The Body

1848 Words8 Pages
The social and cultural conditions in which we live in today continue to perpetuate and maintain the rape culture that pervades our lives, especially for the lives of individual women. As a feminist thinker, Ann Cahill works to change this by challenging current definitions of rape as assault, and addressing questions of why rape exists in the first place, and how we can begin the prevention process. In Cahill’s book, “Rethinking Rape”, she approaches the subject of rape by analyzing the works of contemporary feminist theorists like Judith Butler, who perceive the female body as a potential site of resistance against gender-based oppression and a “larger system of sexual domination” (Cahill 32). Although each is addressing very different issues in feminist theory, Cahill does draw upon some of Butler’s ideas about the imitation and performance of gender in Butler’s essay “Imitation and Gender Insubordination.” Cahill does this in order to further articulate her critique of “the body” and the role it plays in the phenomenon of rape “as an embodied experience of women” at the level of the individual (Cahill 109). There are certain concepts besides the performance of gender that both Authors touch on including “the body”, heterosexual norms as inhibitions to attaining liberation, the relationship between sexuality and gender, and the problematic nature of social constructs. By comparing and contrasting the works of Cahill and Butler, this paper will explore the importance and complexities of “the body”, the pivotal role it plays in Cahill’s critique of the phenomenon of rape, and how Butler’s critique of “coming out of the closet” values the notion of gender “performativity” more than the notion of“the body” itself. Before de... ... middle of paper ... ... feminine body so we internalize that ideal and subject ourselves to the “intrusive, expensive, and high maintenance practices in order to be rendered beautiful” (Cahill 155). There are a number of factors that play into the perpetuation of rape culture, the hierarchy of gender, and gender performativity. The one thing they all have in common that is essential to understanding how men have been able to oppress us for so long and continue to oppress us. “The body” is the one thing that can maintain our inferiority and powerlessness, but it can also be the one thing that can free us from the same system of oppression. Works Cited Butler, Judith. "Imitation and Gender Insubordination." The Second Wave: A Reader in Feminist Theory. Ed. Linda Nicholson. New York: Routledge, 1997. 300-15. Print. Cahill, Ann J. Rethinking Rape. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2001. Print.

More about The Body

Open Document