earth," she had read of Atwood asking the women in a group what they feared most from men and receiving the majority replay "physical violence," and of asking the men what they feared most from women and receiving the reply "humiliation."

Apropos of that, here is Camille Paglia:
"Masculine identity is embattled and fragile. In the absence of opportunity for heroic phsyical action, as in the modern office world, women's goodwill is crutial for preserving the male ego ... ["No Law in the Arena: A Pagan Theory of Sexuality" Vamps & Tramps (Vintage: New York 1994) 19-94.]


MaeganT said...

I think this relates to the idea (mentioned by Dr. Ogden) defining women's power as the power of "choice" (power over reproduction) as compared to men's power of "performance" (to prove themselves worthy of female attention).

When this comment was made, I immediately thought of hot button issues such as rape and pro-life organizations (often headed by men): if women have the power of reproductive choice, and thus have power in defining/judging male performance, the these violent controls over women's bodies can be seen as subconcious (and let's face it, concious) incidents of men using their "physical" power to curb and surpress women's (greater?) powers of reproductive choice, judgement of performance and potential "humiliation."

These acts can either be situational (like rape), institutional (pro-life laws) or systemic (the struggle for rape to be investigated, or prosecuted).

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

Hmmm .... I'll draw class attention to the comments section and garner classfellows' response.

Seven Tense said...

I do not claim to be an expert on what it is to be masculine, feminine, or to have a violation of either element of a person's being. It is just that my own philosophy of life resonates strongly with both women's comments.

I have always believed that men and women (in a heterosexual sense, as this comment is not attempting to comment on homosexual relationships) are two complimentary beings, the last integral pieces of a massive puzzle. When brought together, they nurture each other and help to provide that bit of stability each is searching for.

To digress slightly, I also make no claims to know how women's lives are with or without this nurturing. I do, however, know what a [socially and mentally well-adjusted] man gains from having a woman in his life, and loses from not having.

The losses have already been made clear to the world, Atwood and Paglia of course adding their two cents: men fall apart, some even transforming the larger part of their emotions into violence. However, when the situation is reversed, and both creatures are living together [in an assumed state of harmony] men gain confidence, calmness, and an affirmation of their ingrained sense of masculinity that just makes them feel, "everything's on track."

I'm not trying to say that men don't rape, and women don't humiliate. What I'm trying to say is that there are only benefits from the two genders coming together in that state of harmony, and that if it could, and did, happen, then neither circumstance would ever happen again. That's what I think.

...I also think this is far too big to be acceptable as a comment.