Technologies of the gendered body by anne balsamo

Summary:

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Anne Balsamo’s discussion on the “Technologies of the Gendered Body” declares that the human body is not only an entity in its natural form as we see it, but the fusion of the discussion of its innate corporeality and the accounts for such claim. Described as a material object, Balsamo pointed out a series of examples to reinforce the assertion, which includes cosmetic surgery, in-vitro fertilization and body building.

In cosmetic surgery for instance, with technology nowadays entwined with it, the possibility of the human body’s reproduction is endless, from a completely different-looking individual to a brand new person that she opted to become. For women, who are more blatantly absorbed with this phenomenon is regarded in the book as someone who is passively victimized by the same whether it be a form of oppression or as a venue for self-assurance, women still mindfully take these steps to make their bodies worthy for themselves and for others. On one hand, it is also discussed that cosmetic surgery is also a way to establish cultural identity as for those who get piercings, tattoos or hair reconstructions.

The pregnant body has been objectified by its sudden transformation into a “shared” body once impregnated. And that it would be willing to undergo the pain and humiliation for such a momentous event.  This fragmentation supports further objectification   that reproductive technology and its development may be one of the instruments for the bolstering of control over the flesh of a female’s body. This control or power is then institutionalized through the growth of medical techniques that focus on reproduction and the reforms on legal rights or responsibilities of parents, donors, fetuses, and resulting children.

Nowadays, the body, or the woman’s body in particular is physically reconstructed to the point of it being materialized through the function of technology. Technology which literally maneuvers the flesh of the female body to pave way for the rebirth of a new body in, the form of a cyborg woman.

 

“Astronauts in the Sperm World”:

The Renegotiation of Masculine Identities in Discourses on Male Contraceptives

By Nelly Oudshoorn

This article based it’s analysis on three sources 1) publications and journals covering  reproductive and contraceptive research between 1976 and 2000 2) protocols, information materials for volunteers of clinical trials and press bulletins of the same in the UK and the US; and 3) results of the feasibility studies regarding the acceptance of such processes.

To recruit men for clinical trials, a press bulletin launched by the University of Manchester’s Communications Office on 1993 stressed on male contraception as an avenue to further promote gender equality. Furthermore, to achieve the same ends, a poster in Edinburgh reads “Fed up by the lack of choice of men, Want to help your partner get off the female pill?” The communications to encourage men to take part in clinical trials are said to lay a hand on the nature of men’s altruism, or that they be recognized as responsible and caring partners. Surprisingly enough, this image surfaced during focus-group discussions and completed questionnaires in five clinical centers around the world. Just a little below the surface are reasons that dwell on the inconvenience of condom and vasectomy and the hope of having control over their fertility.

The men who have participated in the contraceptive clinical trials did not receive much support from the other men around them, who thought of such engagement as something which leans away from the principles of hegemonic masculinity. However, females or more especially their partners generally thought of this as an excellent idea.

To redirect the reaction to the non-hegemonic nature of male contraception,  a poster in Edinburgh was put up showing an astronaut with a bubble in the upper left corner saying “The First Man on the Pill”. In a rather clever way, the poster represents that the men who participates in the clinical trial of male contraception is performing a heroic act like what Neil Armstrong did.

In the reports regarding the results of the trial, men who were a part of it was commended for their willingness to undergo and bear the requirements of the testing.

The clinical trials for the science of male reproduction gave way to the discovery that there is an apparent recognition of male contraception as incompatible to the notion on hegemonic masculinity, that is, the nature of men is unsuited for any attempts of contraception and that women are the only ones who have the responsibility to do it. Thus, the men who have been asked to be on the male contraceptives, as they were considered to be active participants or initiators of the study, were regarded as altruistic who wanted to mitigate the adverse effects of the pill.