A Space · Discourses for Enlightenment

It’s Not that Time of the Month!

There won’t be single woman who hadn’t heard of the statement that triggers nearly the title of my writing. For sure who had a really bad day at office, and it’s clearly visible that she was trying to hide it from her boyfriend. She seemed like expecting attention that ‘her boyfriend’ will ask dramatically, “Baby! How Was Your Office Today”/Is Everything Alright With You, My Love?” And He ended up asking a very silly question just because she couldn’t choose the menu of the dine/exchanged her cold eyes several times, that is, the universal question- “It must be your that time of the month, isn’t it?” I’m sure.” Okay!

‘That’ time of the month! Yes that is the phrase mostly good men use instead of saying or asking about periods/menstruation/monthly hormonal cycle women go through. As there is no “time of the day/hour/minute/moment” to address men’s hormonal cycle  so, the special phrase is used by the conservative society only for women. It provides unquestionably a ‘special’  attention to address women, particularly women’s sexuality. I won’t brag on her reproduction capability for which she had been kept inside house, because reproduction pays no economic influence that only productions do! Right? Even I won’t prolong the radical issues saying that, ‘menstruation is such a pain in ass, I should have been a boy instead!’ I would rather dignify the insecurity that woman goes through when she is at the cycle. Okay! Leave it! It can be a family problem, an unsettled mental state, or may be it’s not the right time for her. It is just an expression that she wants to give. It is her state of mind. Men, unfortunately, it is not always the ‘Time of the Month’ nor it is ‘Pre/post-menstrual Syndrome’. Sometimes, women just expect the guy to understand her ‘state of mind’ rather than just generalizing her problems with hormonal issues. She might be in need of mental support than physical. Isn’t it?

Yeah sure it happens every month. It bothers. It has immense pain inside. Sometimes the pain is just intolerable. But it is not just PMS always. It is the lack of self-confidence that bothers her more. It is that red color that panics her, freaks her out. It is her sleep cycle that she knows will be interrupted due to menstruation. It is the fear of public exposure. It is her anxiety and shame that she might lag behind in the competent world. It is indeed painful. It is not always a ‘biological pain’; it is a ‘mental soreness’. It is not about ‘elder son/only son’ issue, it is her biological identity crisis. It is about social acceptance and uncertainty. She might be challenged psychologically, financially, might have phobia of getting married soon to an unknown person, and scared of being ‘adjusted’ with her so-called ‘new family’. I have never seen a girl without doubts whether she is established or not. A girl who knew every household yet had doubts on her cooking skills because the judgment is ultimately going to save her marriage, although she was from a prominent marketer background yet had doubts on her own capability. It is not like she was born with doubts; it is the society who doubted since she had ever existed.

PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome), isn’t it another issue to demean womanhood? Did we ever ask them back that, ‘Why can’t I be just annoyed/irritated/upset/depressed on my own?’ ‘Can’t it be only my emotions rather than my biology?’ One can pass the question just by saying, ‘It is scientifically proved.’ Okay! So, who proved this?  A castrated woman or ‘un-reproductive man’? Is that proved scientifically or enforced socially and then imposed psychologically to believe/trust that ‘THAT TIME OF THE MONTH’ is the mother of all women ‘mood swings’! Did we? I wonder.

   

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Discourses for Enlightenment · Re-reading books

“Wholeness is in fact a hallucination” – Re-reading Lennard J. Davis

Like the studies of gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity disability studies has become prominent in recent decades, disability studies focuses on identity, the way that identity relates to the body, and the social constructions of marginality and normality. A pioneer of disability studies, Lennard Davis broke theoretical ground in 1995 with this book, calling attention to an aspect of identity that until then had “been relegated to a sideshow, a freak-show at that, far away from the academic midway of progressive ideas and concerns.”

The body is a social construction rather than an universal concept, Davis’ disability studies starts with a critique of “normalcy”, which functions to stigmatize as abnormal those with difference or limited abilities. In Enforcing Normalcy, he traces the background history of the idea of the normal that we get to acquire through the society, which permitting that people fit in the limits of a ‘normal curve’. Beforehand, Davis argues, the “ideal” is the primary model in western culture. Some disability theorists trace the emphasis on the normal body as abnormal, relegating it to marginal status. Especially in the context of South Asia, we have seen the rise of the “normal ideal”, especially in terms of generalizing gender relations, for example, in Bollywood movies, which depict the ideal bodies as normal as and less than ideal bodies as abnormal in the real and regular life.

Then, what is ‘wholeness’? If wholeness exists then fragments as well, then who are fragments? Any defense of normalcy by definition it always enforces an opposition to; it celebrates binary and enforces different layers of power in terms of social and cultural hierarchy. What is even the concept of the ‘abnormal’.  Who are abnormal?

According to Michel Foucault, who examined the disciplining and medicalization of the body as a form of social control, the body has emerged as one of the central theoretical categories in recent years. (The History of Sexuality,1990) The assertion of normalcy creates it a static standard in the society and therefore it becomes a false conception of human. We have unmoving motionless personhood conception, we have done away with the fluidity and horrors and demands of actual life. According to the society if we want to depict the word ‘wholeness’, it is clear that it recognizes a complete-self which is nothing but a mirror-phase, as mirror is our only recognition where we can see ourselves ‘completely’. It always depends on the eyes of the observer and mirror otherwise everyone is fragmented and misrecognized. This mirror and self becomes the eyes of the socio-political construction. So, the opposite of whole is incomplete which is nothing just the opposite. Whole/incomplete, abled/disabled, normal/abnormal, functional/dysfunctional, all these notions came into our minds once we get ourselves into the mirror which is the eyes of the society. ‘Women are incomplete without men and men are incomplete without women’, thus all these is nothing but a cultural construction, whereas the important question is, what is ‘incompleteness’? What actually society requires from us? Industrialized capitalism and commercialization put the binaries so deeply in to our minds that even we often get confused about ourselves that whether we are whole or not. In reality, the concept of ideal body shifts to the concept of normal body; which is nothing but a myth of normal body. The society wants to enforce that if you are functional industrially and commercially, then you are not disabled. The question is what is the standard of ‘ability’, apart than analyzing economics and sciences?

Turning to psychoanalysis, Davis draws on Lacan’s notion of the primordial fragmented body to understand the constant formation of disabled bodies. The abnormal body suggests that one’s coherent identity is actually an unreal structure that merely conceals the fundamentally fragmentary nature of identity. Basically disability reminds person about fragmentation. So as Davis puts it, “wholeness is in fact a hallucination.” (1995)

“Visualizing the Disabled Body” questions the representation of disability and normalcy in art, literature and film. Confronting with the striking comparison between famous Greek statue, the Venus de Milo, and a contemporary woman with disabilities, Davis queries our aesthetics and social prejudices that led us to think that armless and disfigured statue as ‘the Ideal of Western Beauty and Eroticism” and a living woman without arms is ugly, deformed, unaccepted and de-eroticized. He looked at the ideal body in the classical art form of the nude and considers the interplay between the ideal Venus and the monstrous Medusa in Greek mythology. (1995)

After deconstructing this dichotomy, he investigated the images of disability prevalent in a range of works of arts and literature, indicating Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the photography of Diane Arbus and even films like Frankenstein and Born on the Fourth of July. Davis believes that the visual arts have done a magnificent job of centralizing normalcy and of marginalizing different bodies and hence excel at their socially performative role of ‘enforcing’ normalcy.

Davis considers Frankenstein in terms of the fragmented, bizarre body.  In an innovative reading he sees that the Scientists creation as representing a person with disabilities. The creature is horrible because he is a composite made from separate body parts, thereby literalizing the notion we hold from early infancy of the primordial, fragmented body.

Defending normalcy, we treat responses and conditions as mere deviations on the theme of human life. Ron Kovic, the disabled war veteran in Born on the Fourth of July, who is portrayed as “non-sexual or incapable of a worthwhile relationship”. These representations are not appropriate reflections of the actual experience of disabled people. These kinds of stereotypes influence negative attitudes towards disabled people, and make a sense of disturbance about the nature of disability. In other words, the disability itself is often used as a hook by writers and film-makers to draw audiences into the story. This should aid us in recognizing something being ‘out-there’, ‘peculiar’, and even ‘outrageous and offensive’, is no reason to consider it wrong. Yes, it is not ‘normal’ in the sense of common. It is not.

References:

Davis, J. Lennard (1995).Visualizing the Disabled Body: The Classical Nude and the Fragmented Torso. Enforcing Normalcy (pp. 126-157).Verso. London: Routledge.

Foucault, Michel (1990) The History of Sexuality Volume 1: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley, London: Penguin.Enforcing-Normalcy-1050st-03a8990f3e49ade5b7578bd0f789165c

 

Life

In the Memory of Love

I don’t know why, it is only the season of dreams and me!

I don’t know why it is only the night of memoirs and me!

I don’t know why it is aching? What is this empty soreness inside?

I never felt this before.

We can’t be happy without each other, can we?

But what to do when we are not destined together? 

I live with memories; and these are tears of happiness in my eyes. 

I Don’t know why, it is just a coincident and I.

I don’t know why my tears get colors in rain. The weather was good. 

I wish it could turn into pearls.

I wish I could be a mermaid and live thousand years with this sorrow.

I don’t know why it’s throbbing me every moment, yet I have started loving this.

The weather has stopped breathing.

The weather is worse.

Will you never come back? 

And then suddenly I refused to live.

Because today the weather is worse.

We can’t be happy without each other, can we?

But what to do when we are not destined together.

I live with memories; it has brought tears of happiness in my eyes.

I Don’t know why, it is just a coincident and I.

Life

The Good Bye! 

Thank you for being with me!

I will remember our happy moments forever. 

Now I am returning all my words those I promised once to you. 

Please forget if I have hurt you in anyway. 

I know you will be with someone who deserves your love and dream. I know it is painful to get to know the truth but please be trutly happy.

The Love I have been dreaming of, is an illusion. 

I was spreading love and you were suffocating. 

My dream was all so close to me. But all I can do with it is to watch you without words.

In the city of strangers I lived day by day painting love, waiting and hoping that you ll be with me someday. 

Now I know that I was wrong. 

I was never there.  My heart could not make it to you.  

I told you that you do not love me, you never believed. I knew your feelings because I loved you. It’s too late now. 

I trusted you and wanted to prove myself wrong about you. 

See what you did at the end. I loved you always all alone. 

I never wanted to let this love fly away. 

But I am sorry. I Lose and You Win.

Life

The Bird!

The bird called me and said of his wound on the wing.

Uttered the intense soreness in his feathers,

that how the chain was pricked and entered on his leg.

And he tried to break the cage with his beak that was injured bloodily.

He showed me, how he can be the glint on his own.

I freed him from the cage; he needed to flee for life.

But I imprisoned him in the other cage.

Now, we are two prisoners there, accusing each other.

And it continues for years after years.

Meanwhile, rain comes and the darkness too.