some remarks

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Ankara, Turkey
I'm just a sociologist astonished by the marvelous sense of humor of the universe! So, why not be a bad hat?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

'my body' bearing on an iffy avowal

"my body, my decision" "my girlfriend's body, her decision" "my body, my decision"

The resent debates about abortion in Turkey and our slogans against the 'pro-life' argument have made me think on the body again. I've just revisited Butler's Precarious Life, and rethinking the feminism in Turkey, a couple of paragraphs stuck in my mind tonight. Coming up with such a slogan asserting "my body, my decision", we might be overwhelmed the sense of autonomy which we consider belongs to us. The decision and the control over "my body" does not imply a simple ownership and rights. The institutionalization and instrumentalization of "my body" is of course a matter of the fight, though. Each time the state, its apparatuses and the patriarch encounter "my body" with the very presence of my vagina and womb, they also have to  face with their 'private' functions in the body of mine. And I enjoy that moment where they writhe in agony to neglect this cruel fact. I can read this in the face of those who feels menaced by me suffering the monthly cramps due to my period. It would be fine by them if I keep the reason of my feeling sick to myself and do not make them aware of the fact that I have a 'bleeding vagina'. 

"women do masturbate, too" March 8, 2012 / Istanbul-Taksim

Although Butler illustrates the relation of the body and the conceptualization of the death to mourning and grief, those paragraphs cited below may also be pertinent to the claim for 'my body', and its cultural existence, and the possibility of feminism in Turkey which has oscillated like a pendulum between the 'East' and the 'West' so far.

Judith Butler, 2004, Precarious Life: the power of mourning and violence, Verso: London & NY

The body implies mortality, vulnerability, agency: the skin and the flesh expose us to the gaze of others but also to touch and to violence, and the bodies put us at risk of becoming the agency and instrument of all these as well. Although we struggle for rights over our own bodies, the very bodies for which we struggle are not quite ever only our own. The body has its invariably public dimension. Constituted as a social phenomenon in the public sphere, my body is and is not mine. Given over from the start to the world of others, it bears their imprint, is formed within the crucible of social life; only later and with some uncertainty, do I lay claim to my body as my own, if, in fact, I ever do. Indeed, if I deny that prior to the formation of my "will," my body related me to others whom I did not choose to have in proximity to myself, if I build a notion of "autonomy" on the basis of the denial of this sphere of a primary and unwilled physical proximity with others, then am I denying the social conditions of my embodiment in the name of autonomy?
(p. 26)

There will be differences among women, for instance, on what the role of reason is in contemporary politics. Spivak insists that it is not reason that politicizes the tribal women of India suffering exploitation by capitalist firms, but a set of values and a sense of the sacred that come through religion. And Adriana Caverero claims that it is not because we are reasoning beings that we are connected to one another, but, rather, because we are exposed to one another, requiring a recognition that does not substitute the recognizer for the recognized.
(p. 48)

What allows us to encounter one another? What are the conditions of possibility for an international feminist coalition? My sense is that to answer these questions, we cannot look to the nature of "man," or the a priori conditions of language, or the timeless conditions of communication. We have to consider the demands of cultural translation that we assume to be part of an ethical responsibility (over and above explicit prohibitions against thinking the Other under the sign of the "human") as we try to think the global dilemmas that women face. It is not possible to impose a language of politics developed within First World contexts on women who are facing the threat of imperialist economic exploitation and cultural obliteration. On the other hand, we would be wrong to think that the First World is here and the Third World is there, that a second world is somewhere else, that a subaltern subtends these divisions. These topographies have shifted, and what was once thought of as a border, that which delimits and bounds, is a highly populated site, if not the very definition of the nation, confounding identity in what may well become a very auspicious direction.
(p. 49)

Arcade Fire - "My Body is a Cage" (from the album Neon Bible)
(ended like a hipster)

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