This article considers the representation of gendered disability in The Men (Fred Zinnemann, 1950), Marlon Brando’s first film. A groundbreaking yet deeply ambiguous text, the film explores notions of normative and non-normative physicality through the lens of masculinity, sexuality, and their implications for human status. In the light of key works by disability scholars and of Judith Butler’s discussion of the cultural construction of the body, this article examines the multiple and subversive meanings made available by the film, and the extent to which The Men allows for a different bodily identity based on dissent.
Disability, Gender, and Discourse in The Men
Consider two instances of screened bodies. The first comes from the article published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy where a group of urologists and radiologists attempted to “confirm that it is feasible to take images of the male and female genitals during coitus and to compare this present study with previous theories and recent radiological studies of the anatomy during sexual intercourse” (Faix et al. 2002: 63). In their well-illustrated study of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) screen shots—often simplified and clarified with keyed line drawings—they address the history of trying to imagine and depict heterosexual intercourse, the movement, shape, and position of engaged male and female genitalia, and the factors affecting arousal and orgasm. (The study can only suggest the possibility of two types of vaginal orgasm as the man climaxes once during the experiment while the woman does not. Clitoral stimulation is mentioned but not pursued in the study.) The researchers assert the parameters of “normal” private and sexual lives and echo “natural” expectations with regard to sex, gender, sexuality, and sexual positions and practices. They involve themselves in visual analyses of drawings, sketches, ultrasound displays, and MRI monitors—discussing the details and features of the various technologies and the advantages and drawbacks of the different experimental conditions. They make a special note of “the couple” not experiencing difficulty having intercourse during the four sessions and mention the man’s consumption of Viagra.
An Interview with Ishmael Hope and Will Geiger on Tlingit House Screens and Indigenous Phenomenology
Sol Neely, Ishmael Hope and Will Geiger
On a cold, snowy January night in Juneau, Alaska, Will Geiger and I convened at Ishmael Hope’s home—with his wife, Lily, and their five children—for dinner and cordiality in advance of our recording session. The Hope family is exceedingly generous with their time and knowledge, and, as is the case whenever we gather at the Hope home, one can palpably discern the multigenerational inspirations and relations that sustain their work, artistry, and community involvement. Once the children went to bed, we dimmed the lights and pulled out our books.
When the editors of Screen Bodies told me that the journal was interested in expanding notions of screen beyond cinema, I inquired about the possibility of interviewing Ishmael Hope and others on Tlingit house screens and, by a kind of phenomenological appeal, of focusing the conversation through a concern for embodiment. Originally, Ishmael and I invited Will Geiger and Forest Haven, a brilliant Tsimshian PhD candidate from University of California, Irvine, to participate, but Forest was unfortunately unable to attend. Over the years, I have worked closely with these three on a number of academic projects, developing a tight and trusted friendship sustained by mutual respect and interwoven eruditions.
Class and Gender Dynamics among EU Civil Servants in Brussels
Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork between 2007 and 2011 in Brussels, this article shows how visual markers, class distinctions and classification of gender performances come together to create a ‘Euroclass’ among European civil servants. These markings, distinctions and classifications are denoted on bodily hexis and body performance and evoke stereotypes and essentialised representations of national cultures. However, after the enlargements of the EU in 2004 and 2007 they also reveal a postcolonial and imperial dynamic that perpetuates the division into ‘old’ and ‘new’ Europe and enables people from old member states to emerge as a different class that holds its cultural power firm in a dense political environment permeated by networks.
Communism and Epistemology in Iva Pekárková's Novel Truck Stop Rainbows
Drawing on feminist conceptualisations of the body, this essay analyses Iva Pekárková’s novel, Truck Stop Rainbows (published as Péra a Perutě [Feathers and wings] in 1989, translated into English in 1992), to show how this contemporary Czech writer challenges the metaphor of the female body as a container through which communist propaganda in Czechoslovakia offi cially sanctioned and established a normative female identity in maternal, economic and civic functions. I seek to demonstrate how Fialka, the female protagonist who lives under the Czechoslovak communist regime of the 1980s, critiques discursive and epistemic formations that conceptualised the female body as a vessel for reproduction and labour and denied the female body the authority to function as a source of knowledge. Striving to spotlight the body in its cognitive role, I argue for an understanding of the body not as an instrument of knowledge or a neutral medium that enables knowledge production but, rather, as a condition of the possibility of knowing.
Two Hong Kong Women Filmmakers' Perspectives on Sex after 1997
Hong Kong women have been taking up the camera to explore the changing nature of their identity. Linking the depiction of the gendered body with the demand for women’s rights as sexual citizens, several directors have examined changing attitudes toward women’s sexuality. Yau Ching, for example, interrogates the issues of sex work, the internet, and lesbian desire in Ho Yuk: Let’s Love Hong Kong (2002). Barbara Wong’s documentary, Women’s Private Parts (2001), however, uses the televisual talking head interview and observational camera to highlight the way women view their bodies within contemporary Chinese culture. By examining the common ground shared by these very different films, a vision of women’s sexuality emerges that highlights Hong Kong women’s struggle for full sexual citizenship.
Exploring the Sensorial Embodiment of Class
Camilla Hoffmann Merrild, Peter Vedsted and Rikke Sand Andersen
Social inequality in cancer survival is well known, and within public health promo- tion enhancing awareness of cancer symptoms is often promoted as a way to reduce social differences in stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis. In order to add to our knowledge of what may lie behind social inequalities in cancer survival encountered in many high-income countries, this article explores the situatedness of bodily sensations. Based on comparative ethnographic fieldwork, we argue that the socially and biologically informed body influences how people from lower social classes experience sensations. Overall, we point out how the sensorial is tied to the embodiment of the social situation in the sense that some bodies make more ‘noise’ than others. It follows that standardised approaches to improving early care seeking by increasing knowledge and awareness may overlook essential explanations of social differences in symptom appraisal.
Einat Bar-On Cohen
Training toward 'perfect timing' in karate entails deciphering small movements and interpreting them as signs of an opponent's decision to launch an attack. It includes the aptitude to perceive those signs and react to them before the attacker is aware of her own decision. It also depends on the ability of the body to perceive and move without recourse to cognition. This article considers the body in its own right as well as how it is involved in social construction. Following Sheet-Johnstone, the article contends that movement as it is performed is a tool of data collecting, sense making, and action. It attempts to show how movement organizes a social setting that enables intentionality and also opens up the possibility of violence obstructing that intentionality.
In this article I will discuss the human body, both physical and social, as an instrument of political and aesthetic power and will analyze the processes of its social construction, starting with the notion of Corpus Mysticum Christi as the metaphoric organizational structure of consensus to power. From the Low Middle Ages to the present day, we will observe how the treatment of the body has evolved and how present-day show business and politics make use of charisma, from typically conceived 'concentrated stardom' to a conception of 'diffused stardom'. Both models are given aesthetic significance and rhetorical amplification, thus resulting in images of power and a means of social control. The conclusion of the article examines how power relations are currently being affected in a social environment that is highly influenced by the media and how, no matter which era is being discussed, the existence of the social body still depends on the physical body.