12 January 2008

The Body

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"Just as with codes of looking, there are 'codes of touching' which vary from culture to culture. A study by [Dean C.] Barnlund in 1975 depicted the various parts of the body which informants in the USA and Japan reported had been touched by opposite-sex friends, same-sex friends, their mother and their father. The resulting body-maps show major differences in cultural norms in this regard, with body areas available for touch being far more restricted in Japan than in the United States. An earlier [1966] study of American students showed differences in the patterns for males and females in the amount of touching of different areas of the body by the various others. The students reported that they had been touched most by their mothers and by friends of the opposite sex; their fathers seldom touched more than their hands."
~ Daniel Chandler, "Semiotics for Beginners"

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"So too, in the midst of what we were given to believe was an AIDS pandemic, the body became a battlefield. Young people, forcibly alienated from their sexuality, began piercing, tattooing, cutting, and scarring their bodies, employing their bodies as a kind of canvas by inscribing on their flesh the deep conflicts of our period having to do with sexuality, gender, disease, and puritanical repression; as if to assert that despite the anti-sexual edicts they still controlled their lives and would do as they choose. And if they piecemeal destroyed their bodies, it was to appropriate the large-scale destruction wrought not just by AIDS but by the AIDS ideology in its attempt to nullify sexuality of any kind outside of marriage."
~ Harold Jaffe, "Outcast Narrative," in Electronic Book Review

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(via Tattoo City)

"How we perform sex, what we feel when we do particular things, depends on our cultural (not national) contexts: how we were taught to do them and by whom, what we were permitted to try out, whether we talked to others about what we were doing and what we wanted. When we engage sexually with others, we learn and teach, we influence each other and change how we do things -- often without knowing it."
~ Laura Agustín, "The Sex in 'Sex Trafficking'," in American Sexuality Magazine

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