Friday, July 25, 2008

Mutilation

As a feminist I have always been concerned with the way society constructs the bodies of women. The body is made to conform to ideas about what the proper female form should be. This construction in no way matches what nature intended for the female form, it is a rigid  unrealistic body image. This false construct is extremely detrimental to the lives of women, and can result in anorexia, bulimia, cutting, female genital mutilation, breast enhancement surgery, liposuction, face lifts, breast augmentation, vaginal reconstruction (where  the vaginal lips are trimmed or tucked) butt implants, etc and etc.
Some will be surprised to see on the aforementioned list "conventional" plastic surgeries offered in the west. Most people residing the west are quick to point to female genital mutilation as being harmful and detrimental to women while ignoring the ways in which western medicine has devised similar methods to alter the female form to conform to the idealized male gaze. It is this gaze that constructs and makes malleable the bodies of women. Some women would argue that we should support the right of women to make the choice to alter their bodies as they see fit. In fact, this is the argument used by pro-choice feminists to support abortion. This argument however is extremely problematic when applied to altering the body through surgical means. It is not a matter of autonomy when the action is not performed to please the individual. In this case, 'woman' is not only the eternal other to man, she is the other to herself, as the image that is sought is in total of opposition of the intent of nature.

Lets face facts, the only reason women seek to have their vaginas tightened is to please their male partners. While most if not all women can achieve orgasm through clitoral stimulation, a significantly smaller percentage are able to achieve orgasm through penetration. How many women spend time looking at their vaginas? They seek to reconstruct it on the "lucky" chance that a man will choose to perform cunnilingus and not like what they see. Men are visually stimulated and for them the sight of the female breast is pleasurable.  Even with the risk involved with silicone implants; surgical complications, back pain and scaring, women still run to the doctor to make male eyes bulge.

Women already earn 70 cents for every dollar a man makes. When they spend their few disposable dollars on these "enhancement" surgeries not only are they participating in essentializing the body, they are further impoverishing themselves. Everyday plastic surgeons and pharmaceutical companies are quick to tell us what is wrong with us, and how they can fix it. If you don't perform your gender, or torture your body in the attempt to conform there is something inherently wrong with you. Don't worry though they have  "magic happy pills" to fix you until you can make the right decision to have the surgery to "fix" what nature let go wrong. It is time that we start to use common sense. Stop making decisions that are influenced by others. Love yourself as you are. No matter how you change your body you will ultimately be the same person, and besides which do you really want a man that only chose you because of your new breasts? Do you really want a lover that demands a designer vagina? Stop being a DUPE and get real with yourself and your body!


13 comments:

Larry Geater said...

Some women would argue that we should support the right of women to make the choice to alter their bodies as they see fit. ... This argument however is extremely problematic when applied to altering the body through surgical means.

Not even a little bit. People should have the freedom to be as foolish as they like. Self mutilation included.

Meadester said...

Some men get plastic surgery, too. Are they also coerced?

Renee said...

@Larry and while we are at why intervene when perfectly healthy people try to commit suicide right? Who cares if it is harmful...

Renee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meadester said...

I had a chance to watch the video since I made the last comment. Since then I realized what the problem is - the woman in the video has an addiction (or a compulsion). It is possible to go overboard with many things not just alcohol and other drugs, gambling, and the like, but also shopping, sex, relationships, even eating. These things are not harmful in and of themselves, it is the misuse, particularly overuse that makes them so. Same with this woman and plastic surgery.

Renee said...

@Meadster here is the problem with this issue..her whole addiction began because she internalized an unrealistic body image. She said herself it started when someone was calling her fat. Imagine the emotional pain that she is in. Though she is an extreme example this sort of thing is an everyday occurrence. When our bodies don't fit what we have been socialized to believe is the norm people will discipline you in one way or another.

Zula said...

I was really bothered by how condescending and patronizing that talk-show host acted towards that woman. She obviously has psychological issues regarding self-esteem and self-image (brought on by internalizing the male gaze to a pathological degree, as you said), but he seemed to me to be teasing her.

Renee said...

@Zula all of these talk show hosts exploit the guests on their show. He certainly is no exception.

Larry Geater said...

I am tattooed and Pierced. Should I have been prevented from mutilating myself?

Renee said...

@Larry there is a difference between tattooing and altering the body through surgery.

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