From a scientific standpoint, the body is made of complex systems that work together to create a physical structure that houses our brain and spinal cord. A body has mass, takes up space. A body has features that hold it together. Human bodies typically have a head, shoulder, knees, and toes. Bodies are pigmented, racialized, stigmatized, and ostracized. Bodies are beautiful, bodies have their own jurisdiction, bodies are fragile. Bodies develop, bodies live, then bodies die. These are the “facts” that science, art, and philosophy have studied extensively for centuries. How we interpret the body depends on the perspective we choose to embark on.
Dr. Robb’s unit questioned our ultimate reality. Conceptual schemes make up our subjective perspective on the world and our bodies are subject to these schemes. This unit focused on a philosophical aspect of how the body represents. Experiences are subjective thus knowledge is subjective. Allegories, debates, bullshits, and multiple readings later, Unit 1 showed me that the body is deceptive, untrustworthy, and inconclusive.
How can we trust that our experiences are real?
Entering Dr. Fache’s unit, it almost seemed degrading to ask that question. How dare I question and invalidate the lives of the oppressed who know they are being treated unfairly? Bodies are very clearly sexualized, this is real. Look at Baartman, look at Beyonce, look at Black Bodies. To question the reality of these experiences would be to question the justification of oppression. Black bodies are placed at a disadvantage throughout history. The Hottentot Venus gave her body up for the sake of her profession, so did Beyonce. The body can be oppressed, praised, and degraded; this makes it real.
How do we manipulate the body to express ourselves?
Dr. Bory’s unit challenged me to go back to my understanding of the body as a vessel. In sports, we are tasked with overcoming the intrinsic limitations that the body has, pushing the limit-line further back to excel at something a common human cannot do. Comparing the Buck Dance to The Hottentot Venus’ performances to Beyonce’s Lemonade album, Black Bodies undergo immense emotional and physical strain for merely existing. Thinking about the working of Ralph Lemon and his dance that disappears. Dancing is a form of expression that manipulates the body into conveying emotions, humanity.
How do we know if our body is being represented well enough.
Dr. Robbs’ unit provided insight on the dangers of a Single Story. A culmination of subjective single stories that are used to manipulate our understanding of history that is shown in Dr. Luis’ unit. A case study everything is a case study. Historical misrepresentation of bodies are commonly found in school curriculums and history books. Condensing the lives of a society into a single sentence on paper is a difficult task, but real nonetheless. This goes back to the notion that bodies communicate and take in humanity. We are all a petri dish of the people around us.
How vulnerable are we?
Dr. Wills’ unit showed us that bodies can be a part of religion and faith. Religious aspects often shape our humanity and is an easy justifier of our actions. This is a lazy way of saying we blame and praise the world on “God.” Sex, in a catholic context, is frowned upon premaritally. Growing up in the catholic church, I was reinforced to stay “pure” by not giving into my “sexual demons.” At 16 I was hyper-sexualized by the same church and my perspective on the purity of men changed drastically. In sex, the raw intersection between a man and a woman, a man gives himself. The body has the potential to be vulnerable and subject to a higher being.
How can we make the most of our bodies?
Dr. Denham’s conclusive unit focused on the radical, feminist body. A refreshing change from focusing on previously oppressed bodies, a powerful body emerges. In one of our group discussions, we discussed the question of “who gets to decide whether we live or die?” We called it “aggressive self defense” due it its revolutionary and Godly component. Bodies have the range to express itself in a violent and benevolent nature. Bodies have depth.