Graduate Magazine: Is Woman a Body or not only? (n°288-289: The body)

Graduate Magazine: Is Woman a Body or not only? (n°288-289: The body)
Graduate Magazine: Is Woman a Body or not only? (n°288-289: The body)

VSevery woman is a body. All bodies are mortal. The woman is mortal. I remember the syllogism in final year philosophy class, unstoppable, which assured me that Socrates had indeed died centuries and centuries ago.. All men are mortalincluding Socrates, etc.

Where is the place of women in deduction? If Descartes had been a woman, would the cogito have been more nuanced, Cleopatra’s nose shorter, and Attila’s horses less vigorous? When we speak of the body of a man or woman, we mean all the matter that is united with the soul of that man. Ouh ouh Descartes, does woman have a soul!? I hear nothing and try my luck with Diderot: We probably change like women over time. But time doesn’t break us down as much asShes.

Good. OK.

I look at myself in the mirror. How are you ?


I open the latest issue of Graduatesreview of The French Association of Women University Graduates, which promotes the visibility of women researchers in Europe. This collection brings together heterogeneous and referenced points of view, theoretical without being academic, sometimes relating to simple anecdotes, reports, and even subjective feelings. There must be answers here to my uncertainties, questions that relaunch The Question (of the body, of women, etc.), sensitive openings.

I can speed up my reading, return to the previous chapter, take each step explored by an art historian (Mylène Sarant), a scenographer (Sarah Cassenti), a militant activist (Sophia Antoine), a psychiatrist (Philippe Wallon), a psychologist (Claude Mesmin, editor-in-chief), and others, who question the body in all its aspects: artistic, political, philosophical and social, fictional, and even, at the end of the work, the created-copied-pasted body of Generative Intelligence (Anne-Sophie Coppin).

Natural automaton that infinitely surpasses all automatons artificial according to Leibniz, the body can be joyful, melancholic, intelligent or cumbersome, aging, finally regenerated by the filters of algorithms. From makeup to tattoo, seducer or seduced, naked or camouflaged by the folds of clothing, we remember that in the Baroque age the face was a thousand times more erotic: Tears, considered one of the most tangible expressions of human passions (Mylène Sarant). We find the emotion of shepherds in 17th century pastoral fiction in the fascinating analysis of Mylène Sarant: All lovers swell a few rivers with their tears (S. Kerkovian, Thematic of Astrée, Honoré Champion, 1991).

Because it questions a quantity of affects which surpass and overflow it, the body challenges us in the beneficial fiction of a rural world impervious to wars (of religion), to political intrigues (monarchy), to the harshness of the existence (people versus nobility): The plastic beauty of the lovers but also their great vulnerabilityrabilitcorporeal is the object of keen attention on the part of writers of the 16th and 17th centuries, in the sphere of the pastoral, a literary genre which celebratesbre llove in a bucolic and idyllic setting. A closed, cozy universe, where the eternally pink flesh irrigated by tears, remains intact like a Jouy motif which decorates the children’s room: we are not ashamed to cry by the fountains. The fact that the artists favored reprpresentation of the shepherds in tears deserves ain-depth study. From the little weeping shepherdess to the violent passion of the great Saint (Thérèse in ecstasy), from Bernini to Philippe de Champaigne, the tears of Mary Magdalene are like pearls, hardened things on a woman’s face fixed for eternity .

For Madame de Scudéry and her circle, the pastoral was the feminine genre par excellence, and it was a man, Charles Sorel, who observed in 1671, that the pastoral is the place of the triumph of their sex…

We are still far from the revolutions and the body without organs of Deleuze, freed from the Oedipal injunctions of dad-mom psychoanalysis.

This transdisciplinary review allows a jump to the century of May 68, far from suave sweetness and voluptuousness: the woman now freed from patriarchal injunctions, can explore in the field of art her sexual or maternal body (or both). ), or even domestic violence and the coded representation of one’s appearance. Marie Bagi looks back on these Body Art years, when the feminine condition was questioned without concessions, sometimes with claimed masochism. Marina Abramovic uses her body to assert her place in a world dominated by men. As the medium made the message, the female body becomes support AND message.

In 1974, Abramovic offered the audience at the Morra studio in Naples a performance with the instructions Do with me what you want. It renders the concept of woman-object ineffective, impossible and paradoxical. A variety of small sexual assaults were carried out on her body. Her throat was slashed by someone who could drink her blood… She was so committed to this project that she would not have resisted rape or murder…

This is the time when Orlan sells his kisses for 5 francs (€0.76 today, that’s not much, inflation having caused the euro and the price of kisses to rise since then). Where Gina Pane reenacts The Crucifixion in her own way (scarifications on the arms, droplets of female blood).

In the chapter dedicated to the social and political body, Sophia Antoine, artist and feminist activist, confides: My skin cracks, too short for my 176 centimeters, it cracks on my ankles… it has never been able to contain me. We could compare the feminist movement to a story of skin stretched like a drum, to prevent toxicityfrom the world, to sexism and other disgusting things of the patriarchy.

Alice Neel

Another point of view returns to the fundamentals of philosophy and the eternal separation of soul and body. Researcher Jing Xie explains Chinese tradition to us through non-separation of the two notions: we can therefore put into perspective the anxiety faced with nothingness, with the idea that our soul will disappear forever. (In the Phaedo from my philosophy class, I remember that Plato made me relive the last hours of Socrates). With the vital breath of Chinese tradition (impossible to envisage within the framework of Western ontology), I no longer fear death and degeneration (I can do without moisturizer). There will be neither being nor nothingness, but an always updated form of the concept of being born and dying, in a permanent back and forth.

In Say the bodySonia Bressler points out the impossibility to physically embrace one’s own body: am I capable of saying something about it? …To what extent are bodily intimacy and the social bonds of the body soluble in our writings?

Merleau-Ponty solved the problem by making the thought of the body a subject of experience and perception. Readers of Proust and Virginia Woolf know this, happily navigating among the atoms of an updated, sensory, fascinating memory.

As for the body controlled and regulated by institutions, Michel Foucault will be able to decipher it in Keep an eye on and punish : Disciplinary control does not simply consist of teaching, it imposes the best relationship between a gesture and the overall attitude of the body, which is the condition of efficiency and speed.

Where does the woman (her body) fit into this corpus of concepts, discourses, representations?

For the Depardieu-Trump duo, it is enough to reduce it to small pieces here and there (a pussy, a buttocks). The Piccoli-Bardot pair offered us a much more sophisticated and much more elegant device (THE Contempt): Godard showed the actress completely naked. For commercial reasons required by the production, Bardot undresses then lies down alongside Michel Piccoli. If today a woman says to a man in the street And how do you like my breasts?she will end up in a bed at best, and at worst, in the police station.

Of which act.

Sonia Bressler, Claude Mesmin [dir.]Graduate magazine n° 288-289: Le Corps, March 2024, editions La Route de la Soie, 210 pages, €19.



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