Category Archives: feminism

Bring donuts for Love Your Body Day

This Thursday, October 18, is apparently Love Your Body day.

We all know about the unrealistic and degrading presentation of women’s bodies in the media, blah blah blah. They hand out those notes on the first day of Feminism 101. I’m not saying that’s not a problem.

I’m irritated by the Love Your Body site because it implies that external physical appearance is the only reason to love your body. Most of their example ads in both the “Offensive to Women” (They can’t really think those are only offensive to women, can they? Nice reverse sexism.) and “Positive Ads” section focus on the idea of beauty.

They seem to be concentrating their attention on convincing all women that they are beautiful, and assuming that will solve problems with body image and self-esteem. But to my thinking, all that does is validate a point of view that in an ideal world would be completely irrelevant. You can redefine the notion of beauty all you want, but it’s still a focus on external appearance, and that’s what irritates me. I don’t get why you need to convince women that they’re beautiful in order to convince them they should love their bodies.

The primary function of my body is not to be a decorative object, no matter how loosely “decorative” is defined. The purpose of my body is to be my vehicle for experiencing the world. I couldn’t care less how frizzy my hair looks or how wrinkly my skin gets, as long as I get to run fast and go places and taste food and look at pretty things. Why would I not love the tool that carries my brain around so I can have all that fun?

So, Love Your Body, everyone. Feed it some pizza and beer, and thank it for the delicious taste sensation and nifty digesting functionality with optional belching feature. Bodies rule.

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Howabout an episiotomy, Mr. Bradbury?

I’m reading Fahrenheit 451 for book club. It’s been years since I last read it – all I remembered from my previous reading was the general premise and the protagonist Montag trying to cross a road ten lanes wide. A lot of the detail of the book slipped my mind, including the bizarre anti-Caesarean section rants in Part 2:

Mrs Bowles:

“I’ve had two children by cesarean section. No use going through all that agony for a baby. The world must reproduce you know, the race must go on…Two Caesarians turned the trick, yes sir. Oh, my doctor said, Caesarians aren’t necessary; you’ve got the hips for it, everything’s normal, but I insisted.”

Montag to Mrs Bowles:

“Go home and think of your first husband divorced and your second husband killed in a jet and your third husband blowing his brains out, go home and think of the dozen abortions you’ve had, go home and think of that and your damn Caesarian sections, too, and your children who hate your guts! Go home and think how it all happened and what did you ever do to stop it?”

So, the reader is informed that in Bradbury’s anti-intellectual dystopia, women are prey to such evils as divorce, suicide, abortion and Caesarian sections.

I get that the book was written in 1953, well before the sexual revolution and women’s lib. Gender-role stereotyping is to be expected. And I get that he is trying to show that his female characters are divorced from a natural life in that they don’t sleep and they spend all their time talking to televisions. Bradbury is known to be anti-technology. By not having natural childbirth, his women are in essence not being female and by extension not living normal human lives.

But, come on. Caesarians? Even if you accept as given that childbearing is the fulfillment of female life, and that C-sections are a perversion of that, he’s still implying that the women got knocked up the old-fashioned way and gestated for nine months before delivery. If he wanted to have women being separated from their supposed reproductive purpose, he should have had the fetuses gestating in glass tubes on a conveyor belt, like Aldous Huxley did 20 years earlier.

I think it’s a pretty striking failure of imagination. I know that criticizing mid-century SF authors for not thinking deeply about women’s issues is like…uh…criticizing Harlequin romances for not having enough rocketry …. but, if Bradbury would have thought for 2 minutes about the impact of technology on women’s reproductive health, he would have handled the matter of childbirth differently. I think it’s pretty obvious that he didn’t put any thought into it at all beyond “caesarians are unnatural, therefore they prove my point about the corrosive effects of technology on society”. And, ok, the book’s not about childbirth, but all the other symbols and motifs in the book make sense, so this one sticks out.

I almost prefer the approach of some of Bradbury’s less socially-minded contemporaries, like Eric Frank Russell or Hal Clement. They just ignore women completely, which pisses me off a lot less than Bradbury’s hamhanded women-as-metaphor.