Sunday, July 15, 2007


One of the key equity notions this year was giving agency, countering hegemonic oppression, thingification, and the erasure of history. When, then, do we keep referring to people with the term “bodies?” Yes, we are discussing oppression as it relates to how one’s body is treated and perceived, and this term recognizes the power of oppression that is perpetrated based on simple physical characteristics.
I feel, however, that this term works against a lot of what we strive for. It is a form of synecdoche, reducing people to their bodies. Without recognizing the individual who lives in a body, what is the point of doing this work? If people talked about my body, rather than about me as a whole person, I would feel medicalized and stripped of my identity.
Talking about people in relation to their bodies removes their histories, which are only complete when the human details – perceptions, thoughts, emotions – are included. If violence is committed against a body, regardless of its characteristics, it is a benign event. “Body” is just an object. As a word, it does not imply humanity. Bodies do not resist, because they are objects, not subjects. We talk about bodies passively, as though they do not belong to people who feel fear, pain, and anger. The body may be a physical manifestation of humanity, but it is not humanity itself.

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