In this provocative book, Susan Bordo untangles the myths, ideologies, and pathologies of the modern female body. Bordo explores our tortured fascination with food, hunger, desire, and control, and its effects on women's lives.
Considering everything from Nike ads, emaciated models, and surgically altered breasts to the culture wars and the O.J. Simpson trial, Susan Bordo deciphers the hidden life of cultural images and the impact they have on our lives. She builds on the provocative themes introduced in her acclaimed work _Unbearable Weight_—which explores the social and political underpinnings of women's obsession with bodily image—to offer a singularly readable and perceptive interpretation of our image-saturated culture. As it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between (...) appearance and reality, she argues, we need to rehabilitate the notion that not all versions of reality are equally trustworthy. Bordo writes with deep compassion, unnerving honesty, and bracing intelligence. Looking to the body and bodily practices as a concrete arena where cultural fantasies and anxieties are played out, she examines the mystique and the reality of empowerment through cosmetic surgery. Her brilliant discussion of sexual harassment reflects on the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill controversy as well as the film _Disclosure_. She suggests that sexuality, although one of the mediums of harassment, is not its essence, and she calls for the recasting of harassers as bullies rather than sex fiends. Bordo also challenges the continuing marginalization of feminist thought, in particular the failure to read feminist work as cultural criticism. Finally, in a powerful and moving essay called "Missing Kitchens"—written in collaboration with her two sisters—Bordo explores notions of bodies, place, and space through a recreation of the topographies of her childhood. Throughout these essays, Bordo avoids dogma and easy caricature. Consistently, and on many levels, she demonstrates the profound relationship between our lives and our theories, our feelings and our thoughts. (shrink)
Contributors are Susan Bordo, Stanley Clarke, Erica Harth, Leslie Heywood, Luce Irigaray, Genevieve Lloyd, Mario Moussa, Eileen O'Neill, Adrianna Paliyenko, Ruth Perry, Mario Sáenz, Karl Stern, Thomas Wartenberg, and James Winders.
Putting classical art to the side for the moment, the naked and near-naked female body became an object of mainstream consumption first in Playboy and its imitators, then in movies, and only then in fashion photographs. With the male body, the trajectory has been different. Fashion has taken the lead, the movies have followed. Hollywood may have been a chest-fest in the fifties, but it was male clothing designers [e.g., Calvin Klein] who went south and violated the really powerful taboos--not (...) just against the explicit depiction of penises and male bottoms but against the admission of all sorts of forbidden "feminine" qualities into mainstream conceptions of manliness. . . . Images of masculinity that will do double (or triple or quadruple) duty with a variety of consumers, straight and gay, male and female, are not difficult to create in a culture like ours, in which the muscular, male body has a long and glorious aesthetic history. (shrink)
Over the last twenty‐five years, feminist theory has been at the forefront of cultural, disciplinary, and philosophical critique. Yet feminists continue to be represented as engaged in specialized projects of concern only to women or, at best, those interested in “gender issues.” I argue that this is not merely a bit of residual sexism, but a powerful conceptual map which keeps feminist scholarship, no matter how broad its concerns, located in the region of what Simone de Beauvoir called “the Other.” (...) I expose, critique, and explore the consequences of this construction in several contemporary intellectual arenas. (shrink)
My response to the preceding commentaries draws on recent events such as the Thomas/Hill hearings to illustrate some of my central arguments in “Feminist Skepticism and the ‘Maleness’ of Philosophy.” I also attempt to clarify frequently misunderstood aspects of my use of gender as an analytical category, and discuss why, in my opinion, we should continue to care about the “maleness” of philosophy.
The sixteen essays in Gender Struggles address a wide range of issues in gender struggles, from the more familiar ones that, for the last thirty years, have been the mainstay of feminist scholarship, such as motherhood, beauty, and sexual violence, to new topics inspired by post-industrialization and multiculturalism, such as the welfare state, cyberspace, hate speech, and queer politics, and finally to topics that traditionally have not been seen as appropriate subjects for philosophizing, such as adoption, care work, and the (...) home. (shrink)