Friday, April 30, 2010

Blog 7: Body Modification Pt. 2

Body Modification can be a complex process both physically and psychologically. People who decide to modify there body through medical procedures must pay large amounts of money for specific procedures. The process of getting body modification is turned into complete consumerism of buying “pieces” of the body. A human’s body is not only turned into an object, but individual body parts are being also being changed and altered like pieces to a jigsaw puzzle. American society has turned body modification into a materialistic process by treating the overall body like an object.

A person who chooses to modify their body through medical procedures must deal with gender and social stigmas, but still as the individual choice of going through the process. America does give citizens the right to their freedom of choice, but is this freedom being broken through itemizing the body? The informational website on body modifications that we looked at for class, describes these procedures in great detail. But the format of the website categorizes many of the body parts based on price of procedure. Descriptions of procedures often include warnings along the lines as; “it’s a financial burden, but if you decide to bare it then do this…” shows how the choice of body modification is not necessarily promoted. But if a person does decide to bear the financial burdens of body modification, then the website can lead them to a variety of procedures that may be done through categorizing specific body areas.

Another example of body parts being itemized is through personal stories of transgender. People who choose to physically modify their body in order to appear a specific gender. Going through a transformation of the body through extensive surgeries, medication, and other techniques of a transgender can be a psychological battle. By making the body an object makes decisions and procedures even more difficult. The personal stories discussed in class did not specifically mention body parts as objects. But the way the stories focused around altered body parts as defining a person’s gender reinforced the notion of itemizing body parts. If a person has the time and money to get reconstructive surgery on specific areas of the body, then they can be what ever gender they want to be. This is how easy the change in body parts makes a transformation for a transgender to achieve.

American society has stripped down and turned the body into a tangible puzzle that can be reassembled through medical procedures. In order to identify a person’s gender, one must identify the body parts. Many resources for body modification information cannot help but categorize physical procedures as if they are individual objects to be added, removed, or adjusted on a person’s body. Even though the choice of modification lies in the hands of the patient, society is pressuring people to feel the desire for itemizing their bodies. Transgender people are a perfect example of a social group that is being pressured to itemize their bodies through gender-alterations. The medical procedures may be expensive, but the way in which it is advertised sounds so simple. A cut here, a stitch-up here, and you are a new person with a new gender! But it is not this simple and body parts are not pieces to a puzzle. Instead, body parts are features that may enhance a person’s gendered appearance, but does not solely define a person’s gender identification.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blog 6: Body Modification

Who has the power and authority to say what is right and what is wrong within a culture? Technically, no country should have power over any other country’s cultural and social existence. The issue of body imagery causes debate on whether America is normalizing their own practices and pointing fingers in disbelief towards others’. For example, if an American citizen took a bird’s eye view of the techniques used to maintain, enhance, and display “correct” body imagery, I would strongly predict that this person would realize how blinded they are by their culture. From an outsider’s view, things such as artificial tanning, body-building, extreme dieting, and cosmetic surgery appear to make no sense, and even cause unnecessary harm on citizens. But the variety of choices many Americans can make towards how they uphold their body imagery shows the individualism within our culture.

Individualism, in relation to body image, means that each citizen is mostly concerned with them selves, and therefore spends the extra time, money, and energy to maintain or change the body they have. This may be done in the ways previously stated, but also in many other techniques that come in a variety of forms and styles. Although many of these body-imagery practices are technically unhealthy on many levels, our culture accepts it and therefore normalizes the physical and mental obstructions of our bodies.

In contrast, American views towards indigenous countries’ body-imagery practices will most likely be negative and ignorant. So is America enforcing their generalization upon other cultures? I believe so because American citizens are used to individualism. In contrast, many other cultures and societies focus on the collectivism of its people. For example, in ancient China, females starting from the early ages of childhood would begin the process of foot-binding. This entails of breaking the arch of the foot and tightly wrapping the foot in bandages, which would cause excruciating pain. An initial reaction from an American may be, “I can’t believe they would do that to the women!” But one must take into account that the females didn’t necessarily have a choice, due to social rites of passage and the dominance of the patriarchy. Also, it was something Chinese women did as part of their culture, whether or not it was healthy and humane to do so. But women did in order to be a part in their community.

In comparison, women in America who have breast-augmentation surgery will go through pain after their surgery, and even loose sensual feeling in that area. Not only is there a major difference of modernization verses ancient history, but also the fact of an individual’s choice. The woman is focusing on increasing her chances to be successful through her body-imagery, but does not necessarily need the surgery to survive among her people. Women in ancient China did not exactly have a choice to not have their feet bound because they would risk losing their rite of passage within society and having a family. Not only would it greatly decrease a woman’s chance of marrying, but also of the possibility of being disowned by her own family. This shows how the practice of foot-binding does not focus on the individual, but on the community as a whole and for the better of the people.

Body imagery is a complicated topic to justify, explain, and even comprehend. But this does not mean that there is any one country that has control over all other countries of what type of body imagery is appropriate. But I think there are many contradictions towards the safety and humanity of the people who are personally experiencing techniques for their body image. This does not mean American citizens have the right to degrade and undermine others’ practices, because that would be contradicting themselves into thinking their practices do not affect one’s health. A country’s history of culture always needs to be taken into consideration, not just the action itself of someone’s body image. We have to ask ourselves if body image is being expressed and practiced through the individual, or through a whole community.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Blog 5: Body Image

An individual's body image is controlled by the physical power over their body, which creates their self-identity within society. This control is being done both by the individual and the culture they are living in. For example, the reading about the football players and other male athletes shows how males are forced to physically control their bodies and restrain to reveal pain in order to uphold their masculinity within American society. The masculine body image creates the ideal for self-identity for these male athletes and pressures them to silence and endure their pain, even to hazardous levels. Pain/injuries are then being normalized within American society and by individuals in order uphold the self-identity of a masculine body image. This image also increases the competition for "successful" images of masculinity through aggression, strength, and unhealthy levels of endurance, which are pathways to self-identity as a male. Not only are male athletes straining themselves to be extremely masculine men, but are silencing themselves, or by coaches and peers, of showing and expressing any amount of pain. Male athletes even go so far as to denying pain and injuries and "intense pain is controlled an masked" (Sabo and Gorden 173).

An example of female body control is anorexia. Anorexia serves as a pathway to achieving a cultured self-identity through the physical control over the female body. Again, both the individual and culture is controlling the body because society is controlling the stereotype and norm, and women are then controlling their bodies in order to gain their self-identity within the stereotype. Women are typically associated with their bodies more than men, and therefore anorexia fits perfectly into the trend of women being associated with the thinness of their bodies. Anorexia is a way to help them achieve, in an unhealthy manner, their goal of self-identity by cutting of food intake through self-control over the mind and body. The control over not eating or having an unhealthy and irregular diet are the main skills needed to be an anorexic. In order to have control of establishing self-identity, a woman must have control over her body image through the physical control through something like anorexia.

Both women and men want an identity, but the pressure and force of American society and culture defines identity as self-control over the body. Therefore, men and women must learn how to either silence their pain or starve themselves to gain their self-identity through their bodies. The imagery of the body has taken priority over the male and female health because the physical control of the body is being attained through unnatural and unhealthy techniques such as injury-endurance and eating habits. Physical alterations and unnatural control are being naturalized, which creates the body image that establishes a person's identity. Men and women must then unnaturalize themselves in order to become the redefined version of what is physically natural for one's body image. Body image within American society is distorted and inaccurate, yet it has become the norm that pressures citizens to uphold the stereotypes in order to gain self-identity through their body.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Reproduction and Health Pt 2

Positive and negative views of reproduction systems/process is based off of which gender is being discussed. For example, in the readings on the female reproductive system has a negative label because the menstrual cycle and menopause are burdens to women.
The media reinforces the side effects of menstruation as "bitchiness", mood swings, and having emotional out-breaks when a female has her period. The media does this through advertising medications that will help control the emotional "problems" that women may encounter once a month. The problem is that why try to control things that are happening naturally to a female body? And why is there such a negative condensation of the experiences women go through due to their reproductive organs? American society has caused the naturalness of females to be unnatural and bad; something to watch out for and avoid. Not only are women expected to take medications or alter the levels of their side-effects during menstruation, but other people should be aware and cautious too, according to class discussion.
Also, the media reinforces these stereotypes through television, such as the Golden Girls clip viewed in class. In this clip, the female characters discuss the burdens and struggles women endure during menopause. They mention the side-effects of hot flashes, mood swings, and losing some of their femininity after the menopausal process is completed. Through this discussion, it was obvious that they were trying to mock and make fun of the fact women go through menopause, turning a natural process into a joke. This is another way in which media causes American society to perceive reproduction systems of females as a negative occurrence.
On the flip-side, men have been catered way to enhance their reproduction bodily functions such as products that can increase sperm count, sexual arousal, and anything that indicates the increase of a man's masculinity. Men are expected to increase their natural reproductive organs that produce sperm and cause erections, which would enhance and sustain their reproductive ability. As discussed in the past week's readings, there are legal drugs that may be prescribed by a doctor to help a man sustain his sperm count and his ability to have an erection. These medications are given a positive label through the media's advertisements and other sources of marketing such products.
Male reproductive systems have been given positives labels because men create the patriarchy that rules American society. Men must sustain their masculinity through the performance of their reproductive organs in orders to uphold the patriarchy. Women and their reproductive systems are looked down upon because the natural process of their cycles are a burden to both the female experiencing menstruation or menopause and the person not experiencing. As for men who are given priority of attention towards upholding and sustaining their reproductive systems as a positive process. Importance and positive labels is given to the males; the patriarchy.