What makes a woman’s body

4 comments

I had started our Winter Reading session taking a queue from @bnsunshine ignoring the count of pages this time around, inspiring me to read longer articles on the World Wide Web. Then, reading this article thanks to @julienaslund5866 who pointed us all towards aeon.co — I thought best to cross-post here. I am curious your thoughts!

https://aeon.co/essays/womens-bodies-emerge-on-the-shoreline-between-biology-and-culture

4 comments on “What makes a woman’s body”

  1. Wow, borkali, this sent me on so many interesting pathways of thinking and wondering. I am fascinated by this exploration of the line, the interplay, between biology and culture. To tease the two apart, to look at them separately and together. I felt, at turns, either all powerful or disheartened as I read this. Some lines that jumped out at me –

    ” …the body is a biocultural artefact: stories, concepts and ideas are a large part of what makes our bodies meaningful to us.”

    “We do have bodies, and they can shape and even create our reality. But those bodies aren’t passive or fixed or silent, and they interact with and absorb culture across the lifespan.”

    “One explanation for this data is that women are being systematically trained, from an early age, to perceive themselves from the outside-in.”

    “The average time to diagnosis for endometriosis is 12 years in the US.
    During these years, where does that pain go? Is it just lived in, like a corset or high heels, embraced as an emblem of womanhood, suppressed at school or in the workplace? Or is it channelled into other mental states such as self-perceptions, emotions and attributions about the world?”

    “Like hunger and pain, emotions are the brain’s insights: they signal underlying biological and structural realities and serve as important communication tools when seeking support. It’s important that we teach women (and individuals of all genders) how to mine these insights within themselves.”

    “Seeing, hearing, smelling and feeling all require a body and an act of meaning-making. This is a collective enterprise, forged within systems of power that constrain how individuals experience themselves and the world around them. A pang of hunger, a twinge of pain, a deep hollow sense of dread: these experiences are not benign, nor are they essential or invariant. They are at once enculturated and embodied – and most of all, they’re worth listening to.”

    How the brain processes sensory information and internal signals, then filters all of it through a cultural map, a learned and contructed understanding of the world just blows my tiny mind. They are inseparable. And the awareness of the interplay between them is empowering. Woah…

    Thank you for this, borkali. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I found the entire article very thought provoking. I know that I have been collecting emotional pain of all kinds my entire life, and now it is compounded by chronic physical pain. I found this quote particularly relevant to my experience: “During these years, where does that pain go? Is it just lived in, like a corset or high heels, embraced as an emblem of womanhood, suppressed at school or in the workplace?” I will pass on this important article; it should be widely read. Thank you for posting it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Barbara, when I was a younger person with no experience of chronic physical pain, I knew someone (a woman) whose words, when she was asked how her back pain was, stuck with me & came to mean a lot to me: “It is my constant companion.”

      Liked by 2 people

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