October 27, 2014
Response to “Breathe Upon Us an Even Flame”
Overall I found this article interesting and informative. I had never heard of Hephaestus before or even the mention of a Greek God with a disability, which may give insight into the way in which disabilities are viewed and treated. I was happy that, for the most part, his disability was celebrated and viewed as positive. Toward the end of the article when the author tells Hephaestus's story, it is shown that his disability was seen as negative, but mainly it is celebrated. Depicting a Greek God with a disability as being extremely intelligent and crafty expresses the notion that the mind overpowers the body. A person should not be judged by the ability of their body, rather, they should be judged by the ability of their mind.
The article talks in depth about metis. Like Hephaestus's story, I had never heard of this concept, which makes me question the educational system. This term “manifests itself as flair, forethought, subtlety of mind, deception, resourcefulness, vigilance, opportunism, and experience acquired over the years.” Essentially it is a combination of the positive qualities a person can possess and should strive for. It “values bodily differences as generative of meaning.” Ideally, this is how all of society would see differences. Instead of everyone trying to be exactly the same and attempting to become the ideal image of beauty, people should focus on improving their minds and embrace the fact that they are different and, therefore, unique. Flaws should be accepted as part of who a person is. While this is ideal, the concept of perfection is so deeply engrained in the minds of every generation that it would be close to impossible to achieve this goal.
The author's concept of normalcy was also interesting. He states, “Normalcy in the 'modern world' is a useful fiction that marks out unwanted elements while reinforcing the hegemony of the dominant group.” I would disagree with the term “useful fiction.” While I agree that it is fiction, I do not see how it is useful. The only instance I can think of in which normal vs. abnormal would be an appropriate comparison would be in the medical field distinguishing between normal and cancerous cells and similar situations. In terms of comparing people, this is not the best terminology. Nobody is normal. While a person may appear “normal,” it is impossible to read their minds and know who they are. They could have emotional issues that would be deemed abnormal. For this reason, labels are not useful and are often inaccurate.
I found the section of the article about Hephaestus creating women to be interesting, also. At first, I had forgotten that he was a god, and I was offended that a man was credited for creating women. This would emphasize and essentially justify men being superior to and having control over women; however, because Hephaestus is a god, this offense is null and void. The author states, “He builds an army of females, golden women who are strong, smart, and able to speak their mind.” This is ideally how women would be portrayed in today's society. They are what would be considered the “total package.” Not only are they beautiful, but they are also deeper than simply superficial beauty with their strength and intelligence. Outer beauty can only take a person so far in life. Eventually, it fades aways. If that was the only thing the woman had going for her, it will make for a very dull and depressing aging process. Intelligence and personality are inner beauty that will never fade away and will keep a woman beautiful for her entire life.
Dr. Joyce Rain Anderson
27 October 2014
Breathe Upon Us
““Breathe Upon Us an Even Flame”: Hephaestus, History, and the Body of Rhetoric” written by Jay Dolmage talks about Hephaestus, a Greek God with a physical disability. He was known to be an inventor, a trickster, trap-builder, and machine-creator in Greek myth. Jay Dolmage writes, “Looking at the image of Hephaestus in his chariot, we might feel some ambivalence—he is a disabled God, a “crippled” craftsman, and we might assume that these things are mutually exclusive. One could say he overcame his disability through hard work. Yet both his bodily difference and his craftsmanship are evidence of the particular form of intelligence that Hephaestus was said to symbolize: metis. In this way his disability is his ability” (122). I really dislike how often people assume that one’s disability defines a person. Some people act as if one cant be really talented if they have a disability or it’s because they have a disability that they’re so talented. No matter which way people associate it, the disability always comes into question. Someone can be extremely talented and it has nothing to do with his or her disability. Yes, like the author said, his disability became his ability. Hephaestus worked hard and his disability may have helped him see the world from another angle, which got him to where he was. With a physical disability, in Hephaestus’ case, his feet, all that would impact is his walking. His talent shouldn’t be judged just because he has a hard time walking.
Later in the article, Dolmage writes, “These men overcome their disabilities or compensate for them with poetic genius or bear them with punishment. Indeed, Aristotle’s Generation of Animals, the Hippocratic Corpus, and even the plays of Aristophanes act as catalogues of disability as deficit, punishment, or degeneration” (123). One’s disability is not a punishment and it isn’t a deficit. A deaf or blind man can do anything a person who can see or hear can do, maybe even better. I think that one’s disability is actually a strength. It may seem a little more difficult to get around in society, but in the long run, the person with the disability is often more dedicated. A person’s legs may not work, and although they might not be able to walk, they can still get from one place to another, they can play sports, do art, succeed in school, learn, and eat.
In the past, disabilities were viewed much differently than they are today. And as much as some people want to think that others aren’t judged on what they can or can’t do, they still are. People often judge another person before they get to know them. While some disabilities are hidden, others are not. The disability doesn’t define a person. It isn’t a punishment. It doesn’t dictate whether or not one can be a good friend.
The Tattoos of Epimenides by DuBois and “Breathe Upon Us an Even Flame: Hephaestus” by Dolmage
The Tattoos of Epimenides by Page DuBois is an interesting article concerning the liminal space that is created when assuming the power that is possessed when a person refuses to fit within a designed role. Instead, they create their own space in the in between, and in doing so surpass the expectation of society by usurping the definitive expectations of their roles; people such Shamans and magicians, which are a key to why Dubois finds this article so interesting. “I am especially interested in this chapter as the stranger, in the slippage between the abnormal and the unnatural, and in the people who deliberately set themselves outside the norm, choose to be abnormal, in order to become unnatural, especially in the case of the magician or sage shaman, to be unnatural in their conquest of death, who travel, for example, outside of the norms of human existence, living outside the world, visiting the land of the dead, living immense life spans, returning themselves from death” (DuBois 57). These liminal spaces are constructed in the negative shadow of societal norms. The “freaks” are forced into creating a space outside of society due to the rhetoric that tells them they don’t belong within it, but they also don’t fall completely out of it. In this strange liminal zone those who choose to fall in-between create a power for themselves. Ironically, this frees them from the constraints of society after they’d been expelled from it. Similarly to the “divinely marked persons whose abnormal, unnatural capacities freed them from constraints to which all other mortal beings are subject” (DuBois 71). The choice to live as an abnormal individual either through acceptance of a deformity or through body modification empowers a person by giving them access to space and self-identification.
““Breathe Upon Us an Even Flame: Hephaestus”: History, and the Body of Rhetoric”, by Jay Dolmage reveals our societies view of disabilities opposed to the dynamic of acceptance within ancient Greece. Hephaestus is a liminal character. He is a powerful god who “appears “able-bodied,” yet he rides a proto-wheelchair, a chariot with wings” (Dolmage 120). These characteristics allow him the ability to traverse both the normal planes of society, but belong outside of it as well. As, Dubois’ article The Tattoos of Epimenides states, divinely marked persons are freed from the constraints of society. Just as the peoples whom slipped into the liminality of society to become shamans and magicians, Hepaestrus seized his differences in order to overcome the difficulties he faced, essentially becoming a god. The fabricated ideal of a “normal” body is constructed, not to set a standard, but instead, to set a deviant to which the unwanted should be compared. Today “Normalcy in the “modern world” is a useful fiction that marks out unwanted elements while reinforcing the hegemony of the dominant groups” (Dolmage 123). This forced hegemony only forces people into the liminal spaces of society which have been shaped out of necessity. Out of this necessity rises the power of self-
The article Tattoos of Epimenides was interesting. I liked all the talk about freak shows because that is something that I am really interested in. I have always loved things that make people different or even seen as abnormal. I like the part where they are talking about the fact that our society wants some kind of difference in order to separate people and it said that “freak shows filled a gap that they did not create…Freak shows were a performance of one kind of imaginary difference in an effort to assert another.” They then went on to talk about what is considered normal and what is considered abnormal. Who exactly made that distinction? What are the qualifications for being normal vs abnormal? In the article it says that over time our idea of what might be normal or abnormal usually changes.
At the moment what we consider abnormal is based off of something from the end of the nineteenth century. It talks about the juridico-natural exception of the monster. I think the fact that they are referring to something abnormal using the word monster is not that great. When I think monster I think terrible murderous beast or a person who kills people and doesn’t even feel bad about it. I don’t necessarily think someone who is different such as Siamese twins or people with missing limbs. They may be different but that does not necessarily make them a monster. The way they talk about the word monster makes it sound like they don’t necessarily mean it to be a bad thing but that is the way that I have been taught to interpret it. Monster means bad. They are talking about monster in the sense that they are like a stranger, it has to deal with the laws of nature and the laws of society.
The article mentions the idea of the abnormal in past societies such as the creation of centaurs and hybrid creatures of all sorts. I have never really seen those as being monsters either although I can see why people would see them that way. I also like the part in the article where it starts talking about our interest in the abnormal. How we are stuck in a place of normalcy and are therefore intrigued but terrified of the abnormal. How there is a sense of power and how they have an aura of sacredness. I prefer that idea to that of something abnormal being monstrous. I figure that everything and everyone exists for a reason. If something is considered abnormal then it is meant to be there and I don’t see a problem with it. I don’t like that word freak means monster but I do like that the word freak can be interpreted as wonder. That being a freak is something curious and wonderful.
“Breathe Upon Us an Even Flame” focuses on the mythical figure Hephaestus and the idea that we should celebrate ours and others differences. I really appreciate the idea that we should celebrate difference rather than frown upon it. Everyone has something about them that is different but a lot of people are too afraid to do anything about it or use it to their advantage. They are afraid that they are going to be looked down on by society. They shouldn’t be. People’s differences it what makes them unique and sometimes causes them to have certain skills that they may not normally have otherwise. This article specifically focuses on the idea of physical difference and how the Greek God Hephaestus was revered for his difference. This God is usually depicted as having some sort of disability that makes it difficult for him to walk. He is usually sitting in a proto wheelchair that is a sort of chariot and holding tools. This suggests that he built the chariot himself in order to make himself mobile which would be more difficult otherwise. People did not necessarily see it as a bad thing that he was lame. They instead focus on how smart he is. People found the positives in these kinds of impairments rather than only seeing the negative. For example, it said that sometimes he was depicted as having feet that point away from each other or go backwards. Instead of seeing it as he cannot walk they saw it as he could move from side to side quicker.
Nowadays someone with something physically different about themselves is considered disabled when really that is not necessarily the case. Then because they are considered disabled they are often excluded from groups and activities. It talks about how people in the past were much more inclusive to people with disabilities because they were not seen as impairments. They were seen as gifts and abilities. The whole idea of exclusion only started relatively recently. I wish we could go back to the way of thinking where people look at the positives of disabilities and not just the negatives. Sure we have made more progress in helping people with differences but that is only because we are trying to make them more normal. We segregate them and try to keep them away from the normal people while simultaneously saying that we are trying to help them. I think that helping them is all well and good and that some people have good intentions but at the same time I feel like it’s not fair to continuously treat them differently. I feel like that makes them feel different and the fact that they are segregated makes them feel like something is wrong with them. In all seriousness, there is nothing wrong with them. That is just the way they are and it just happens to be different then the majority.
I found “Unruly Bodies: The Rhetorical Domestication of Twenty-First-Century Veterans of War” by Paul Achter to be very interesting and relevant to our society today. It makes important points about the ways in which the government, media, etc can manipulate the portrayal of bodies to fit their own agenda. This is discussed in regards to veterans, but I think it can be applied to nearly any group. As we have discussed before, in regards to Trayvon Martin in particular, it is alarming to me that the content which we are exposed to can be so manipulated.
According to Kevin DeLuca, who is quoted by Achter in this essay, “public controversies featuring ‘vulnerable bodies, dangerous bodies, taboo bodies, ludicrous bodies, transfigured bodies’ make the body a pivotal resource for the crucial practice of public argumentation” (48-9). The body is a resource for public argumentation. This is exactly the point of this article. The ways in which veterans are portrayed is purposely manipulated in order to control the public’s opinion of war.
Achter states that “Whether an injury is visible or more psychological, veterans are a significant problem for war advocates because they render the story of war in efficient, emotional terms” (49). This is a very powerful point. No matter how dedicated to the cause a civilian is, seeing the pain a veteran has gone through can trigger second thoughts about whether or not war is worth it. It makes the violence and danger seem much more real than simple conversation or news stories will do. He then goes on to discuss the binary of “right” bodies and “wrong” bodies and how an injured veteran is a “wrong” body according to society.
The government is controlling this issue, however. According to Achter, “It is precisely because of the emotional power of photographs of injured or dead soldiers, for example, that the Pentagon did not allow journalists to photograph caskets containing the bodies of deceased veterans at Dover Air Force base from 1991 to 2009” (50). The fact that the government is aware of how public opinion of war would change if we were exposed to the reality of it, and the fact that they purposely hide these things because of that, is a bit concerning.
I found the parts about Tommy Rieman to be very interesting as well. The fact that he was selected, in part due to his “whole body” also seems unfair (don’t get me wrong – he’s absolutely a hero) in comparison to people who have no only acted heroicly, but have had to compromise their bodies in order to do so.
"Unruly Bodies: The Rhetorical Domestication of Twenty-First-Century Veterans of War" by Paul Achter, gave me a different out look on bodies and rhetorics that we haven't encountered yet in this class. I am familiar with the idea of soldiers being the bodies used in war, the ones that sacrifice themselves for the freedom of the rest of the country. I have always had a great respect for the military and consider myself to be very grateful to all the men and woman who have died to keep America safe.
This article brought about many points that I had never considered. Achter says that because of the our advances in medicine and our 21 century technology, soldiers are now featured be some part of their body. Achter speaks mostly about injured vets who have lost limbs through injuries, comparing them to "whole bodied" soldiers. This term kind of stopped me in my tracks because that is indeed what they are. People who have lost limbs are not complete in the sense. This may seem obvious but the wording really stood out to me here.
The quote on page 48-49 about public argumentation also struck me. He lists "vulnerable bodies, dangerous bodies, taboo bodies, ludicrous bodies, and transfigured bodies" as resources for the public to decipher one thing from another. For example, this whole essay talks about how dismembering these veteran bodies, so to speak, in an attempt to bring the war home to us, doesn't do as its intended. Achter seems to think that by normalizing these bodies, we are trying to normalize the war and to promote other to join the army. I hope I am understanding this right.
I agreed with a lot of Achter's points, but I am not completely sure I understand his argument as a whole. How should we represent these "unruly" bodies? What is the solution to the problem he is posing? I am sure we will talk about this in class. However, I was extremely interested in this article and like I said, never thought of soldiers and their bodies in this context.
28 October 2014
Dr. Joyce Rain Anderson
“Unruly Bodies: The Rhetorical Domestication of Twenty-First-Century Veterans of War”
Paul Achter’s work, “Unruly Bodies: The Rhetorical Domestication of Twenty-First-Century Veterans of War” focuses on the bodies of American veterans who have been damaged by war, and the rhetoric (both visual and written) used to describe or control these bodies. Additionally, Achter takes this rhetoric further and suggests how these bodies are used and manipulated by the government to promote war and patriotism. Throughout his work, Achter uses specific examples of injured veterans (such as Thomas Young and Tommy Rieman) to promote this argument of a “domesticated” body and its relationship to the military, which seems to mean the general concept that often the government “possesses” these veteran bodies and use them as a form of rhetoric to further a militant agenda. However, while Achter continually develops this argument with valid, forceful language and examples, I found myself confused after reading it and sometimes I disagreed with the methods utilized within the work itself.
My confusion with this work mostly stems from the lack of a solution posed at the conclusion of the essay. For the majority of Achter’s essay, I found myself agreeing or at the least understanding the arguments he posed – from the discussion of “wholeness” and its connection to normalcy, to the inclusion of the media representations of veteran bodies, such as the pictures included in Newsweek magazine. However, I felt like Achter was building to some main “point” or solution that he never fully realized. Perhaps I’m misinterpreting the work, but I think he fully established that the veteran body is subjected to a type of branding or imaging by the government and the media, and he established this fact early on, but he lacked any ending argument as to how this can or should be fixed, or what the ideal veteran experience would be. Presumably, I’d expect that Achter would imagine a world without wars or at the very least more attention given to these disabled veteran bodies, but I also felt that his work suggested multiple representations of these bodies, but he was unsatisfied with all of these representations. This was most evident in the coverage of Marissa Strock’s story. First, Achter discusses the image of Strock that graced the cover of Newsweek in 2007, where he describes the picture itself, with Strock clad in an army uniform that is accompanied with a tired, exhausted expression. He then states, “The Newsweek cover thus represents Strock as trapped in a despairing state of injury caused by and perpetuated by the army.” However, Achter then discusses the online version of the same story, in which Strock is depicted smiling in a kayak. Achter discusses this, stating:
While we might feel sorry for Strock the amputee, mired in the bureaucracy of a failing veterans’ hospital, in the familiar domain of recreation and exercise, the photo activates a distinctly different emotional encoding, turning away from the causes of her wounds and toward her future recovery, and inviting the viewer to cheer her on. (55-56).
These two differing images and accompanying discussions were troublesome for me, mostly because I was unsure what Achter truly desired for an ideal veteran image. He seems to have issue with the magazine image as it depicts Strock in pain and a representation of the army, even as it furthers his argument in which the army has “possessed” this body. The language he uses (such as “trapped”) suggests that this image is a violation of the body, in Achter’s perspective. However, Achter seems to have even more of an issue with the internet image of Strock, in which she is happy and moving towards recovery. While I could understand the problems with this image, in which it erases the pain and suffering of Achter and makes the viewer more comfortable by obscuring her legs, I also wondered what Strock’s perspective was. To me, while Achter seems to have his heart in the right place, he is also manipulating these veteran bodies to suggest his own argument. I am unsure of the ethics of this decision, even if his work is meaningful in understanding the military moving forward. At the end of the day, I found myself wondering what Strock really thought about the military and the images of her in the media, rather than what Achter had to say in interpreting these images. I wondered which image Strock preferred, and what Achter actually expected from Strock and the other veterans – should they stay in pain as a representation of the damage of war, or can they be allowed to move on and smile even if that can obscure the manipulation of the military as they recover? I can understand Achter’s perspective and why this wor
October 29, 2014
Critical Response: Unruly Bodies
The reading Unruly Bodies: The Rhetorical Domestication of Twenty-First-Century Veterans of War by Paul Achter is about the “unruly” bodies caused by burns, paralysis, or missing limbs. The veterans who had taken place in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with visible injuries possess an “unruly” body that reflects their stories in war that deal with their emotions and explicit connection to war. When veterans return home, their wounds will by symbolic memories of all they have endured. Missing limbs show a difference of the “other” that people are unfamiliar with. When the veteran is out in society a person will see them as someone with a missing limb and not as a veteran. They will probably assume that this person was born without a limb and they will most likely stare because their mind cannot place the difference that this person has. Maybe the person will ask questions about what has happened. The veteran is constantly reminded of the pain and events of the war when they may look at the space where the limb once was located. Within this article I believe that veterans’ bodies are categorized as unruly bodies because the missing limp signifies a dismantlement of a limb that is beyond the ordinary. The fact that the injury was that much of an impact to have physically harmed the limb to have it removed was enough to label as “unruly.” A lot of people do not realize the emotional effects that may go along with the story behind the missing limb. They just see the difference and that something is missing and sets that person into a category of different because they cannot grasp the fact that there is something greater going on than the physical difference they can see. The unruly body is presented in this article as being a concern to the public.
The article discusses the advances in medicine today and its reduction to the incidence of death at war since the Vietnam era increasing veterans living with combat-induced injuries. Though safety advances have been made to involve helmets that may include protection of the arms and the legs, soldiers are still at risk when stepping out in a battle field. Even with today’s high level of technology and medical advances, it is still possible that the soldiers will have a greater chance at survival but could still have a result of living with a missing limb. In war the body is a commutative means for marking winners and losers. Elaine Scarry states that “one purpose of injuring an enemy in war is to create a concrete and tangible message for domestic audiences” (48). The body is separated and defined by the culture it was brought into. Certain cultures teach the body different means of communication and that may serve to the body as a way of protection or may be harmful to an enemy during combat.
October 29, 2014
Response to “Unruly Bodies”
This article captured my attention right from the beginning with its discussion of the film Body of War. I have never seen the film, but this concept of the two distinct bodies deeply disturbed me. Achter states, “The film's title refers to two bodies: the US Congress, which voted for the war, and the body of Tomas Young, a twenty-seven-year-old Iraq war veteran who was confined to his wheelchair after a sniper's bullet penetrated his spine, paralyzing him from the chest down.” This brief summary of the documentary explains why I support our troops but not war. These men and women sacrifice so much to guarantee that you, me, and every other US citizen can live with the freedom that is promised to us. Young is only twenty-seven, and he is now confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. While he can still have a great life, everyday things that other people take for granted (and even he may have taken them for granted before the war) just became extremely difficult. Hundreds of thousands of veterans are forced to live with their emotional and physical disabilities when they return from war. I can not imagine what that must be like. I meet a lot of veterans at the restaurant that I work at and many of them seem to have been hardened by the experience. It is very troubling, and I wish there was a different way to handle international threats.
What is also very disturbing is the second body that is mentioned: the US Congress. These people vote on these wars and ultimately decide whether or not to declare war on another country. They carry the fate of the men and women in the armed forces in their hands. I wonder if they consider the detrimental effects to these people and their families. I wonder if their vote would be different if they had loved ones serving. I believe that everybody serving in Congress and especially the President (because he/she is the leader of the military) should be required to serve at least the minimum amount of time serving our country in the armed forces. If a person wants to lead our country and receive all of the benefits that come along with doing so, then they should be willing to put their life on the line for the country and its citizens. This will give a first hand look at and a new perspective on what war entails. Hopefully this would make voters stop and think before sending troops anywhere.
I had mixed feelings about the concept of showing photographs of death and injury during war on television and in the media. I agree that the images “have the power to change minds,” which can be a good thing; however, this could make it more difficult for family members of the soldiers who are viewing these images. If their loved ones do not appear in the photographs of the injured or dead, they may be constantly paranoid that the next image will be their son or daughter. This could cause a major problem. In addition, the media tends to replay stories and images to the point where it is almost sickening. I felt extremely sympathetic to the family of the journalists who were beheaded by ISIS extremists because every time I turned the news on, the photographs were there. If I were in that situations where it was my loved one who that had happened to, I would not want to keep being visually reminded of the fact. They are already constantly reminded by the fact that their son is not there anymore. I feel as though there needs to be more respect for soldiers and their families. We need people in office who will provide support and assistance to soldiers, veterans, and their families.
October 28, 2014
Dr. Joyce Rain Anderson
This article shed a lot of light on me about veterans. I always knew that veterans are not taken care of as good as they should be. They fight for our freedom and put their lives on the line for fights that may not even be our business. They deserve the best medical treatment when they get injured overseas. Even those who are not physically injured but mentally deserve the best treatment as well. The mentally ill are the ones that get the short end of the stick in health treatment, not only veterans but for the mentally ill as a whole. So these are things that I already knew about how a veteran’s body is treated.
Some things I did get out of the article is how the body is treated after death to make the citizens of America connect to the dead soldier. Achter says, “The use of the flag is important because it hails viewers as citizens and invites them into a specific public discourse about war. By invoking an associative bond between veterans and strangers, it runs the risk, however, of encoding the dissenting views about war”. I thought this was interesting because I always saw the draping of the flag over the coffin of fallen soldiers as a sign of respect. But by reading that makes me feel manipulated in a sense, unless I am completely reading that statement wrong.
Another point that Achetr points out that annoyed me about how these bodies are treated is when he begins to talk about how the Pentagon want to manipulate the citizens into not disliking war. Achter says,
The Pentagon’s challenge is to find rhetorical means of encouraging civilians to identify with service members without turning civilians against its war policy. In order to accomplish this, I argue, the most unruly bodies* the dead and injured* are dissociated from representations of war and associated with normative notions of bodily propriety and care, recasting the vulnerability and pain so that it is no longer clearly connected to its origins.
This is the problem. This here could be the exact reason why veterans do not receive the proper care and assistance they deserve when they return home from war. The Pentagon does not want citizens to connect their injuries to the war that they are fighting? I’m sorry but that is beyond wrong. i do not really understand how this method works, but apparently it does. It’s sad, our fighting men and women deserve better.
Dr. Joyce Rain Anderson
29 October 2014
“Unruly Bodies: The Rhetorical Domestication of Twenty-First-Century Veterans of War” by Paul Achter talks about war in which bodies are being killed and destroyed. Elaine Scary points out that the point of the war is in fact to injure an enemy. She says, “Injuring is, in fact, the central activity of war. Visible or invisible, omitted, included, altered in its inclusion, described or redescribed, injury is war’s product and its cost, it is the goal toward which all activity is directed and the road to the goal” (48 Achter). I have never really thought about this fact. Most of the time, I only really think that the goal of the war is to win—not to injure others in the process. It is so cruel. People should not be trying to hurt someone else. A body is too valuable, too precious to lose because two groups of people were arguing.
Paul Achter even mentions how the veterans of war’s bodies, while they were fighting in the war, were borrowed by the state for warfare. While they are fighting, “their health, their deaths, and their wounds serve as metonyms for both the nation’s health and for the condition of the war” (49). I understand why the nation would look at these people as symbols of the entire nation, but in some respect, I think it is also important that these people be looked at as individuals too. If people get so caught up in mourning the nation, they won’t mourn the loss of this one man who devoted his life to protecting everyone. It is important to morn the one man in order to recognize what he did for the nation. It is a way of showing respect. I also think it is really important to show how appreciative people are of the men who returned without an injury. Just because they didn’t get hurt in the process, doesn’t mean they didn’t put their lives on the line for everyone. I think most people focus on the deaths and injuries of the soldiers and showing their appreciation for their work that they often overlook the work that the other soldiers did. The uninjured soldier might just as well witness many gruesome acts that could have affected them negatively upon their arrival home.
Atcher mentions, “The army’s use of Rieman in videogames and action figures illustrates how the seduction of war has come full circle: the young boys who play True Soldiers for Xbox are able to try out being Tommy Rieman, and the GI Joe doll that seduced Rieman as a child is now Rieman himself, a plastic figure produced to inspire the next generation of soldiers” (54 Achter). While I think it is nice of the people to memorialize Riemen, I think doing it in the form of videogames is wrong. I think young children get the wrong impression about war from the videogames. Since they can’t actually go out and see what war is like firsthand, the younger kids might think it is more like what they see in the videogames. In these videogames, the men always come popping back up after they die, and it is like their lives are “reset”. In the videogames, people don’t really think about the real man as a person and all of his heroic acts. The children think of him as a character within a game. It is really important that all bodies in war are shown respect whether they are injured or not.
Critical Response: Imprisoned Bodies
The reading for this class is on the life-world of the incarcerated. The article “Imprisoned Bodies: The Life-World Beyond the Incarcerated” by Drew Leder was interesting because it focused on paying attention the important reasons to focus on inmates. One of the reasons Leder states to pay attention to the life and world of the incarcerated is because there are so many as the United States has over two million men and women incarcerated. I never realized how many people are incarcerated in the United States. Thinking about the population of people in the U.S. two million seems like a great deal of people who are currently serving time in prison. As imagined, being incarcerated has sociological impacts on the people and families who are affected. While they are incarcerated their existence from society has been erased. Lives are ruined by “life on the street” which has its own goals, rhythms, activities and interactions that ruin families. Inner cities face problems of drug addiction, chronic poverty and unemployment that disrupt family life, community fragmentation, loss of hope concerning the future, all have the power to distort lived temporality.
I have never experienced or have been affected by someone who has gone to prison but it seems as if their existence in society goes blank. They are out of their families lives’ as they lose contact with the outside world especially if they do not get visitors or mail from people they know. The inmates are restricted to staying inside where their time that used to be free is now consumed by serving time. Their time that once belonged to them now belongs to the state. Every activity is restricted by someone telling them when to come out of their room, and when to eat as their freedom is stripped. The imprisoned body is owned by the state and not the individual. Being incarcerated labels the body as unfit to act in society. The body is told how to dress and how to act while in prison. The body is no longer owned by the individual until they are fully released freely back into society.
Life inside the walls of the prison is experienced as limited and very strict. In the outside world we live around clock and calendar time but in there, it seems that they live through lived-time, time-as-experienced. They focus on the future and where their goals are anticipated and organized over activities and interpretations of the past. What they are done should help them to focus on what they could do to get out early than their sentence is. Good behavior and improvement is often what gets people out before their time s fully served and they are released with parole. In prison is seems that time does not slowdown in equable increments as it does in our lives because we are used to experiencing our time in our daily routines and projects. Leders’ source from Minkowski states a quote: “We see the future come toward us and wait for that (expected) future to become present” (54). This quote is a great example as it relates to how a person who is incarcerated lives and tells time while they are in prison.
The first page of “Imprisoned Bodied: The Life-World of the Incarcerated” by Drew Leder blew my mind. The United States holds more prisoners in California than “France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Singapore, and the Netherlands combined”. This is crazy! We have five percent of the world’s population but twenty five percent of the worlds prisoners. To me, that just screams that we are doing something wrong.
I enjoyed being able to hear directly from inmates here, and I was especially interested in the concepts of escape and reclamation. I cannot imagine the feeling of hopelessness that being imprisoned would evoke, and it is fascinating to read about these two very different coping mechanisms that prisoners are using to pass the time. Escape involves reminiscing on old times and imagining being home again. With escape, the inmates do not participate in prison activities or try to make their cell feel like home. The opposite of this is reclamation. In this technique inmates get involved in prison life. They join clubs, work, exercise, and try to do everything possible to keep busy and better themselves. They also decorate their cells in order to try and feel more at home.
On a different note, “The Debate over Private Property” by Erving Goffman makes equally interesting points about inmates’ personal possessions. Having all of one’s possessions and identifying items taken away and replaced with those that match every other inmate strips away the inmate’s identity. Goffman makes a very interesting point on page 3, where he discusses the ways in which inmates may claim spaces as their own, in order to have an identity. Even something as simple as having a specific corner where they like to sit provides a way to ground themselves as individuals.
I liked reading these articles because being imprisoned is such a foreign concept to me. This is a different type of rhetoric of the body than those that we had previously discussed. This is a total loss of individuality which I hope we discuss further in class, as I think that this accounts for a new aspect of rhetorical bodies. This is not society prescribing a specific connotation to a body, but completely removing individuality. When someone makes a mistake we tell them that they no longer deserve their identity or the ability to move throughout their world. Why do we, in America, find this to be more of a solution than any other country in the world? How can we justify this? And what are our other options?
Novemeber 3, 2014
Dr. Joyce Rain Anderson
I was actually surprised how much this article interested me. Drew Leder's "Imprisoned Bodies: The Life-World of the Incarcerated," focused on the life a prison in terms of the body, time and space. Breaking it down this way made the article easy to follow and pro-fluent in nature. Although men and women who are in prison have done something morally or socially wrong, they are still human beings. In the darkness of some of their awful crimes, I think we forget this and believe they deserve inhuman treatment. This article put into perspective what each (in the article) man goes though while incarcerated, in terms of how their body is no longer their own, since it is now owned and controlled by the state.
Some of the sections I found particularly interesting where in the "embodiment" section. "The body is our general medium for having a world," (60). This almost seems so obvious that we don't see it. Our world is formed by how we see it. My experience in the classroom is completely different from the person sitting next to me. I think this is important in terms of this article because, as the author says, we tend to group people together. In this case, all prisoners are the same. But as we see from the interviews, some men viewed their cell, or space, as something to keep themselves detached from, while others embraced it as their home.
Also in this section, Leder talked about the "lived body imbued with subjectivity" and the "object body viewed as a thing in the world." As a prisoner, you go from being a lived body to being an object of the state. You don't have agency over where you go, when you go there or have control over how is watching you. Leder goes on to mention "Alienation from one's body." After being viewed as an object for so long, one can start to believe it, viewing his or her body in that way even without the person their to objectify. them.
On a more positive note, Leder does mention how being a possession of the state reaffirms "the body as the self's one true possession and locus of power." (61). I found this interesting because it is true. Reading this article made me realize how scary it would be to have no control over where your body was placed, if you committed a crime and were sent to prison. However, keeping in mind that your own body is in fact yours, rejects alienation from your own body, which I think could help someone in this type of situation. No control can lead to dysfunction, as the article mentions when these people leave prison and come back into society. Overall, I found this article enlightening to a subject I hadn't really though about.
3 November 2014
Dr. Joyce Rain Anderson
“Imprisoned Bodies: The Life-World of the Incarcerated”
Drew Leder’s work entitled “Imprisoned Bodies: The Life-World of the Incarcerated” focuses upon the lives that prisoners live within the system, and how prisons function to affect and manipulate the bodies of the imprisoned. I found this text to be startling and even horrifying at times because it forced me to think about prisons in their reality rather than the theoretical viewpoint that I had held before; I have never viewed myself as one who would have the threat of prison before me and thus I think I had disregarded the prison system as an issue of importance. After reading Leder’s work, I was quite bothered by the implications of the prison narratives he displayed and the severity of the problems plaguing the “justice” and prison system.
Leder initially describes the prison system as a “unique social experiment”, to which I initially had responded to in a harsh manner. He states that the United States as a society responds to “social ills” with “one ‘simple solution’: place an ever-increasing proportion of our citizens in cages.” This phrasing is alarming yet true – it is a succinct way to sum up our prison system, and this rhetoric suggests how awful this reality is. I was conflicted by the emotions I was feeling; this response to law-breaking seems utterly inhumane and broken. Still, what of those individuals who are truly harmful to society? Repeat sex offenders and pedophiles and murderers – I cannot honestly argue for nor do I feel that these individuals deserve a prison sentence that focuses on their comfort. However, the reality is that many of those who go to prison are for other reasons and minor crimes (drug use, for example). Perhaps many of these individuals convicted of lesser crimes are just in dire need of help and rehabilitation, but our justice system does not seemed concerned with this aspect of justice.
As I read on in Leder’s work, I found myself thinking of Dateline and other television shows I had seen in years prior, focusing on the prison systems in countries beyond the United States. Sweden, I believe, has a prison system that does lean towards a focus on rehabilitation, which is shown throughout the way their prison system operates. The “cells” do not look like ours and instead look like small rooms you might find at a dorm on a college campus, they are allowed “luxuries” like their own bedding and normal street clothes, and they are given a smaller sense of freedom. Coupled with this, those in charge of the “prisoners” work on programs to promote rehabilitation – therapists, education, libraries, promotion of the arts, and even yoga instructors. Not only do administrators try to reconcile the issues that led up to the crimes committed, but they try to prevent future ones from happening. I do not recall the exact results of their “social experiment”, however I do remember that they saw positive effects on their prisoners and I believe there also was a decrease in repeat offenders after being released from the system.
When considering Leder’s discussion of the United States’ prison system in comparison to what I had viewed in the past, I could not help but feel empathy and outrage for those in our own prison system. I feel that while there are extreme cases that may warrant the kind of prison treatment we have in the U.S. prisons, the application of this “social experiment” on such a large number of our citizens is barbaric and inhumane. This has to change – for the betterment of our society.
November 3, 2014
Response to “Imprisoned Bodies”
These articles were interesting and thought provoking. We as a society are not meant to view prisoners as civilized human beings. We are supposed to view them as inferior, dangerous, and unfit to live and work with everyone else. I have mixed feelings about prisoners and this country's justice system. I know people who have committed multiple crimes who have not had any significant punishments. Court dates are piled on court dates and no justice is served; however, I had not considered what life is like for these people when in prison. And the idea I do have is from the show Orange is the New Black.
I found Leder's statistics in “Imprisoned Bodies: The World of the Incarcerated” to be interesting and disturbing. Leder states, “The incarceration binge has continued largely independent of criminal activity. Crime has decreased for the last nine years, during which time the prison population has risen precipitously.” As more and more laws are passed, there are more laws to break and more reasons judges can incarcerate people. It is also crazy that our incarceration rates are six to ten times greater than similar countries. Maybe it is due to the amount of poverty in this country that leads to crime? But not all people who live in poverty commit crimes. There are people who grow up poor and never have a run in with the law. On the other hand, many of the country's elite athletes and politicians commit heinous crimes and end up incarcerated. The fact that “the United States now incarcerates over two million men and women” is disturbing. As a tax paying citizen, I think that society should find other ways of dealing with lesser crimes and save prison for extreme crimes. Community service is always a good option; it is a win-win: the criminal is punished for the crime, and the community is improved.
I was intrigued by the statement Foucoult makes in “Discipline and Punish” about failure in the system. He states, “Criticism of the failure of prisons misses the point, because failure is part of its very nature. The process by which failure and operation are combined is the carceral system.” It is interesting how a system can thrive from failure. I realize that many systems are trial and error and that there is no way to really know if a criminal will be rehabilitated when they return to society, but if the system is consistently failing, I would think that they would try better ways. However, I think prison systems around the world are becoming too comfortable for prisoners. These people committed crimes and they need to be punished. Having videogames and televisions are not sending the proper message. When I was growing up, these things were the first things taken away from me when I did something wrong. Some people argue that the prisoners need televisions to stay current with news, but I believe that is what newspapers are for, and videogames should absolutely not be there.
I have watched videos of prisons in Norway that are almost luxurious. They have rock climbing, recording studios, and living spaces that are much nicer than many apartments here in the United States, and these amenities are in a high security prison. They have flat screen televisions and the new videogame systems. At this point, I question what would prevent someone from committing crimes. Especially if someone is living on the streets or in poverty, this lifestyle may seem better than anything they have access to in society.
Dr. Joyce Rain Anderson
3 November 2014
Within the article, “Imprisoned Bodies: The Life-World of the Incarcerated”, Drew Leder discusses how prison-life changes a man or women after being confined in such a small space for so long. When a person is incarcerated, their own lives are practically ripped from their bodies. Their lives are no longer their own, but the states. When a person lives in the real world, they have the power to make choices and decide what they want to do with their time, they chose what life they want to live, whether it is thrust upon them from the environment, or they grew up like that. Either way, when sent to prison, any power that the person has is taken from them, and their time must now be served. Anything that the prisoner wants to do has to be predetermined by the prison authorities, not natural inclination. While the person may have committed some crime that landed them in prison, I think that the necessities the body needs shouldn’t have to be run through the guards. For example, if the prisoner wants to sleep, eat, or go to the bathroom, they shouldn’t have to fight for it. Just because these men and women are in prison does not make them any less of a person. They deserve to have some say over their body, whether it is only a tiny aspect or not.
It is so sad when Leder quotes the prisoners he has worked with when he taught them a philosophy class. The one thing the men all agreed upon is that living in the past or in the future is a lot less painful then living in the present. For them, this is an escape mechanism, in order to leave the painful present. Living in the past can be the most dangerous, in my opinion. If one lives in the past, they become so wrapped up in it that they are unable to move forward and actively work to change their ways. Also, this could allow the men and women to retreat back into their old habits in their pre-prison days, making them more likely to end back up behind bars.
On the other hand, I see living in the future as a little healthier for the person. One man states, “If I can master the present, I will have used my time to redeem time. Then I can go back and offer something to people who never had to be in that situation” (55). They sometimes will see what they want to be in the future and actively work to be that person. He works hard during prison time and learns so he can be a better person when he leaves. The author writes, “The living present is reclaimed as a scene for fulfilling and purposive action. One is back to "doing time" instead of having time do you” (55). I think this quote is extremely important. If one’s body is not in control of time, their humanity is taken from them. If time is in control of the person, nothing will ever get done and the same horrible cycles will just keep being repeated.
In my opinion, I think everyone deserves some sense of freedom, whether in prison or not. While these people did do a crime that deserves to be punished, I don’t think that the men will learn at all by having their freedom and humanity stripped away from them. In order to get these men to alter their ways and hopefully decrease the levels of crime in their future, the prison authority needs to treat them more as an equal, help them discover a place they can go, ways to deal with stress, and even get a job. I know that it is extremely difficult to get a job after prison, because most places will not want to hire a convicted man. If a man served his time, I think they deserve the right to try and prove themselves again. Since money is so important in life, if the prisoner doesn’t get a job immediately after, they might end up reverting back to their old ways just because they cant afford to live in the real world anymore.
Currently the United States has a population of 317 million. Of that 317 million, over two million people are imprisoned, that is twenty-five percent of the worlds prisoner population in the United states alone. Drew Leder's Imprisoned Bodies: The Life-World of the Incarcerated focuses on these prisoners and the coping mechanisms used to rationalize their embodied space. Leder’s article shifts the current social view of inmates and gives a different perspective of the “social experiment” that is the incarcerated life. While inmates are in prison for a variety of reasons, the experiences within the walls often shape the individual in inhumane and unjust ways, and the prisoners very identity is stripped away within the social justice system. While prisoners cope by either “escaping” within their minds or completely changing themselves through reclamation, they are still playing a waiting game.“We see the future come toward us and wait for that (expected) future to become present” (54). This quote reminded me of an article I recently read about death row inmates developing a syndrome called “death row insanity”. The space within solitary confinement causes such strain and hopelessness, the only thing to hope for is death itself. Such as the case within Goffman’s article The Debate over Private Property, the prisoners would be taken of everything and cloned to be mere inmates. When your body is taken of its identity, your possessions can not reflect who you are, and the space you are dwelling in is simply a liminal holding cell. A prisoner will go to great lengths to reclaim themselves, or simply crack under the hopelessness. While these articles focus on literally being imprisoned, the idea of being imprisoned and having ones identity can also be figurative. We’ve read several articles where someones identity or space has been taken from them or suppressed. From Trayvon Martin, NFL players, to “freaks” who are forced into liminal factions of society. Prison exposes the drastic idea of imprisoned embodiment and the extent that people will go to maintain their identity, but in everyday life we face spaces where our identities and spaces are infringed upon.
I have always found plastic surgery to be morbidly interesting, so I really enjoyed “Attitudes Toward Cosmetic Surgery Patients: The Role of Culture and Social Contact”. The article focuses on a study and the theories which are proven throughout this study. It looks at people’s opinions of others with plastic surgery in a few countries.
The article proves that most people have a negative opinion of those who undergo plastic surgery. This isn’t really news to me, I can’t put my finger on it but I’ve also noticed that people generally feel odd about plastic surgery. As the article says, “Female undergraduate participants in the United States perceive[d] cosmetic surgery patients as maladjusted or unhealthy and attributed some negative personality traits to them” (460).
I’m glad that the article made note of the shared connotations that the different cultures had in regards to plastic surgery. When surveyed about what stereotypes the participants would apply to those who have undergone plastic surgery: “‘Concerned about others’ evaluation’ was considered stereotypical in all three cultures, and ‘attention-seeking’ was considered stereotypical in two cultures” (467). I think that it is important to note that these connotations are nearly universal and that plastic surgery has a similar stigma in all of the evaluated cultures. The article goes on to state that, “As discussed, many cosmetic surgery patients want to undergo the surgery because they are concerned about how they are treated and evaluated by other people” (467). This is the main reason that people undergo plastic surgery, and the fact that others are aware of this creates the stigma.
The article also made a compelling point about the paradox between people perceiving plastic surgery patients as beautiful and attractive and also perieving that they have bad qualities. Beautiful people, as the article points out on page 474, are usually considered to have more favorable qualities. Yet when the beauty is derived from plastic surgery, negative traits replace the favorable ones. It almost seems to defeat the purpose of getting the surgery in the first place.
November 5, 2014
Dr. Joyce Rain Anderson
"Attitudes Toward Cosmetic Surgery Patients: The Role of Culture and Social Contact," gave some interesting statistics. 12.5 million plastic surgery procedures were performed in America in just the year 2009. That right there is a huge number of people who have altered their body in some way, shape or form. I was really shocked by how large this number was, especially because it only included our country. 2001 brought out a doubling of surgeries performed in Asia. This was interesting because laster in the article, it is stated that Asia is one of the countries that had a negative attitude towards plastic surgery overall. However, they were actively participating in it.
Later, the article states that in China, in the classic text Book of Filial Piety, "states that a fundamental way to be filial to parents is to maintain the body intact as it has been granted to parents," (461). This struck me as odd that this was even stated as a rule. The article goes on to say that overall people prefer natural things to unnatural so this idea of changing ones body artificially continues to have a negative connotation. What is interesting though is that as negative as people feel about it, 12.5 million people got surgery in just one year. It seems as though the attitudes don't match the data.
I think that saddest part is that a lot of people get plastic surgery to appeal to other. I can't imagine willingly going to a hospital to be cut open, all for public opinion. I sympathize because I understand that no one wants to be the odd one out or to be made fun of. It seems like in some cases it is an act of desperation. And because it is in general a socially acceptable avenue for changing ones appearance, people do it.
The article also said people expect social improvements in their relationships and social circles because they look different. As sad as this is, it is completely true. We as a society do treat people differently based on how they look. I just hope that after undergoing all the recovery and physical toll on ones body after the surgery, they get what they are looking for. I would be interested to find out about the emotional consciences that result after having plastic surgery in order to fulfill the quota of standard beauty or in order to attract another person. If they don't succeed, I would imagine that would be devastating.
4 November 2014
Dr. Joyce Rain Anderson
“Attitudes Toward Cosmetic Surgery Patients: The Role of Culture and Social Contact”
In reading the work entitled “Attitudes Toward Cosmetic Surgery Patients: The Role of Culture and Social Contact” composed by Kim-Pong Tam, Henry Kin-Shing Ng, Young-Hoon Kim, Victoria Wai-Lan Yeung, and Francis Yue-Lok Cheung, I ultimately was confused. I found my reading experience to be incredibly difficult, which I attributed mostly to the difference in academic fields when compared to ones that I am used to. While I have had many experiences reading works of literary and film criticism, as well as ones written on media and communications, I have little to no experience with substantial scientific texts. Often, I felt this text read more as a mathematical work than one of psychology, despite its attention to an issue of psychology – the attitudes facing cosmetic surgery patients. The liberal use of statistics (and statistical math to describe these numbers) made it difficult and sometimes frustrating to locate the main arguments; however, I felt that I still could identify some major arguments (or “hypotheses”) within the work despite this unfamiliarity and confusion.
One of the major hypotheses I latched onto within this work was the description and theory of differing cultural approaches and attitudes to cosmetic surgery. The text states, “Accordingly, it is hypothesized that attitudes toward cosmetic surgery and cosmetic surgery patients are more negative in Chinese or other Asian cultures than in Western cultures.” I found this to be particularly interesting because I would not have necessarily thought this hypothesis to be true. While I do not know as much as I would like to about Asian cultures, I do have a vague knowledge of some of their street fashion and trends, and I thought that the youths and young adults within these cultures experimented quite drastically with their look, even using body modification. For example, while this is not qualified as a cosmetic surgery, young adults often like to wear “circle lenses” for their eyes which offer an unnatural, doll-like look to the wearer. Thus, I would have hypothesized that cosmetic surgery, even in the proposed “unnaturalness”, would not have been looked at negatively by these cultures as a whole. A more direct example of cosmetic surgery that is favored in Asian societies is the practice of eyelid surgery, which is done in an attempt to mimic the eye-shape of European populations – a practice done often in an effort to ascend higher socially and economically. Therefore, when I read the statement that the attitudes within these societies are more negative than Western cultures, I became confused – but then I began hypothesizing further.
I think these statistics discussing this cultural difference reflect upon both these Asian cultures as well as America’s culture. I think we, as a society, have become immune or used to the practices of cosmetic surgery because it is pushed on us via advertising and then glorified through reality television and celebrities. However, I also hypothesize that perhaps the greater negative attitudes within non-western societies could be attributed to a negative image towards young people who choose these procedures, or perhaps could have negative implications due to specific surgeries (such as eyelid surgery) that affect a person’s social standing within society. It seemed that this work exposes how many opinions people can hold about cosmetic surgery (that don’t actually affect anyone except those who elect to get these surgeries), and that these opinions can be fueled by many factors. It suggests a greater issue in which the body is scrutinized by outsiders without regard to the feelings of the person who possesses that body – in a sense, society possesses that body over actual autonomy.
November 5, 2014
Response to “Attitudes Towards Cosmetic Surgery Patients”
I found this article to be interesting and informative, but I wish it had incorporated more countries and cultures into the study. I am curious to know how European countries view cosmetic surgery. I have read that countries in South America, such as Brazil, are highly accepting of these procedures. They are accepting to the point where it is unhealthy. Women live in poor living conditions in order to afford the surgeries. It is sad to think that women believe that their only self-worth lies in their appearance and that they would go to extreme measures to change themselves.
The author of the article points out that “cosmetic surgery is considered by some people to be a way to fulfill other people's expectations and to garner attention or admiration.” This is why I disagree with cosmetic surgery. They are going under the knife and doing harm to their bodies in order to please other people or meet the expectations provided by society. They are not doing it for themselves, and if they are, it is so that they will feel as though they fit the beauty mold. There is nothing wrong with these women. Every person is born with a unique natural beauty. It is troublesome that people are made to focus on negative attributes, rather than positive ones. Maybe someone's nose is not exactly what they want it to be, but they have gorgeous eyes and a beautiful personality. It is hard to see the good when society is telling you to focus on the bad, but it is the little “imperfections” that give character and beauty.
While I had expected people to have a negative attitude towards cosmetic surgery, I had not expected the backlash from Hong Kong and Japan. I found it surprising that the participants from these places “were not willing to form social relationships, particularly intimate ones, with cosmetic surgery patients.” I did not expect that people who have undergone cosmetic surgery would be shunned. My question when reading the article was if these people are going to be rejected due to the artificial enhancement or changing of their bodies, why would they choose the procedure? It didn't make much sense to me.
I also found it interesting that these Asian cultures assumed people would conceal the fact that they had the procedures done. While many people do deny having surgery, I do not think it is fair to assume that all people will. I think the denial is so high because women want to believe that their new bodies are natural because they wish it was. They are trying to convince themselves that it is real; however, it is not right to deceive people. I read somewhere that a woman who had undergone many procedures and had concealed it was sued by her husband because their child was “ugly.” While this is really harsh, the article states that “Cosmetic surgery, as a means of artificially altering the body, may violate some important values in some cultures.” If I recall correctly, the couple was Asian. This article gives insight into the husband's viewpoint based on cultural values.
The last point I wanted to make was regarding the author's point about people wanting physically attractive partners. It is stated that “People generally prefer physically attractive mates because beauty signals health, youth, and fertility. It is paradoxical as to why people hold negative attitudes toward cosmetic surgery patients and are generally unwilling to form intimate relationships with them.” The auther points out that “lay people” view beauty as natural, but that is not the only reason. Once their appearance is permanently altered they become artificial and the procedure can not be undone. It also shows a lack of confidence and gives the impression that the person is superficial. Overall people need to embrace their natural beauty, both outer and inner.
ENGL 493: Rhetorical Bodies
Dr. Joyce Rain Anderson
4 November 2014
The article, “Attitudes Toward Cosmetic Surgery Patients: The Role of Culture and Social Contact” by Kim-Pong Tam discusses the different effects cosmetic surgery has on ones social relationships. The author reports that, “cosmetic surgery is considered by some people to be a way to fulfill other people’s expectations and to garner attention or admiration” (459 Tam). Cosmetic surgery has become so prominent in today’s society. People have always been self conscious about how they look and people occasionally want to change some feature on their body. But, in my opinion, it is when the person doesn’t let the challenge keep them back, that they become stronger. It is your body and it was made that way for a reason. People often stare in the mirrors for too long that they begin to see what isn’t really there. Now people can go out and buy a new nose if that is what they really want. The more people look at their body as something that needs to be fixed or changed, the more miserable they will feel. As a person gets more and more surgeries to alter how they look, I think they will become even more self-conscious. This is because they will always have to live up to some kind of unattainable perfection.
Each culture has such different views of cosmetic surgery. I really liked looking at the Table 1: Frequently Mentioned Attributes in Phase 1 on page 464. I enjoyed reading about how each place, Hong Kong, Japan, and the United States all viewed cosmetic surgery. There were some similarities mentioned in all three cultures such as, low self-esteem, confidence, economically well off, and good-looking. In Hong Kong and Japan though, concealing their surgery history was ranked almost at 15% and 20%. People in that part of the country are less willing to talk about personal matters, including information about their body. I think this is a good quality because if a person makes a decision to change something about him or herself, it should only be because it is something that they want to do. It shouldn’t be because it is what everyone else is doing.
It has also been found that, “there have been some studies on attitudes toward cosmetic surgery. For instance, Henderson-King and Henderson-King (2005) found that older women, individuals with lower self-esteem, and those with stronger appearance concern show stronger approval of cosmetic surgery” (460). As people get older, it is normal for the body to change. It is the way life works, and it happens to absolutely everyone. The skin gets wrinkly, the body gets slower, etc. It is a all just one big cycle. Now people are able to change their features so they will try to look perfect forever.
“Attitudes Toward Cosmetic Surgery Patients: The Role of Culture and Social Contact” by Kim-Pong Tam discusses the strange dichotomy of the societal expectations of beauty and the lengths people go to achieve it. The article reveals the stigma of cosmetic surgery that is reflected in society’s reaction to people who have undergone procedures, though it is often society itself that forces these people to have the procedure in the first place. “As discussed, many cosmetic surgery patients want to undergo the surgery because they are concerned about how they are treated and evaluated by other people” (467). This cycle of socialization reminds me of Spurr’s tropes of colonization; debasement is used to forever hold the colonized people in a submissive role. People who feel the need to undergo cosmetic surgery are already in a space that is shaped by the forces of society. After their surgery where they are taking on the “customs” and appearances of their oppressors, they believe they can take on a new form of power in order to leave the role of the oppressed. However, like a colonized group, the oppressor only views this attempt as a pantomime of their character and the oppressed will then be mocked for their attempt at hegemony.
While it is human nature to judge a person based on their appearances, it is incredibly harmful how important aesthetic is within our society. We are able to rule over cultures based upon appearance and skin color. This attitude that places outer appearance over inner beliefs is what pushes people toward cosmetic surgery. Even then, however, our society finds ways of maintaining rules and balances on who can achieve the status of “beautiful”. This is what creates a hierarchy in our society and allows the media to dictate our lives.
In Unruly Bodies I like the connection that they made between the body of the vet returned from war and the body of the war itself. I like the idea that you can tell the state of the war from the injuries of veterans that are returning. So many vets come back with various injuries like missing limbs or parts of them now being deformed by one thing or another. My cousin had to come back from the war because he got a chunk of his leg taken out. I also like the idea that they want to show the pain that these vets are suffering to America. It is true that the government seems to be trying to keep us desensitized to all of the injuries and pain that the vets are coming back with. There are so many people coming back in wheelchairs and with missing limbs that now have to adjust their lifestyle to fit these injuries. The only way that people ever really know or hear about it is if they know someone or if it was briefly mentioned on the news. I personally have no idea just how many vets are being injured but I am sure there is a lot of them. Not to mention all of the ones that have died or are dying currently. But they are talking about specific hospitals for military personnel. Just thinking about the number of people that a hospital can hold is terrible, let alone thinking about an entire hospital full of injured vets. That is a lot of people. But we are lucky to even hear about one or two of them. At this point is it even necessary to keep sending soldiers over if so many are coming back in this state? What about the enemy? Do they have the same amount of people with injuries? Do they have more? Do they have less? We don’t really hear about any of these things in the media but they seem to have no problem telling us the silly little things going on in the lives of celebrities. With so many vets returning and then going around to protest the war, shouldn’t this say something? Thomas Young is one of the ones in the documentary going around criticizing the war but it isn’t just him. There are others that wrote books about it and going around touring schools and other places about it. All of the vets I know that have just come back protest it as well. If the people who love their country enough to sacrifice themselves in the first place are coming back and protesting about the war, shouldn’t we listen and do something about it? The problem is that not enough people know vets or know about the struggles that they have been having. No one knows the number of vets that are protesting because no one really talks about it. Especially not the media. It even mentions in the text that the government and media hold back these things about the veterans. They pick and choose the veterans that they use and the injuries that they have. They make vets injuries look less bad then they are so that America will not lose support for the war.
I also like the idea of looking at the health of the vets coming back as a way of looking at the health of the country. What is terrifying is the fact that if we look at it that way then that means our country is not in the best state of health. It makes me think of someone with cancer who refuses to tell anyone. They know that they are dying but they don’t want anyone to worry about it. It feels like that is basically what is happening to the country.
In Imprisoned Bodies I think it is interesting that mentions the fact that crime has decreased in the last nine years and yet we have seen a threefold increase in the number of inmates in a prison. That just sounds rather concerning and ridiculous at the same time. It mentions the fact that a lot of the people being arrested have to do with the war on drugs. I understand that crime deserves a punishment, I just don’t like the idea that people arrested for drugs and people arrested for murder end up in the same place. That does not seem quite fair to me. I mean the seriousness of both crimes is completely different and yet both sets of people get arrested and put in prison. I also thought that it was interesting to learn that 63% of inmates are black or Hispanic. That makes me want to know why. Are we just being racist or are they actually more likely to commit these crimes?
In The Debate of Private Property it talks about the idea that people put a part of themselves into their possessions. I never really thought of it but that is very true. I know that I get very attached to a lot of the things that I own and more often than not it is because of the sentimental value, not actually the thing itself. There are some things that I have that if they got taken away I would not necessarily care, but there are other things that would leave me kind of devastated for a while. I never really thought about what it must be like for inmates and prisoners to have their possessions taken away from them. I also had no idea that they made inmates change their cells once a year so that they would not become attached. I didn’t realize just how much prisoners were being punished for their crimes. I knew that the prisoners often had their stuff searched to make sure that they do not have anything that they shouldn’t but I had no idea that the searches were also to make sure that they had no personal items. That just sounds generally awful. I am not quite sure how I would deal with that situation. It sounds like a tough one.
In Focault’s Discipline and Punish I liked that they started off with the way that crime used to be punished as opposed to now. In the past they used to torture and publicly execute people for committing crimes. Which I am sure made it less likely for people to commit them. Nowadays we put people into prison as a way to supervise and control them. Both public execution and imprisonment is a way for the people in power to show that they have power. Although public execution was more of a way to set an example. People ended up calling for reform not because they cared about what happened to the prisoners but because they wanted things to be more efficient. Prison is meant to deprive the individual of his freedom and reform them at the same time. At some point they changed the term prisoner to delinquent. This is because the delinquent is separated from other popular illegal activities and are usually found in small groups of criminals. These delinquents are also usually of a lower social class. They figure that since these people are considered as abnormal and are usually in groups it makes it easier to supervise and control them. I didn’t know that before. Also there was one point in the article where it talked about the government having mass control of bodies and movements and that sounded really concerning to me. Granted it is true but when it was said like that, it sort of didn’t sound right. It sounds kind of concerning.
In Attitudes Toward Cosmetic Surgery Patients I did expect it to talk about how in general people view someone willing to get cosmetic surgery in a negative light. I mean there are some people who definitely go overboard with it. I personally think it depends on the circumstance of why that person is getting cosmetic surgery. Is it just because they feel like it? Is there a medical reason? Is there something about themselves that they absolutely hate and cannot stand? I think that if they are doing it for a specific reason then it should not necessarily be seen as a bad thing. If someone is just getting cosmetic surgery all the time just because then I mean good for them I guess but I don’t really see the point. I mean maybe they have their reasons too but they just don’t seem as justified as the other reasons.
I thought it was interesting that in Hong Kong and Japan they absolutely refuse to form relationships with someone who has gotten cosmetic surgery. That seems a bit extreme to me. However, it does make sense that the people of America would not judge people that seriously for it. It does seem to be something that is prevalent in America. There is always talk about celebrities getting this done or getting that done and considering celebrities are the ones that most people idolize it makes sense that we wouldn’t make them a social pariah.
I knew that cosmetic surgery was increasing but I had no idea that it had been increasing that much. I suppose that it makes sense with all of the body shaming that goes on in the media. Everyone thinks that their body is not the ideal and wants to do something about it. It’s just that I feel like cosmetic surgery is an extreme. Especially if someone is doing it for other people. It is one thing if someone is specifically doing it for themselves. Then fine they are trying to make themselves feel better about themselves. Other people are not necessarily as relevant in that situation. But when someone gets it because they want more people to like them then I think it is kind of silly. What I also found really interesting was the fact that women are Asia get so much cosmetic surgery. After reading about the fact that the people of Hong Kong and Japan don’t even really want to associate with these people I was not expecting the amount of people getting the surgeries to be that high. That kind of surprised me.
I thought it was interesting the quote that they had about the women who get a lot of cosmetic surgery being scary and terrifying children. I do have to agree that they do not necessarily look as appealing as they think they do but those are not the only people who get cosmetic surgery. There are plenty of other people who get cosmetic surgery to only fix one thing about themselves rather than everything. There is definitely a difference between the two. Not everyone who gets cosmetic surgery ends of looking like that. That only happens when someone gets excessive amounts of cosmetic surgery.
November 5, 2014
Critical Response: Attitudes towards Cosmetic Surgery Patients
The article “Attitudes Toward Cosmetic Surgery Patients: The Role of Culture and Social Contact by Kim-Pong Tam, Henry Kin-Shing Ng, Young-Hoon Kim, Victoria Wai-Lan Yeung, and Francis Yue-Lok Cheung focused on cosmetic surgery and how cosmetic surgery patients are socially evaluated. What I know about cosmetic surgery is that it is a major type of surgery that allows for people to change or alter their physical appearance. I don’t know why people would ant to undergo major surgery to change something about them they do not agree with, but it all stems from the definition of beautiful defined by society and the culture in which we establish ourselves in. For a number of different reasons people all over the world are having a cosmetic surgery done to change or alter their appearance so they can fit into a society or to raise their self-esteem because they are unhappy with the way they look.
The article discusses the popularity cosmetic surgery has globally. In the United States alone, members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) performed 12.5 million procedures, a 96% increase from 2000 (459). This is a large number. I understand that people may undergo plastic surgery for a variety of reasons other than to change or alter their physical appearance. They may have to have a surgery to fix their nose due to a car accident that has left them unable to breathe correctly or even if they had been severely burned in a fire and may need a facial replacement. Considering the facts of why people have cosmetic surgery done, there is always a controversy as to why they get it done if it is for non-life living purposes.
Cosmetic surgery is often considered to be a means to improve social relationships as it allows for them to secure a partner or a job. If they can alter or change their appearance then they will have the “look” of the job or how their partner wants them to look. Cosmetic surgery of any kind is always socially evaluated. Whatever reasons a person has work done; the society in which they live in will judge them without knowing the reasons behind it. It always comes back to the acceptance of body image. If someone has a low self-esteem they believe that surgery will fix their flaws and make them different, but it’s not always the case. Cosmetic surgery can lead to emotional problems. There is the concern of the effects of the surgery on the individual and society.
The article had a study which led to the results of the question “if cosmetic surgery can make someone happier with the way they look, then they should try it” for the acceptance of cosmetic surgery stating that the higher scores indicated stronger acceptance. From this outcome of the study it seems that cosmetic surgery is more widely accepted and welcomed if the individual wishes to have a procedure done.
Responses to and thoughts about course readings