Bodies That Matter–Whose Body Matters

Bodies That Matter–Whose Body Matters

Many who engage in Cultural Studies, Philosophy, and Gender Studies know Judith Butler’s book, Bodies That Matter, has been very influential in the field.

However, today I do not plan to enter into high academic rhetoric or debate. It is better I use the word “rhetoric” than “debate,” because the former is neutral while the latter carries the implied meaning of an argument. Where there is an argument, there is a heated argument. Where there is a heated argument, there is the possibility that the participants will lose their rationality.

By that, I mean they can become irrational, which in everyday language means they go nuts and they can never be reached anymore. The only choice after that is to leave them alone and leave them.

By “bodies that matter,” Judith Butler means bodies on multiple levels.

Today I want to talk a little bit about the personal body, the social body, perhaps the economic body, the cultural body, the ethnic body (but not the racial body, for I intensely dislike the term ‘race’), and the respected body.

I know I am not following Judith Butler’s line of argument, for she has started from the primary concern arising out of her book’s cutlural matrix by focusing on the sexed body.

I have to reread her book if I want to engage that line.

I only want to draw a few lines from my own experience, from things that happen everyday.

First off, the personal body, the private body. I have been admonished for being selfish, even narcissistic by very learned people, many of whom that I highly respect. I have a very hard time coming to terms with the words “selfish,” and “narcissistic,” because I firmly believe I am neither selfish nor narcisstic.

How can you be so sure? Some people simply love to challenge me, even if they do not know how to carry the argument. You can never lose by posing questions, they think. Once I pose questions, she has to answer and she has to answer well.

I am a woman. I haven’t forgotten that.

I tend to consider others’ interests before I consider my own interests. That demonstrates I am not selfish.

I also tend to love others a little bit more than I love myself, in all three cases. That proves I am not narcisstic, for by narcisstic, we know that person loves him or herself so much that they cannot do anything except admiring their own image in the water or in the mirror, falling in love with themselves, and eventually die of that.

I have never done that. I am not falling in love with myself and eventually die of that.

The U.S. culture is founded on too much self-love and too much self-interests.

Self-love and self-respect carry completely different meanings.

For an individual and a culture to become great, the individual and the cutlure has to break through the hardened walls of self-love.

I highly recommend those who understand painting to search and take a look at a series of paintings titled “The Progress of Self-Love.” I have forgotten the artist’s name. His name is in my files, but I really do not want to go and search this time.

He is young but extremely sagacious.

When I say I tend to love others a little bit more than I love myself, I have proofs. In the first case, it is I who flew over half the globe, in a plane for 13 hours, and sometimes for 30 hours, if there were connecting flights, to go and visit the man. After three trips, I ended the relationship. Why? The man is too selfish. He could not make one trip to maintain the relationship. He has no desire to keep the relationship. Why should I bother?

On one of the trips, I was so tired for having sat for 30 hours, after the most trying, an almost suicidal semester, I simply could not sit anymore. I would lie down on any surface, if I could, if I did not consider that I am an educated lady, that I should not lie down on my luggage when there were not enough seats in the airports.

The man thought his body mattered too much, compared to my body. He could not tire his own body.

I could not always tire my own body so that he did not have to tire his body.

I said good-bye to him, permanently.

That was a marriage.

Regarding the second man, please be ware this has never been classified as “a relationship,” because “relationship” carries a special meaning in the United States, meaning it is often a sexual relationship or a relationship between a girlfriend and a boyfriend, which still carries the sexual involvement, the same imbalance, and extreme imbalance, still happened.

It has only been a relationship regarding work and profession. It has never progressed into a so-called romantic relationship because one side is not available.

I never trouble or touch a man if he is not available. It is too much trouble. I am extremely lazy when it comes to those kind of things. I simply do not have the patience and stupidity to wait for a man to “become free,” for I am skeptical about a man’s promise of leaving his wife and entering into another marriage.

Between words and actions, I tend to stress actions more than I stress words. Some people have promised me a ton of promises. After a few years, that ton of promises of his end up zero. A ton of promises does not worth a cent, be it a U.S. cent or a Chinese cent.

It is fortunate I have never relied on such empty promises.

Such stupidity on women’s side exist anytime, anywhere.

I have told you I am an educated lady, so I know a little bit about life, not very much, just a little bit.

I have got my doctoral degree, a real solid one, one that you can hammer 10,000 times if you so wish and you will see it still retains the same luster, in a U.S. university. Besides, I take my own standards as a measurement of my achievements, for I haven’t succumbed to a low standard if everybody around decides that is the preferable benchmark. So I can safely regard myself as “an educated lady” without secretly being laughed at, even under sleeves.

The second man turns out to be much much worse than the first, for his only interest is to milk as much values out of me as possible. He could not even pretend he loved me. His interests have always been stealing my money, stealing my intellectual property, stealing my job application files, stealing my jobs, stealing my social reputation, stealing my credit card numbers, and my credit history. Pretty much everything you can think of, he steals.

My rough estimation is that from 2007 to 2010, the second man has made about 13 million  U.S. dollars from me in direct and indirect social benefits, social reputation, and personal monetary gains. This is a very reserved estimate, for I am not that good at calculating how much value I have produced in these four years.

Thirteen million U.S. dollars is a lot of money. Wouldn’t you agree? Wouldn’t you agree if a person has made thirteen million U.S. dollars of values, the person deserves a very good, respected life?

Of course, that has never happened.

So, what choice do I have? I throw the man over the wall and tell him to “get lost” and never show his despicable face before me.

How come I have not learned from my lessons from the first man that I threw away that I have to go and make similar mistakes again?

There is the possibility of a third man showing up. The strange thing about him maybe he might have been the first there but he has never made himself known to me. This man may be the one I have been searching for, all this time.

Life is very strange.

What do I want? If I treasure myself, and if I love a man, I will treasure him and tell him to be careful, not to get hurt. There is nothing wrong with treasuring yourself. If you love yourself and you can extend your love to others, there is nothing wrong with that healty degree of self-love. If you respect yourself, and you extend your self respect towards others, it is a quality that deserves celebration.

For everything, there is always a healthy degree and an unhealty degree. Too much of anything is not good. Balance is the key.

One simple wisdom in life is if you love a man or a woman, you always want a formal marriage, because that is the highest celebration, the highest praise, you give to each other. All kinds of other relationships exist, but none of them can compare with a marriage, no matter how beautifully the man talks that a less-than-marriage is the best choice. No woman should be that stupid as to believe the less-than-marriage option.

Truth is always ridiculously simple.

Of course, I want a marriage, a marriage that both sides complement each other, a marriage of mutual love, respect, understanding, and support.

Isn’t that requirement too high to reach? It is almost impossible to find!

Why should you be so narrow-minded? Why should you ask so little from life?

When possible, I always ask for what is best from life, the best possibility, the best life, the best man, the best career, and the best environment. I give the best, so I am fully entitled to ask for the best in return.

If you always start from the lowest common denominator, you can never get anything good from life.

I am entitled to the best. I firmly believe so. If others are jealous, let them be jealous. What do I care about their envy and jealousy?

It is not bad to be very picky, in some things, in all things if you can afford to.

All of my bodies–my personal body, my cultural body, my economic body, my ethnic body, and my social body–are extremely valuable.

Isn’t that nice?

All rights reserved. Xianfeng Mou. 1.22.2011



















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