First I would like to acknowledge a strong statement made by the anthropology department in the 6.1 video lecture, she states that our external self is connected to our internal self which suggests that everything done to enhance your body or appearance has some kind of an effect on your inner health and well-being but also it affects our mental health or psyche.
Culture directly affects the ideas of feminine beauty within a society. My initial reaction was more offensive toward this. But after the readings and lectures I was much more aware that society doesn’t affect our views – our culture manipulates society’s view. We learned this when discussing the Chinese foot binding, which i believe is a perfect example to compare the connection with culture. Foot binding began small and grew from a historic moment. It was most often used by the elite of the Chinese women. Most beautifying enhancements are used by the elite class level in today’s society as well. Early on it demonstrated wealth in their culture because it would theoretically immobilize the daughter from labor work, leaving her dependent on her family. Wealthy families could afford this where as poor families could not, because a less fortunate family depended on the child to work. So it was basically used to segregate the classes a man with a daughter who’s feet are bound would most likely receive more praise and respect than a man who couldn’t. In my eyes, women were used as objects to demonstrate socio-economic barriers – but that was a way of their culture, at the time. It also represented the obedience of the women wearing them, because of the pain it created. Yet no man was submitted to this pain, but the pain would have a positive reflection the man who instilled it. Very interesting culture!
This immobilization also contributed men to see the woman to be more faithful because she could not physically stray very far considering the negative effects of the foot binding. Then as time went on and the Chinese culture changed, so did foot binding. Eventually it became the social norm for ANY class of wealth to have labor working daughters and women. So when the chinse institutional society changed, then foot binding changed. Which is a clear correlation between the cultural impact on these functioning definitions of female beauty. However, had the practice abruptly stopped versus gradually slowing, it would have left many women very vulnerable and possibly without work or a husband.
Practices like foot binding, female genital cutting, and plastic surgery function in society based on what they are representing. Most female enhancements represent wealth. Foot binding and female genital cutting both correlate to religion as well and a long history of these practices. It is also considered a rite of passage. It also holds a strong social pressure that women fear. No woman wants to labeled as an outcast or unmarriageable or unclean. To a family if their child does not undergo FGC it can be seen as permanent isolation for their child, which leads to believe that it is not seen as a punishment for being female, but really a protective measure to ensure a happy loving life regardless of the risks and consequences. If female genital cutting abruptly stopped, which it has been tried to in the past. It may have led families to admit their daughters to unsafe and risky procedures to uphold their beliefs and cultural rituals.
In the united states, obesity is seen as a terrible and unfortunate fate. People will pay a lot of money to completely change their bodies. This is because of the American society has had on the culture of the American people.
These practices are all connected by the fact that each one is affected by the mass of society and culture. When discussing a theoretical perspective I think a really obvious one is how it has a huge impact on feminism. One could argue that many female enhancements are detrimental to the feminist movement. Especially when these types of enhancements are being led by men. In most cases it was the father and future husband expecting these women’s feet to be bound, the FGC was most often carried out by the father, and then in final many plastic surgery enhancements occur because the male partner wants those specific results and often pays for the procedure. Women die foot binding, undergoing FGC or even plastic surgery. But, since at the time society determined it was crucial that is all the matters.
Serena Williams Extra Credit
From what we have learned about intersectionality including the Oxford Pocket dictionary definition, we know that this is a clear example. Looking through the lens of intersectionality we see multiple factors; she’s black, she’s a woman, she’s wealthy with a very high social status. Serena Williams was in an extremely vulnerable state and successfully overcome society’s incorrect views and lives to share her story.
This particular mismanage of care is wildly inappropriate. Society sees appearances and makes judgment’s and opinions. Not only is she a woman undergoing a seemingly common procedure but she’s a black woman. Being a black woman I think she is often viewed as less intelligent and less powerful.
I think her only saving grace in this situation was not that she demanded specific care, but that her status as a famous athlete that carried the weight behind her demands. Had she been an average white or black woman I do not think she would have received the appropriated attention. Her successful career and high class status saved her life. I was disappointed while ready this article to learn the poor levels of care the United states has been preforming on pregnant women and this rise in death post-delivery.
Sanithia Williams, the MD who wrote the article illustrating the race problem amongst the medical community is also a black woman. She suggests that to really make a change on the epidemic and create a solution it must start with the doctors or medical providers. If they are activity listening to their patients and use their powers to enhance the voices of the often discriminated population we could see a real change.
Williams, Sanithia L. “Serena Williams’s Birthing Nightmare Is All Too Familiar for Black Women.” Tonic, Tonic, 12 Jan. 2018, tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/43qb5m/serena-williams-birth-black-women-maternal-mortality.
Intersectionality | Definition of intersectionality in English by Oxford Dictionaries. (2018). Retrieved July 31, 2018, from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/intersectionality