a collection of responses to class discussion and the reading
hymen construction as protection (from ???): I think calling hymen construction protection avoids some of the larger issues involved with this practice. While having a hymen construction so that you can pass a virginity test may enable you from being murdered or beaten – so does a bodyguard. I think that while this may be the reason or one reason (protection from bodily harm) to have such a surgery, I think that the practice is also motivated by a desire to ‘pass’ as a virgin to the family or family-in-law or husband in a way similar that some queer people ‘pass’ as straight. While I understand the reasons to do this, I also understand that every time a person ‘passes’ (as something that person is not), this is fails to challenge people to accept you as you are. I think that really, how I think about this (hymen construction surgery) (at least right now) is largely based on how I view the practice of lying. In general, I believe in telling the truth, yet I recognize that sometimes the benefits from lying outweigh the benefits from telling the truth – ie I can’t fight all the time about everything or you have to pick your battles.
That said, I’m not sure how to think about this in terms of gender. The answer – there is a virginity test for women and not for men just doesn’t satisfy (me). The fact of the matter is, there isn’t a virginity test for women. Hymens break for reasons other than intercourse, some women don’t have hymens, some hymens were surgically constructed… I think my viewing this the way I view lying or passing avoids the issue of gender.
Quotations from Banales I found interesting:
“Is it even possible for a woman to get cosmetic surgery ‘for herself,’ given the asymmetrical gender, race, and class power relations?”
“the extensive history and longevity of women’s resistance movements and organizing efforts in Peru as well as elsewhere in the Americas highlight ways in which these women […] actively assert and exercise their political agency”
“without the institutionalization of racism and other intersecting systems of oppression, the idea that there is such a thing as a more ‘beautiful’ or ‘desirable’ nose would probably not exist.”
“the [cosmeticc surgery] industry both contributes to as well as is a product of the larger systems of domination”
I think calling cosmetic surgery elective is fine. I think the problem is that we (who is this we anyway? do I mean I here?) think of individualism existing in a vacuum. I do not think society _determines_ a (any) person, (merely) influences them. I do think that a person has a self – perhaps not separate from society, but influenced by society and influencing society. To say that the cosmetic surgery is not elective, implies (to me) that a woman who undergoes an operation has no subject or say in it at all – it denies her the choice to say yes or no to the surgery comepletely. I think that she did have a choice to undergo such a surgery or not – it was a choice weighed with much societal meaning though. If my ability to get a job requires western facial features that I do not have – I still must choose whether or not to get a cosmetic surgery done or not – however I must do it knowing that my state of joblessness (or job) may rest on my decision. I think that all human choices are like this – we make them ourselves, weighing up the societal and personal ramifications the choosing or not choosing will have.