A Summary Of The Body In Society


Subject & Object: we have learned how our body is both the subject and the object. For example, when looking in the mirror and becoming aware of your physical body, as you’re the subject when looking and the reflection is the object. I found this relevant to my project proposal, as I am working on gender identity. My work is casts of my own hand, therefore I am the subject and the object, as the casts are a representation of myself.

Gender: we have learned about heterosexuality, binary, hegemonic and non-hegemonic men, how there seems to be more power for the male gender rather than the female gender, as well as different masculine identities. I found the information on hegemonic and non-hegemonic quite relevant, as well as informative, because Ashley spoke about how different identities of men. Men who wear suits were perceived as powerful and wealthy, so they were classed as hegemonic. Those who were an expert in a field, were classed as geeks and often were not seen in suits, so were non-hegemonic men. However, recently, non-hegemonic men have been climbing up the hierarchy, especially with the popularity of TV Show ‘The Big Bang Theory’, which is all based on non-hegemonic men who are experts in their fields, are classed as ‘geeks’ and wear pop-culture clothing. The character ‘Penny’ is portrayed as a stereotypical dumb-blonde, which to me, references how men are perceived to be more powerful than that of women.

Cultural history: we learned about how the body in art has evolved over the centuries. For example, in the 17th century, only those who were of wealth and power had their portraits taken; most appeared well-fed, dressed to show their wealth and appeared healthy. Whereas, those who weren’t wealthy or powerful never had their portraits painted, couldn’t afford luxuries such as meat or fine clothing. Alongside that, I found it interesting to learn how the body has been perceived through the ages. For example, anorexia isn’t a recent epidemic and has existed for a long quantity of time.

Panopticon: we learned about the Panopticon effect, where there is a tall tower in the centre of a building, with jail cells surrounding it. The idea is to irregulate bad behaviour. For example, those who didn’t fit into ‘society’s norms’, such as a mental patient, homosexual or a transgender person. The concept behind the Panopticon is being self-conscious; always aware of if you’re being watched or not, as well as being unable to perceive being watched.

Identities: we learned about how they shift between the collective and the individual. For example, because I am transgender therefore I can identify with a larger group of people who are the same. This is a form of identity, that relates to gender. I will be undergoing Hormone Replacement Therapy which will change my voice and my facial features, as well as spread-out surgeries that will fulfill who I have always identified as. It’s also about how how people want their bodies to portray and visually communicate who they truly are or a sense of their personality / interests.

Consumerism: we learned about how Consumerism is predominantly about the body. It links in with embodiment and body projects, because it’s about people trying to ‘sell’ you things. For example, new sportswear, watches, cosmetics, dental hygiene, tattoos, piercings etc. The concept behind consumerism / sales is to sell you an idea, by trying to persuade you that you lack a certain item / object in your life and you need it to fulfill your lifestyle choices.

Social media: we have learned about social media impacts our daily lives, especially around body image. For example, advertisements were aimed at insecure teenagers. Now however, they will be posting these perfect ‘selfies’ on Instagram that aren’t true to their real-life identities, such as gym selfies. This links to practically everything that has been covered in the study group, because it’s predominantly looking at consumerism, how we use our bodies as a project, how we identify and how we are perceived as the subject and the object. Not to mention, being self-conscious which also references back to the Panopticon effect. Social media puts a lot of pressure onto people to be the ‘perfect size’ or look a certain way. This often leads to plastic surgery due to their lack of self-esteem or confidence and their insecurities.


Author: lawrenceaaronmaker

Studying a BA Hons in Artist, Designer; Maker at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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