Review of Related LiteratureFeminismThe term feminism has different uses which depend on how writers define it. Some writers use it to refer to the social, cultural and political movements, theories and philosophies that are concern on the practices in the society. Some also use the term feminism referring to the discrimination of women or an idea focusing on the equality of gender in the society. In Roman time, females were depicted as the weaker sex. Even in the Chinese astrology, feminine side portrays the weaker side. This belief was then carried even up to now.
In the past, women were deprived from the rights men were gaining. There was an unequal distribution of rights and role in the society. Because of this issue in the society, in 19th century, feminism emerged, a movement for the right of women. This movement led to the right of women to do things equal to the things men were doing such as right for education. This movement also led women to have such involvement in politics and in the molding of the society, and at the same time, beauty of women played an important role in the society including not only in the social and political aspects but also as well as in the cultural and science and technology aspects.
The Body as a Text for Femininity“The body is a medium of culture, ” this was according to Bordo. Anthropologist Mary Douglas argued that the body ‘is a powerful symbolic form, a surface on which the central rules, hierarchies, and even metaphysical commitments of a culture are inscribed and thus reinforced through the concrete language of the body’ (Bordo 1993: 165).
Bourdieu and Foucault also argue that the body is ‘a practical, direct locus of social control’ (ibid). Thus, body is regulated by cultural norms. Bordo argues that women, nowadays, are spending a lot of time on the managing and disciplining on their bodies which make them less socially oriented and are focusing more on self-modification. She also pointed out that the discipline and normalization of the female body should be recognized as an extremely durable and flexible form of social control. But because of the preoccupation with appearance nowadays which could become a ‘backlash phenomenon reasserting gender configurations against shift in power relation, ’ according to her, she proposed an effective political discourse that thinks of the ‘network of practices, institution, technologies that sustain position of dominance and subordinate in particular domain’ (1993: 165).
Furthermore, Naomi Wolf, the author of “The Beauty Myth, ” (1991) also argues that the beauty myth is political which a way of maintaining patriarchy in the society is. It also allows women to enter the labour force under controlled conditions. This system, as she claims, keeps women under control of their own insecurities.
These insecurities keep women in making their body more attractive and acceptable to the norm of society. On the other hand, Shilling has another view. According to her, the increased interest towards ‘embodied’ sociology in the early 1980’s is due to four, major, different factors; first, it was the rise of the second wave of feminism which has in turn raised struggles related to the gender-based and body-based society; second, the ageing of the population in Western countries, which has turned the interest of social sciences towards the care of the body; third, the new consumer society and culture that has changed the way that people see their own bodies and finally the rapid progress of science and medicine that has totally changed the perception of what is body and has caused a ‘crisis in its meaning’ (Shilling 1993: 32).
These information and reasoning, in the new social and cultural framework, the body had appeared to be rediscovered and reconstructed. The debate is now over the new ways of understanding the various perspectives of the body and how it is formed and regulated according to the rules that western, capitalist society has set.
The ‘new’ body ‘has been lived differently, […] subjected to various technologies and means of control and incorporated into different rhythms of production and consumption’ (Gallagher and Laqueur 1987: intro).