Eli Clare event
I just got back from the Eli Clare talk (which I’m sure the handy dandy Related Posts bot thing will pick up), and my brain is now apparently trained to filter all things gender and technology related. I find myself doing it all day, but obviously this talk provided many points which are relevant to our class. I’ll throw a few out here for consideration, since I only saw Anne there. Be warned, these will get more disjointed near the end, mostly because I stopped being able to read my own handwriting.
- Eli wondered why he focuses on disability and queer issues during a time of war, as a self-identified peacenik, instead of trying to stop the bombs from falling. He then said that he identifies deep connections between queer issues, disability, and war. Citing “disability turned into a symbol of patriotism” from the pro-war side, and “disability of wartime children and civilians” (E.C.) from the peaceniks, he said that disability has become a sort of double-sided propaganda.
- Bodies as Objects- Eli showed an image from an old medical textbook containing a line-up style photograph of about half a dozen naked intersex children. These children had black bars over their eyes, purportedly for protection of their identities. However, a quote from Cheryl Chase (a familiar face to us!) speaks to the contrary, saying that the bar “saves the viewer from having to endure the gaze of the subject.” On the cover of Intersex in the Age of Ethics, a book of self-chosen photographs of intersex people, author Alice Dreger collaged several of these images together, plus one of her, naked, in the same pose as the children from the medical textbook with a bar over her eyes. Regardless of this bar, her friends immediately recognized the photo and began confronting her about it. This further illustrates the futility of the black bar as privacy and makes it more about removing humanity and personality from images which are uncomfortable for some people.
- Bodies that Need to be Cured- a poster from the Muscular Dystrophy Association was shown with a sweet and innocent young girl’s face under the caption “All she dreams about is running…” and the need to find a cure. “Transposing what we believe is right onto those who do not have it.” Eli said that he personally knows no one who is unable to run who dreams of being able to. We are seeing the lack of the ability to run as something which needs to be fixed in order for someone to live a happy and complete life. This can be applied to other things we’ve discussed, like women who are unable to conceive supposedly feeling incomplete as women.
- Lynn Manning’s poem, “The Magic Wand”, on internal experience vs external perceptions and how we can’t choose how people see us, only how we project ourselves. Also, how perceptions change based on what feature people identify you by the most. Makes me wonder what people identify me as (woman? white? short? bi?) and if they pick something which I would not have chosen for myself (goes back to Hillary’s post on labels).
- Sensationalized Bodies- “there are few images in dominant culture of bodily difference”, “people are sensationalizing trans bodies rather than seeing them as part of a broader spectrum”, “we are hungry to see representations of our ordinary and familiar lives and bodies”, “my body is just my body”.
At the end, Eli asked us to turn to our neighbor and do an exercise where we answered one of the following questions: “What have the thieves stolen from you?” or “How have you reclaimed your body?” The first, as I understood it, was how your perception of yourself has been altered by our visual culture, or what parts of you are no longer “yours” because they stand for something in society (Eli referenced Supersize Me and weight being used as an indentifier for poor health, when that is not always the case. Here, weight was stolen from people.). The second was much more straightforward, or so it seemed. My partner and I each took turns answering and, because we knew each other, we finished earlier than we might have had we been strangers. So we each tried to answer the other question. Neither of us could. I found that I could answer the first question easily, but I struggled and failed to find an answer to the second. She was just the opposite, not finding anything which she could conceive of as being stolen from her. Can y’all answer both questions? Neither of them?