Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Musical interlude

Three versions of an excellent mod / RnB song, I'll Keep on Holding On...

I bought a new blue mod dress by Pop last weekend and it will be my outfit for my birthday next Wednesday. We will not be going to the student union that night. That would really be a (30 yr old) body out of place...

Monday, 11 July 2011

Apologising for taking up space

An incident occured last week that made me really think about bodies out of place and the space we can legitimately and empoweringly take up in public. I was in a shopping centre using the ladies' facilities. As I dried my hands, a woman came in through the door, and with the position of the hand dryer near the doorway, I stepped aside to let her pass. She said sorry. A few minutes later, I was outside in the food court waiting for my partner to come out of the mens' loos, and the woman walked past me again, through a gap of about a metre between me and a table, and again said sorry. She was of a larger frame. It really wasn't any trouble for me to let her pass both times. This might not be the reason at all (she might have been brought up to say sorry regardless) but to me she had seemingly felt like she needed to say sorry for the space she took up; as though a slimmer woman would have been able to get past much easier, like she was putting me out. This apologising for taking up space is an issue of empowerment and feminism/fat acceptance. Whatever our size, we should be able to walk around, taking up our space, as we need. However, as someone who has not experienced being a larger body, I am not able to speak for the experiences of people broader than me.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Celebrating body parts?

OK so I failed completely to take any acceptable photos for the DYB thing; given the small space in which I live, lack of full length mirror, loss of camera charger, and general lack of time too.

But I can do the writing part of the DYB project that attempts to celebrate what we like about our bodies rather than focusing on the "worst" parts. Firstly though some thoughts on this, but not expressed very articulately (it's Sunday morning!):  As a feminist sociologist-of-the-body I am a little uncomfortable with the idea of thinking of our bodies as aesthetically pleasing or not. Perhaps I could do this in a sort of rebellion against mainstream notions of ideal bodies by deconstructing the ideal (which I think is partly the idea behind academichic's project) and holding up body parts that don't quite look ideal as still being beautiful, etc. But I also think to hell with looking good and doing what society wants us to do with our bodies - which is to analyse them, critique their aesthetics and then make them "better"! Let's concentrate on what the body DOES, how it helps us to move through our worlds, the usefulness of certain parts of the body and how we can be empowered embodied people. How we establish a legitimate space to inhabit, and inhabit it unapologetically. The issue is, in our visual society the appearance of the body is often a central part of how it can be useful to us - Bourdieu's notion of distinction suggests that society and social position are written on the body; the habitus (dispositions, appearance, behaviours) comes to match the social position each person has; we work on the body to try to attain greater capital and a higher hierarchical position in a given social field.

To that end, I will produce two lists of body bits to celebrate: the parts I feel assist my physical and social moving through my world, and also the DYB aim of celebrating and loving parts of us that do not meet the Barbie girl ideal for example.

1. The useful parts
a. Brain! Without the brain I have, I would not be successful in my academic career.
b. Eyes: for reading! I may not have looked after my eyes that well since computer screens became integral to my life (I got glasses for short sightedness at age 21, having been using a tiny laptop to write essays) but this is primarily how I interact with the world and allow a. my brain to engage meaningfully. As do...
c. Ears: for listening and learning
d. Arms: as a tenpin bowler, my arms are fairly strong for chucking a 14lb ball down a lane time and again. They helped me to get on the British Student team.

2. The aesthetic parts
a. Slender ankles. Sometimes I feel that my ankles are too skinny especially when I have bulky outfits/shoes on that emphasise my small ankles. But dressed right they look good. So this week at the conferences, I wore knee length a-line skirts with high heeled, slim shoes
b. C cup chest. Not so big I feel self-conscious, not small either.
c. Legs. I don't exercise but they stay looking nice, and a size 10.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Conference update

The conference here in Ireland is just over and I am doing a short 2am recap. It has been a great half-week, I have been a bit star-struck meeting some more of the people whose work I read. No job offers but  got some lovely feedback from my presentation and chatted to some of the right people. Tonight at the gala dinner I felt like being at a conference full of PE teachers and teacher-educators is not the best place to be if you have body issues as many of the women are tiny, fit and toned. But I should get used to that, or not have body issues, or get more toned...

Also the lighting in my hotel room is dark/moody/dim so no clothing photos would come out properly - no
DYB pics for me yet - but I'll try to recreate what I wore when I get home. I got complimented on my new dress that has been sat in the wardrobe for two months waiting for the right opportunity. Also on my big black and white earrings, which was nice I guess.

Two more conferences next week! And a paper to submit to journal! When I am going to write my thesis which I told everyone I would have done by October??

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

I'm taking part in Dress Your Best

Academichic is running a Dress Your Best fortnight. Meaning dress to show off your best parts (rather than focusing on the bad parts). So I'm turning this neglected blog into a fashion blog for a short while. Especially as I am at conferences this week and next and hoping to impress potential employers, so I want to look professional and put together but not boring.

A Fairport Convention break


One Sure Thing

Letting people get away with sexism

In the last few months I have stewed over a few occasions where I have not called someone out on their sexism/racism/classism. Usually I am very quick to point out to people that what they've said is not okay. I imagine that I have a bit of a rep for being mean and a spoilsport and anal about things that are supposedly meant as jokes. But my justification (do I need one?) is that this is my activism because I don't get to do marching and letter writing and all that.

Most of the time I can't believe someone of my acquaintance would say what they have. I am all over Facebook people calling hacking "raping". Wrong.

But sometimes I don't tell someone they've said something bad. One was my future father in law (yeah, D and I got engaged! More on that later) so I felt rude pointing it out.

Another was a professor in my dept who had been asked to speak at a social for PhD students. He spoke about his life history in academia. His speech was peppered with outdated wisecracks about sexy female students - I can't bring myself to talk about it. I don't think he knew his audience. It was like he was still in the 1970s. And if he felt it acceptable to speak in such a way in a mixed, young audience, what does he talk like among his peers? Shudder. What was worst was that, as a professor, I felt unable to boo, hiss, whatever. I've never met him before. Everyone else clapped. Then the women I was sat with all turned to each other and we said, did he really just say that? We were stunned into silence. The social organisers had let him get away with. The other (also male) professors had let him get away with it - although they came over to us afterwards and apologised on his behalf! It has got round the department now, among people who weren't at the social. Two weeks later I am still annoyed that I let him get away with it - but I wasn't sure what I could have done. Certainly it explained a few things about my department if that is the culture that is allowed.

So, should I feel bad for calling people out, or for not calling people out? With whom is it acceptable to turn a blind eye? Those we respect? Older people who we *should* respect? If I stand my ground how do I come across to people?