Women's Culture in Society

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1. Sirena J. Riley, “The Black Beauty Myth”
2. Nomy Lamm, “It’s a Big Fat Revolution”

* Is ‘health’ an objective, neutral, or stable concept? How do we measure it? * No it is not neutral or stable. Health is measured on certain medical statistics, but the type of questions asked or the type of people analyzed vary based on sex, . Health standards vary according to climate, age, height, class, diet, gender, race, and bodily configurations. All of these influence health as a concept. The body is never in a state of perfect optimum health. Have a cold? Not enough sleep? Tripped on the way to class and have a bruise? The body is always in an ever-fluctuating state. Health also depends on what people feel about themselves. “What’s important is that I feel healthy.” * What are some assumptions we tend to make about race, class, and body image? * We tend to make the assumption that only white females have body image issues. We also tend to make the assumption that African-American females are all satisfied with their bodies and are proud of them. We also tend to associate being overweight with poverty. * How is weight preoccupation a form of imaginary control? * It’s a form of imaginary control because weight and food controls your mind and body when you have this preoccupation. Everything that you do is centered on your weight and how it will be affected. This will then control your actions and thoughts and just have control over your life in general. Psychological. * How might the ‘fat’ body be seen as a threat to ‘acceptable’ norms of behavior? * The fat body can be considered a threat because it challenges the acceptable norms of behavior. In this ideal society that people dream up, everyone is skinny, or at least of athletic build. However, those that are overweight challenge this vision and the acceptable norms of behavior. * Consumption and the links between body image, capitalism, and power: * What we eat, what we buy and consuming the other (through surveillance, the objectifying sexual gaze, or exploitation of resources) * There are three ways to think about consumption. Literally, what we eat or put into our bodies. What we buy. And how we consume the 'other' in terms of objectification (the male gaze, the Orientalist gaze, etc.) or even, literally, in terms of exploitation of resources, etc. This relates to body image, capitalism, and power in many ways. For example, what we choose to eat and buy is directly related to how we experience our bodies. How we experience our bodies is linked to social norms reinforced by the way others perceive us (stereotypes about fatness, skin color, etc.). Through commodity fetishism and the manufacturing of desire, we are convinced that our bodies are inadequate and, thus, in need of the endless stream of products available through capitalism. Further, many of these products are produced by the invisible labor of young women of color. In our endless search for the elusive 'perfect' body, look, life, we participate in power relations that exploit others.

3. Angela Davis, “Racism, Birth Control, and Reproductive Rights”

* What is Davis’ critique of the 1970s birth control movement? * Davis’ critique is that sterilization abuse has to be stopped. She says “what is urgently required is a broad campaign to defend the reproductive rights of all women—and especially those women whose economic circumstances often compel them to relinquish the right to reproduction itself.” * How is the history of this movement both racist and classist (dating back to the 19th century)? * Basically, they would force sterilization on those that were colored. They would sometimes say that they would not see a patient unless they agreed to be sterilized. Likewise, if white women were poor, they would be grouped with these people. Basically, this forced upon sterilization was forced upon the “unfit”, as they put it. It was forced...
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