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Sexualizing Space and Sexy Bodies Janeiro 24, 2013

Posted by paulo jorge vieira in geografias das sexualidades, queer theory, sexualidades e géneros, teoria social.
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The thorough imbrication of space and woman ‘at the very beginning’ could account for the widespread appearance of feminized space. Indeed, it is as if space is so intimately tied to the body of woman that this ungraspable founding moment is continually, and often unwittingly, reiterated. Certainly, only this kind of intimate imbrication and consistent iteration can begin to explain the numerous and diverse examples of feminized space with which this essay began.

Making apparent the corporeal basis for the production and reproduction of sexualized space may seem to simply disclose yet another instance of the utilization of woman for the ends of man, the effect of which could be argued to be the pacification, domestication and containment of both woman and space. However if the body-matter of woman is conceived as an essential and ‘active’ ingredient in the production of space, as Irigaray’s refiguring of metaphor suggests, then the containment of woman and space within the realm of masculine ideas becomes much more problematic.

First, ideas are not given primacy, they do not simply imprint passive matter but rather are entailed or entwined with body-matter. Since ideas are crucially entailed with female body-matter, the idea of space can no longer be conceived of as entirely ‘masculine’. Second, this body-matter is always already a writing – a corporeal text. As Derrida notes ‘the contemporary biologist speaks of writing and pro-gram in relation to the most elementary processes of information within the living cell’ (1974: 9). Body-matter is thus an active signifying substance, it is not simply the passive recipient of social constructions. And hence the passivity of space is by no means guaranteed by its ‘association’ with female body-matter. Finally, this production, rather than containing and delimiting woman and/or space, actually opens the boundaries of both by intertwining them from the very beginning. So the body-model does not secure a clear boundary for notions of ‘human’ space; on the contrary, this ‘comparison’ of the female body and space profoundly complicates the identity of both terms. Such a confounding of discrete, containable identities indicates that revealing the sexualized nature of space does indeed have profound implications for how we view woman.

“Sexualizing Space” de Sue Best (in SEXY BODIES – The strange carnalities of feminism, Edited by Elizabeth Grosz and Elspeth Probyn, 1995, pp.190)

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