So I just had a forehead-slapping moment with regards to the whole male-body-bonding thing, and it was precipitated by Maya’s comment chez Hugo:
Even in American society, I think women have a very different relationship to their bodies than men do. Our bodies are admired, but not respected. Our insistence of power over our own bodies, especially when it comes to sex and birth control, seems to scare the living daylights out of a good portion of the population. The greatest fear I have of an unwanted pregnancy (and the reason I would have an abortion) is not the effect it would have on my education and career, not the pain of pregnancy and childbirth, not the unwanted responsibilities of parenthood. The thing that inspires absolute terror in my very gut is the prospect of losing control over my body, of being told that my bodily integrity is not important. If abortion is outlawed, I must give up control of what happens to my body to something I did not choose, and do not want.
I’m not sure that (American) men have this same constant low-level fear that their right to their own body may be taken away at any moment, whether through rape, “decency” laws like those in Iran, unwanted pregnancy, or harassment. Perhaps they do; but I think the way our society fears and admires female bodies without respecting them colors the way we all relate to our own bodies.
Not being fascinated by one’s experience of one’s own body is an artifact of privilege. And it took me, a Feminist Conspirator in good standing, how long to reach this conclusion? Someone send a note to the Brainwashing Subcommittee, it’s time to revise the curricular materials; blaming the patriarchy should be a considerably faster response.
The usual cavills and anti-generalizations apply, of course. Society’s expectations of bodies aren’t the only things that can remind us about how weird it is to be made of meat (and let’s face it, that’s a pretty fucking weird experience at times, for everyone). But society’s expectations of my uterus and my breasts and my fatty tissue provide plenty frequent reminders that hey! I’m not a brain in a jar! There’s this whole rest of me that matters!
I don’t know that this is such a bad thing. It’s good to pay attention to problems with culture and embodiedness and blah blah blah, so I still insist that men are missing out when they find themselves uninterested in how wearing male meat shapes their lives. After all, your testicles make you human.
I cannot believe I just almost used the words “man meat” in a sentence.