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Body Politics / 257 within which she finds herself and yet who may have travelled to America in pursuit of the "American dream." Such women travel with an imaginary, glamorous America in mind, which has to do with supposed economic and social opportunities, "freedom" (especially from oppressive patriarchal marital traditions) and pleasures of the kind American popular culture images. Realities of life in America often fail to live up to the imaginary, so some internal negotiation has to take place. Implicit in the discourses just noted is the mythic nation construct, discussed in chapter 2, which science so easily conjures from a white patriarchal position. In chapter 8, I explored Julie Dash's vision of a Hollywood that, like science, relies upon a mythic nation construct that marginalizes women and non-white peoples! and that views itself as expanding and defending America's national resources+ It's not hard to see that Hollywood also marginalizes aging and mutilated people. It is important for what follows to repeat that implicit in formulations of science, nation and Hollywood are ideas of the "normative" gendered body. Assumed "norms" for health (physical and mental) are in fact specifically western, as I hope to show. In order to explore the impact of these parallel marginalizations (non-white/the aged/mutilated) on women, and the implications of their linked (but varied) difference from the dominant white/youth norms, I look at four films by independent women directors. In Pam Tom's Two Lies, I focus on the story of bodily self-fashioning by a Chinese woman to correct "hidden" eyelids (even this phrasing suggests the western eyelid as the norm); in Yvonne Rainer's Privilege, I focus on words of black and white women interviewed in the film to tease out underlying conceptions of selves struggling against prevailing norms of "age as decline" in the context of racism and class privilege; I explore Ngozi Onwurah's powerful short film about the impact of a white working-class mother's mastectomy on her beautiful mixed-race daughter; and finally, I see how Pratibha Parmar manages to undercut the pathologizing gaze at Asian lesbians and gay people. In earlier chapters, I've shown that, as a result of not being included in the category nation, women have traditionally worked these relations through via the cultural sphere. Culturally "between nations,"
Body Politics: Menopause, Mastectomy and Cosmetic Surgery in Films by Rainer, Tom and Onwurah
A man's as old as he feels A woman as old as she looks,
+Mortimer Collins (ca. 1850)
A man has every season while a woman only has the right to spring. That disgusts me. -Jane Fonda
crumbling scaffold riddled with osteoporosis probably is not an ideal one to go through nine months of pregnancy. -Dr. Healey
Earlier chapters of this book have discussed marginalizations and stereotyping of American minorities in dominant Hollywood cinema. Important for my purposes in this chapter (and much less studied) is that both aging and minority women may turn to bodily self-fashioning in order to avoid the marginalizing that being ethnically Other or an aging female may bring in American culture. Issues are exacerbated in the case of the diasporan female in the United States, who may have little sense of belonging to the actual national community
in turn. something unexpected emerged: both the occidental eye and the aged eye were categorized as having the same "fault" in relation to the western caucasian standard being used to judge eyes. issues linked to those of "passing" (which normally refers to black people trying to "pass" as white) emerge: Cosmetic surgery either to "correct" eyelids or other parts of the face or body. The intense needs of many women to please and to belong make conflict inevitable. a good rule of thumb is that the upper face. 214-217. he notes that "Yellow cheeks. Blair O. dealt with the philosophical and political issues at stake (Spitzack 1988. Rogers begins his brief "History of the Development of Aesthetic Surgery" with a quotation from Henry IV in which. not incidentally it seems. to say that these "are easily removed by modern aesthetic operations" (Rogers 1984. pendulous abdomens-the despised signs of aging-form an unwelcome contrast to the smooth physiognomy of youth.! In both cases. Non-white and aged women both offend white culture because for different reasons they are not able to conform to the ideal standard for what counts as beautiful in dominant culture.6 Yet in one sense every Hollywood film is an advertisement for cosmetics and cosmetic surgery through the larger than life close-ups of flawless women's ." In the course of researching medical handbooks on cosmetic surgery and looking for information about such surgery in non-white patients. may be seen as attempts to pass for a caucasian woman or for a younger woman. Siegel. 37-46). in his Aesthetic Plastic Surgery: Principles and Techniques. he says. I / "Although marked by some degree of variability.. or (usually women) in stories about traumatic accidents (A Woman's Face ). chapter 8). or to "correct" wrinkles. Friedan 1993. For Richard J. Balsamo 1993). against the "decline" and "deterioration" that are the main ways of conceptualizing aging in the West.". Body Politics I 259 women are pushed and pulled by diverging sets of cultural/personal loyalties (viz Mississippi Masala.5 Rogers accepts apparently uncritically that the use of the youthful caucasian as the standard of aesthetic value will mean that all other positions will be measured from that one standard. as the panacea against aging-that is.. few Hollywood films have made stories explicitly about cosmetic surgery-except as it figures in crime genres when people (usually men) seek facial disguise (see Dark Passage  or Let 'Em Have It ). middle face and lower face each occupy approximately one third of total face height. double chins. 37-52.258 I Looking for the Other . 2) Cosmetics and cosmetic surgery have been exposed by feminists as enabling the business and medical establishments to make large profits out of women's vulnerabilities (Chapkis 1986. lines and sagging skin. significantly. in addition. Feminists have." But he continues." (Bartlett et aI. Shakespeare "described all too accurately for posterity those bodily changes that daily bring the suffering patient to the office of modern aesthetic surgeons. Balsamo 1993.3). Interestingly. These needs. while of course cosmetics and surgery have been promoted in popular women's journals and magazines. Significantly. His description of what happens to the eyelid over the course of life strangely prefigures what he will say about the Oriental eye. the "aging" and the Oriental are combined as the markers of "deformity" and "pathology" concerning the aesthetic of the eyelids. may render diasporan women especially vulnerable to the desire to normalize their appearances-a desire that also affects older white wornen. the eye seems to be the crucial location for producing and maintaining both cultural/ ethnic and young/old difference." Summarizing the quotation. and on television cable stations. Meanwhile.
Mei Lin's a book on plastic surgery in non-white patients. The repressed wish to also have her eyes cut. The Lacanian cutting of the mother-daughter dyad. as it were. given the family's living in the United States and the children attending American schools? This is a choice Doris had doubts about. The science discourse assumes a politics of assimilation (i. Mei uses language. the mother (Doris's) plastic eye surgery and the issues of ethnic identity (linked to issues of nation)? it raises for Doris' daughter. tries to keep her child down with her in the imaginary. For the daughter to become a subject. and her sister. and fascination with." The heady mixture of exotica without knowledge of origins outrages Mei. offers one level on which the literal cutting of the body reverberates. Edward Said's Orientalism may be seen enacted (and possibly deliberately referenced by the filmmaker). precisely to release herself from the imaginary mother. becoming known downtown as "China Doll. for Mei. her mother's mature sexuality. the politics of cosmetic eye surgery (cutting the body) is approached through mother-daughter symbiosis or double identification. then. as in the comments of the men Doris dates. and Onwurah's Body Beautiful contrasting a mutilated mother's body with her mixed-race daughter's stunning body address the pressures on minority and aging women to conform to the white youthful Hollywood ideal within complex narratives that also deal with racism and class. Mei Lin. used to dress in a kimono and coolie hat. cut herself free. At appropriate moments during the film. I'll argue that the film turns on this binary between assimilation and authenticity. Doris' "two eyes" are "two lies. as seen in her comment "I should have kept you in Chinese school where you would have learned respect"). are seen preoccupied with their projects: Esther's is always that of building an Indian pueblo (her current school assignment). Portia. given her ambivalent relationship to Doris. These huge close-ups re-enforce the imaginary ideal in every female spectator who longs to look like these celluloid women. Esther. Pam Tom's Two Lies (1989) about a Chinese mother who opts for plastic surgery to "correct" her hidden eyelids. But the ideology of the assumed normative western face-and the plastic surgeons' assumptions about what beauty in a face is-must be as clear to the daughter in her reading of the plastic surgery book as it was to me. I use Mei Lin's concern with Doris' eye surgery to correct her hidden eyelids to move out from the film to look more closely at the science discourse Mei Lin turns to in order to understand what is being done to her mother's body. That Mei Lin is working with a politics of authenticity is perhaps most explicit in the visit to the American Indian pueblo. and takes further umbrage when she learns that the wife. In the immigrant context of Tom's film.e. she must reject her mother. perfect hair. and enter the symbolic-particularly since this mother. She is disgusted to discover the inauthenticity of the pueblo (it being only a house constructed by a man from Boston for his crazy wife). narration. namely.. Mei Lin. Mei Lin by trying to learn what was done to her mother's eyes as a way of dealing with her uncertainty about her idea of herself-of how she looks-that her mother's surgery has produced. is obvious in the scene at a swimming pool in the motel that . Yvonne Rainer's Privilege (1990) about women's reactions to and experiences of menopause. the politics of diasporan groups wanting quickly to become Americanized) that in turn produces for Mei Lin its binary (opposing) discourse of authenticity. with perfect skin. Mei has both fear and fascination regarding her mother's change. suggest the two daughters' different ways of coping with being "different"-Esther by identifying with another oppressed minority. which it (possibly) problematizes even if it is unable to move beyond.260 / Looking for the Other Body Politics / 261 faces. Films dealing with cosmetic surgery and menopause realistically. like many. constantly juxtaposed in the same image." presumably because the change makes them not authentically Chinese any more. Within the many complex issues in Pam Tom's Two Lies I will here address just one. perfect features. and here. The two projects. Yet Mei herself seems very much part of a process of assimilation along with her mother (how can it be otherwise. and from female perspectives will not be financed by Hollywood and so must be made independently. Mei at once over identifies with her mother in relation to the surgery (viz her obsession with the plastic surgery book) and rejects her mother for changing herself. Yet. together with Mei Lin's fear of.
since it provides information about past discourses as they influence and determine current ones. in the repetition in the motel of the scene in the family's flat. a white woman. I wanted to explore its assumption of the desire of non-white Americans to assimilate to the American bodily norm. Mei Lin has contradictory responses to. and how far a white norm was assumed. It is a way of gaining some authority in a situation where one has very little or none." The book the film features has a chapter on plastic surgery in non-white patients. even if still in the patronizing. I decided to see how far plastic surgery books. Maltz turns to anthropology very much in the Clifford Geertz mode critiqued by Trinh and others. to look at plastic surgery discourse to explore how far that discourse does make assumptions about eye shape. assuming that hermother is trying to assimilate or get "the American look"-an idea that. Here Mei Lin pores through plastic surgery volumes while Connie Chung's image is on the TV. Maltz is familiar with Adler's social theories about the results of undesirable pressures on people to conform (the "assimilation" discourse. and she is not in a position to take note of such issues. It is following this episode. since the film's perspective remains close to Mei's consciousness. I began with a 1936 book on plastic surgery by Maxwell Maltz. In the chapter on the mouth. presumably so as to know more about what has happened to her mother. since Maltz situates each kind of cosmetic surgery in its historical context. In a tone that recalls Hollywood scenes studied in chapter 3. as in her hostile rejecting comment to her mother. ." In addition. In this scene. both Mei Lin and Esther are rejected because of their Chinese features: Mei Lin is passed over for another. "To Americans. but that's all we know. as we've seen. History of cosmetic surgery is important. Two Lies (1989): The film suggests the power of media images through the example ethnic media stars may exert on women from the same groups. as well as enabling insight into how current discourses depart from past ones for cultural/social reasons. articles or manuals paid attention to cultural difference. Indeed. colonialist nineteenth-century manner. as it will be in Rainer's film. However. two lies. and relate to. Maltz's book shows his broad liberal learning. "Two eyes. her mother's operation. This is a common way that science is turned to when people have to undergo surgery or a loved one has such surgery." implying that her operation is making her "unauthentic. beauty and an American look. I thought it made sense to move out from the film. The authority of science is not commented upon in this text. she does object deeply to the surgery. Mei Lin also has to hear her mother's flirting while not being able to attract anyone to herself. while Esther's eyes and language are ridiculed by the little girl who mimics her in a derogatory way. The film inserts discourses about surgery directly in repeated scenes where the spectator is shown close-ups of pictures-in all their ugly details of the required cuts-in the book on plastic surgery that Mei is reading. that some extended attention is paid to the plastic surgery book that Mei turns to. briefly. and found that it briefly alludes to issues of race." he says.262 / Looking for the Other Body Politics / 263 the family stop at on their way to the Indian pueblo. as we saw in chapter 7 and elsewhere. again)." or reneging on her Chinese heritage in order to get the American look. Maltz notes the cultural context of standards of beauty. It is a way of gaining some control over what is going on in the face of feeling powerless. instead of a historical prelude. science discourse is inserted in the film in the role of providing information for Mei Lin as she seeks to understand. As noted.
would consider the lips of the tribesmen of remote Kyra Be. We.. whose Races of Man: An Outline of Anthropology and Ethnography appeared in 1901. Throughout the article. As noted at the start of my discussion. muscle and/or fat in order to produce a "fold" in the eyelid-in his Aesthetic Plastic Surgery: Principles and Techniques. Wornom and Whitaker 1991. by permanent waves. G. seek to correct straight hair. Our research into plastic surgery discourses by western medical establishments showed that same construct.. Maltz's discourses also recall those of J. such texts construct a discourse of assimilation-the other side of the politics of authenticity. in order to cater to such fears and desires of Asian women. quite heavy and pendulous." relies heavily on work done by L. 80-1) Macgregor goes on to discuss cosmetic rhinoplasty to reshape noses that have symbolic significance." cannot help but evoke complex. for instance. Deniker. who live on the Bahr Keita River. the authors proceed to "formulate a system of aesthetic facial form analysis. Maltz discusses the ways in which Mayan women press their babies' heads in boards so as to produce the elongated shape the Mayans consider beautiful. 12 It is difficult to separate these discourses from early anthropological ones about the "races" of "mankind" (legacies of 1920s and 1930s . Siegel's "Advanced Blepharoplasty"-this latter word meaning the removal of excess skin. Transformation and Identity: The Faceand Plastic Surgery. In the case of immigrant and minority groups in the USA both methods have been employed to aid assimilation and adjust to dominant culture. Munro and J.10 But contemporary books on cosmetic surgery and the medical handbooks ignore issues of cultural difference altogether. The most obvious case is Richard J. But the natives have quite a different standard of lip beauty" (Maltz 1936. I. (Macgregor 1984. the drawings are of white faces with blonde hair. The text is accompanied by an extraordinary photo of women with these lips. The use of the youthful caucasian as the standard of aesthetic value means that all other positions will be measured from that one standard. in Bangassou. for insight these types of behaviour may provide into . assimilation.. 57). Steps are taken to reduce "differentness" by disguising traits that in an Anglo American society are familiar clues to group identity. For example . with the caption "Lips of savages in remote Kyra Be (Africa). He attributes this to "the heavy pressure that society brings to bear on its members to conform to 'the American look'" (81). and lower face) separately with regard to both form and symmetry and to relate the sum of the parts to the whole" (2). He claims that a frequent stated motivation for surgery is to obtain the "American look. the "aging" and the Oriental are combined as the markers of "deformity" and "pathology" concerning the aesthetic of the eyelids: he describes the Oriental eye in the same terms he has used for changes in the eyelid over the life course. but standards of comeliness vary with geography. Without rehearsing the arguments for the clinical plastic surgeons being addressed in the handbook. In another part of the book.11 Implicitly. Farkos. Nowhere in the materials does the reader find the voices of the women themselves. identification and conformity.. Negroes have long used skin-whiteners and hair straighteners whereas American Indian and Asian women. mid-face. for Siegel." noting that Reducing visibility by changing names or by altering physical appearance for the purpose of eliminating characteristics that set one apart from others is of particular interest . as I showed) recalls discussions of Warrior Marks in chapter 6 and is complicated. This nineteenth-century-style anthropological reflection upon different beauty standards (on which especially 1930s Hollywood films modelled their images." The photo. even negative. In a recent handbook. This construction is made explicit in Frances Macgregor's 1984 book. Africa. They note that "The key to facial form analysis lies in the ability to analyze each region (upper face.. Kolar on "The Validity of Neo-Classical Facial Proportion Canons" (in Farkos 1987. for instance. while pretending to be "factual. articulating their wishes and desires. stereotypes.. and a drawing of a caucasian face with the ideal proportions accompanies the text. the section on "Evaluation of Facial Skeletal Aesthetics and Surgical Planning.264 / Looking for the Other Body Politics / 265 "a protruding lip does not seem beautiful. 1). responses in the exaggeration of the case that Maltz has chosen. 26)." in which "recognition of what constitutes a 'normal face' is paramount" (Bartlett.
l" Our research found that most Eurocentric authors characterize Asians seeking aesthetic eye surgery as pursuing "occidentalization" or "westernization. The term "plastic surgery" comes from the Greek word for plastic. Du Bois. La Chirurgie Esthetique: Son Role Social. European women keep quiet about cosmetic surgery and about their desire to stay young (Rogers 1971). discourse. 5). so the norms should be opened out-something that seems only to happen in the United States with great difficulty. while European males are not." with discrepancy between inner "research" as noted above in J. As a culture changes with new immigrants. Yoshio Hiraga and Seiichi Ohmori suggest that a particular form of non-western beauty is being sought. Khou Boo-Chai described creating an eyelid crease with an upper lid blepharoplasty (Putterman 1993. hooks or Appadurai (all of whom I cited in chapter 1) may believe they empathize with the situations each explores. as already indicated and as developed below. And the concept of a youthful look as most desirable is not new. an old lady! Mama. Nevertheless. Passot even advocated "mini-lifts" (similar to today's face-lifts) for young women before their skin had "totally collapsed. namely "to fashion the double eyelids of the ideal oriental beauty" (R. Pam Tom's film. The lack of awareness of the cultural specificity of these "norms" in medical handbooks. "The Double Eyelid" in a rare book devoted to The Unfavorable Result in Plastic Surgery. since the pressures on non-European women are heavy. In an essay. however. and an eyelid with a crease. an early French female plastic surgeon named Nod continued Passot's work and wrote up case histories in her 1926 volume. A bit later.37-52). That is. Dr. see the old lady! I'm frightened!" Perhaps white people reading Fanon. as well as the example that ethnic media stars may exert on women from the same groups-viz. revision or westernization' of Oriental eyelids. if repressed. indeed. as I noted earlier. and their obvious Eurocentrism (as in the Siegel volume discussed earlier) troubles me. the shots where we see behind the daughters a TV set with anchor woman Connie Chung. understated manner. be especially vulnerable to the symbolism of the perfect caucasian body-a body touted in ads and in the media as truly American. R. But.l" Evidently. with an assumption that the white race is the "superior" one. 1984. The idea that women in diaspora may well have their own reasons for undergoing plastic surgery is something mainstream western science is too arrogant to consider.266 / Looking for the Other Body Politics / 267 recently. it is etymologically linked to plastic art and to forms associated with sculpture (Gabka and Vaubel1983. how many whites have experienced a similar "look. an eyelid that has no crease is termed a single eyelid. however. "Look. Gabka and Ekkehard Vaubel note. "plassein. whose eye surgery was much discussed by journalists as linked to assimilation and her desire to be desirable in white terms (see also Chapkis 1986. American males are anxious for their women to have this surgery. and its notion of Renaissance (and Greek derived) aesthetic form." Patients' motivations are seen as a desire for movement toward the West rather than a pursuit of a conception of beauty specific to another culture. plastic surgeons use the white caucasian race. in the film. Nod disputes a comment I made earlier about the apparent greater lack of self-confidence among American women in their open pursuit of cosmetic surgery. 201-8). 465-504). not the fact that for a given culture certain norms prevail for historical and other reasons. Don Liu urged surgeons to avoid "using terms such as 'correction. The idea for correcting the "Oriental" eyelid became acceptable when Dr. as J. suggests the power of media images." and notes that "In the Orient. The case for the latter motivation appeared in essays where authors were familiar with non-western thinking. Goldwyn. G. in its usual economic. Deniker's The Races of Man [1901J discussed in footnote 10). as the standard for what a "beautiful" face is.P Pressures on aging women to conform to the white youthful standard are also severe." because this would stimulate the morale of the patient. Raymond Passot." so that. vii)_13 Given this remaining. Thus. published articles illustrating a complete procedure for a "mini" face lift as early as 1919. some immigrants may. a Parisian surgeon. a double eyelid" (Liu 1992. More . ed. Pan reported on a Far Eastern method of forming an upper-lid fold with suprastarsal fixation. Dr. women may rationalize as fitting their own cultural norms to what are in fact western ideals. Nod notes that the difference is rather in the French and American males.
Let me say something brief about Hollywood images of aging so as to make clear the crucial feminist contribution of Rainer's film." pathological. Gladys Young in King Vidor's Stella Dallas . Commercial films about menopausal women? Inconceivable. despite the changes that feminism(s) has managed to produce regarding other kinds of female stereotypes. herself looking not a II ! Privilege (1990): The white heroine's unconscious racism is exposed by Digna. Older women have traditionally only figured in Hollywood as "witches" in melodramas about mothers and daughters (e. Betty Davis in Little Faxes ). continued with Driving Miss Daisy (1990)." on the part of the medical establishment. The trend began with the success of On Golden Pond (1983). and moved onto focus on men with Grumpy Old Men (1993). It is remarkable that concepts of menopausal women have somehow remained unchanged in the cultural unconscious. chair-ridden and beshawled in Griffith's Way Down East. inner identifications and response from the Other to outer bodily manifestations? Responses that somehow do not correspond to the inner self? In her 1990 film Privilege. and involved famous male actors as well. while Grumpy Old Men. even though her daughter is only about 16 years old!). but is "invisible" to them. older women have traditionally been relegated to the fringes of classical narratives (viz Lillian Gish's mother. Rainer links the blindness of whites to their privilege as white (referring explicitly to Fanon's work on black self-alienation in white supremacy)." An analogous sign of the cultural unconscious about menopausal women in America is the anathema of Hollywood (and of most popular culture) toward the subject. with the negativity toward postmenopausal women-especially their definition as "diseased. Deliberately. needing to be "cured.g. who accompanies Jenny and her boyfriend Robert on their trips. old age became a sentimental theme in a few commercial films in the 1980s and 1990s.V While I do not want to collapse different contexts for such an Other gaze-produced self-alienation. How is it that biological concepts regarding women's no longer menstruating at a certain point-concepts perhaps fitted to a much earlier phase of human society-are still active today? One has only to recall the horror at a British menopausal woman managing to conceive and give birth thanks to new birth technologies to glimpse the depth of stereotypes about woman and her "change of life. starring two famous male actors (Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau) develops into the story of how "old men" can indeed still be sexy. Just as Tom's film began to open up issues regarding cosmetic surgery in non-European women. almost. I cite the case of aging white women as analogous in order to open out issues of objectification and self-alienation to groups not necessarily seen as casualties of the "look" before. so Yvonne . imaged as white-haired. i self-construct.268 / Looking for the Other Body Politics / 269 Rainer's Privilege opens up the stereotypes of aging women and the pervasive paradigms about aging.. Given that America's population is aging and creating a potential audience for films about old people. Like minorities. Jack Lemmon is rejuvenated by making love to Ann-Margret (who wouldn't be?). Digna talks directly to the spectator. Here. But the first two films were carried by the superb acting and long-standing fame of the female stars (Katherine Hepburn and Jessica Tandy). Yvonne Rainer begins to explore such inner/outer discrepancies for whites in relation to post-menopausal women.
As Jean Kozlowski points out. Two recent mother-daughter films starring Shirley MacLaine. who is undergoing drug rehabilitation. even if they are unable to move Postcards from the Edge (1990): Shirley MacLaine. as will be clear below. evil or jealous. . day older than 40.270 / Looking for the Other 1 t} Body Politics / 271 I . the film provides images of a sexual older women. on the other. Terms of Endearment (1983) and Postcards from the Edge (1990). but the cinema cries out not only for new images but for making menopause visible in the first place. prove their virility by carrying on a long-standing feud that erupts daily over ordinary events. significantly. Terms of Endearment confronts the so-called "empty nest" syndrome of menopausal women and the frequent overdependence of older mothers on their married daughters. as usual. Within this discourse. The film. In Kozlowski's words. but. makes herself the center of attention while ostensibly helping her daughter (played by Meryl Streep). then. while women stars are summarily dismissed from sexy roles on the screen after menopause. sporting the phallic fish. ! beyond the binaries just noted. has no category for women between sexy youth or young motherhood. 8). on the one hand. Debbie Reynolds. loosely based on Carrie Fisher's competition with her mother. not evil. Popular culture. It gets earnest when they have to compete for Ann-Margret's sexual favors. bitter. Kozlowski perhaps fails to recognize the limited advance that MacLaine's films represent. In her justified rage at the double standard for male and female stars. Postcards from the Edge (1990) addresses issues of aging. Postcards shows the difficulty with which the narcissistic. mother (played by Shirley MacLaine) recognizes that she is aging and losing her beauty- Grumpy Old Men (1993): Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon." represented as tired. assumes that older women should cede the ground to the younger. And in having Shirley Maclaine meet Jack Nicholson and strike up a romance. do begin to at least address issues of aging women. and "old aged women. though not entirely successfully. even if only within the terms of dominant discourses. The realities of menopause for women vary like anything else. and invisible in the second. male stars' sexiness "can be stretched into a fantasy of ageless sexual potency" (Kozlowski 1993. "Movies tend to give us only an abrupt shove from cute ingenue to weird old crone" (6). In turn.
"Face it girls. where she finds romance and a new life. seeing their horrified faces declares. I'm older and I got more insurance. In Fried Green Tomatoes. This "last straw" episode confirms her decision to take off with a friend to a Greek island. The scene in the hospital after MacLaine's accident captures Streep's growing ability to help her mother through this stage of life: Streep finds her mother looking weary and plain without her wig and make-up. The rare films that provide satisfying glimpses of menopausal women who survive aging without turning to men or by working through unsatisfying dependence on men (e. But it is left to the independent sphere and to a film like Rainer's Privilege (1990) to actually critique prevailing stereotypes of menopausal and aging women. the male discourse of women's aging as "decline" and uselessness. learns how to deal with menopause.272 / Looking for the Other Body Politics / 273 that it is time to cede the center stage to her daughter. somewhat rebellious self by staying on a Greek island with a woman friend. and to explore women's self-images and conflicts about aging.. In one inspiring scene. Evelyn. Rainer's film takes up many complex issues. self-deprecation and a sexless marriage through the inspiring story that Ninny tells about two brave young women struggling for autonomy from abusive men. I initially wished to disentangle just the main thread relating to menopause. Fried Green Tomatoes and Shirley Valentine) only prove the hunger for such images. Evelyn deliberately bangs into their spunky sports car. as these do. one might say) that it was nearly ." There is a need for films that actually confront. she pulls out her cosmetics and gradually reconstructs MacLaine's image for her so that she can go out and face the reporters. Ninny Thread-Goode in a nursing home. the heroine in the framing story who Fried Green Tomatoes (1991): Jessica Tandy as Ninny Threadgoode inspires menopausal Evelyn Couch (played by Kathy Bates) to struggle for autonomy from a domineering husband and to take care of herself. the more I tried to do this. interweaving them with the main story about menopause to create a rich tapestry of interlinked perspectives and problems. the more I found that this thread was so closely interwoven with others (that is Rainer's triumph. and.g. when pushed out of a parking space by two young flashy women. befriends an 80-year-old woman. the film is about learning to empathize with her mother's aging difficulties and her need to be the center of attention. Shirley Valentine: Menopausal Pauline Collins finally confronts her tyrannical husband (Bernard Hill) who is furious because she altered the weekly menu for their evening meal. However. Shirley Valentine traces the evolution of the heroine from an abused menopausal wife in a stifling British lower-middle-class environment to a woman who finds autonomy and rediscovers her youthful. From the daughter's (played by Meryl Streep) perspective.
and juxtaposing the way race and aging are both marginalized in a society dominated by hysteria about youth and whiteness-as was clear in the cosmetic surgery discourse noted above. 397). authority and control reverses in one image prior Hollywood stereotypes of passive. Jenny is heard declaring her inability to "get used to our screwed up morality that denies middle-aged women the right to be beautiful. Rainer inserts clips of Hollywood films and alternates among the clear 16mm color image. or what has been called a kind of catharsis. invisible. "wags a finger at my belly-aching: 'Jenny. then. and bodies and voices are jumbled Brechtian style so as to provoke the spectator out of her would-be cinematic "spell" into the shock of recognition. it felt traumatic. Sometimes. Later on. deliberately displacing image/body and sound so as to refuse assigning any easy essentialism to menopausal women while at the same time invalidating dominating discourses.274 / Looking for the Other Body Politics / 275 impossible to separate it out. defective and need changing" (MacDonald 1995. The women Rainer interviews regularly mention change in physical appearance as central to the experience of aging and something that. Privilege explores menopausal subjectivities from a variety of positions. 300). documentary-style interviews mix with fictional modes. . Jenny talks half jokingly. given prevailing cultural norms of the young white female as the standard for how all women should look. even if she's not sure which part exactly she mourns the most. She concludes that "the medics try to fix us with hysterectomies and hormone replacement therapy so we'll stay feminine forever." there is an extended and repeated flashback. and of witchlike. She also talks of mourning for that young self. takes over from the film persona "Yvonne Rainer" (YR). evil or "declining" menopausal women. who. like Friedan's 1993 book. as against her present menopausal self. which YW provokes in Jenny (who "stands in" for Rainer and one version of some events in Rainer's past). In order to dramatize the male perspective that is at stake." in which her cinematic persona also interviews women about menopause. Rainer intercuts citations of other women. Minnette Lehmann. While Rainer's film. infantilized black women." whom she prefers to tell YW about. advertizing and the media. the film contributes to discussions of biases against menopausal women in popular journalism. Rainer turns off the sound of an interviewee's voice and inserts sounds from overlapping scenes. still seeking "testosterone" (which the interviewer points out women also produce and do not lose with menopause). loving. Jenny realizes how much she is dwelling on changes in her body. as it were. But the main way Rainer complicates and deepens her story about menopause is the strategy of a film-within-a-film. includes interviews with menopausal women about the experience itself. that our bodies are. Rainer slows down Jenny's voice so that it sounds male. Meanwhile. Jenny describes her menopausal shock of realizing that being desired by men was "the lynch pin of her identity. often. we hear. talking about feminism in 1986." so that when men no longer desired her. a black filmmaker doing a documentary about menopause. This image of a menopausal black woman with agency. and there is also a prolonged monologue by filmpersona "Rainer" which accompanies a close-up image of her on screen. Other "displacements" from the usual menopausal narrative include exploring menopause in white and black women. as Jenny imagines herself. and idealized by men" (MacDonald 1995. YW's film is framed by YR's "film. It is YW's interviews that provide the main focus of the film. talks about still feeling sexual. Jenny. like Helen Caldicott. Within this "documentary. disrupting the documentary interview. by definition. and liking to be in a room full of men and women where sex is everywhere. In addition." Rainer intercuts statistics about hysterectomies on the word-processor screen. all you're doing is confirming what men already think. A bit later. This mixture of kinds of footage reminds the spectator that she is watching a film and prevents any "expensive illusionism. Fundamentally. they have to struggle against or come to terms with. she intercuts within a sequence an image of her protagonist. The good feminist in Jenny. accompanying found footage of a 1950s teen movie. Rainer invents an Yvonne Washington (YW). half seriously about her "luscious youthful self. Rainer follows a less traditional narrative format as befits her film style: recitation is combined with reenactment of subjects' remembered past events. black and white film and over-colored video." as Jenny scornfully calls it when questioned about her image being the same in her "hot flashback" as in her present-time interview. and as implied in Tom's film. Another menopausal woman.
l'' Their discourse shows an unabashed male bias in the obvious concern for the husbands of menopausal women.Jenny describes different meetings with doctors. she began to savor her new freedom. just as Tom had linked racism and plastic surgery. Some privileged career women are able to slough off regret for the ideal white young standard. who prescribe first a hysterectomy. Now menopausal. and the fact the menopause meant that she was "off the hook" in many ways.l? Why this story usually omits minority women is a good question: is it that their marginalization is already so much a fact that the further marginalization of menopause cannot matter? Or is it that black women's marginalization is such that women writing about menopause usually forget the specificity of minority womenr-" Rainer's film provokes these important questions in its very title. white-coated doctor's pronouncements about menopausal women with Jenny telling her thoughts and feelings as she sought medical help for her menopausal symptoms. like Tom. Rainer ironically juxtaposes an image of one doctor saying how emotionally stressed menopausal women are with Jenny's voice-off account of how annoyed her doctors got at her questions! An African American menopausal woman also reports the same lack of sympathy and patience from her doctors. one assumes she means in relation to attracting men. breaks new ground. omission of any mention of middle-aged men's sexual decline (as Jenny does not fail to point out). which reverberates throughout the film. One notes that after a period of memory of her girlhood and young womanhood. but the women who have been through it describe a far more stable emotional lifesomething the doctors do not mention. marriage and children. Although she is not pushed to say more. and goes on to fnd Jenny fnally willing to talk about her menopause with I Body Politics / 277 YW. They do not try to find out what their desires might be. who are not willing to answer her questions or inform her about future impacts of drugs. sexual desirability. She notes the importance of these male doctors not having gone through and thus not really caring about the menopausal experience. perspectives. In doing this. her fear that naming her age will evoke negative preconceptions. like those on plastic surgery. Fascinating in light of Tom's film is how Rainer links menopause and racism. agency. For instance. having to compete with other women around attractiveness. when she refuses to tell the interviewer her age. The doctors are barely civil." Rainer exposes the white/youthful privilege of her heroine. as Rainer intercuts her experience with more clips of doctors pronouncing about menopausal women.276 / Looking for the Other This woman betrays her fear of aging. instead. The authority of science discourse about menopause is deliberately featured in the film and is thoroughly critiqued through judicious editing. in ironically following out an association between the "hot flashes" of menopause and the cinematic "flashback. The whole sequence is prefaced by a series of more short declarations about menopausal women by different male doctors in clips from medical documentaries. and inattention to menopausal women's desires. Jenny. seeking sex. The doctors pronounce about menopausal women. Inter-titles. Jenny continues her story of her meetings with doctors. All these comments show the real concern about continuing attractiveness and lapsing from the "ideal" (white) standard. effects and cures for menopause. Both doctors and the women agree on symptoms of immediate menopause. but become strangely of no interest once she's menopausal. Jenny has lost her white privilege because of aging. in the 1960s. Rainer. do not deal with minority women to any great degree. she notes. Rainer has assembled clips from 1960s medical documentaries in which white male doctors (and an occasional male-identified female one) pronounce authoritatively on the symptoms. and then estrogen replacement therapy. and. proceeds with the section of interview with Minnette noted above. Rainer was ahead of things in Privilege. and she refuses their prescriptions. The way in which Rainer exposes the largely (but not exclusively) male doctors is extremely effective. tell us that the woman's sexuality and desires were of great interest to friends and family as long as she was seeking a man. in contrast to her oppressed black and Latin American neighbors. to talk with the husbands! While feminists have begun to discuss male medical discourse recently. in general. As . but do not let them speak.especially in the scene where she intercuts the whitehaired. since most books on menopause. turning. Privilege. meanwhile.
YW provides political and economic reasons for racism. in one of her essays. Digna generously decides to look after Jenny and try to educate her-and the spectator. Included here is a reflection about a woman's experience at a conference in EI Paso. it includes exposure of the racism her lower East Side friends endured in the early 1960s. ethnicity and aging become more clear. Adorned in the garish Hollywood idea of Latin American dress. too. Mexico: the woman had earlier been disabused of her impression that a sexual liaison was starting . " (MacDonald 1995. The climax of the ongoing.. shit. This section. It serves to highlight both parallels and differences between the oppressions and marginalizations of menopausal women and those of minorities and gay/lesbians.. simplicity.. makes an alliance with Carlos via the common enemy of the white man: "Our blackness. "Look. the dualities and ambiguities of privilege in relation to class. and to articulate her needs and losses: "So what do I do now that the men have stopped looking at me? I'm like a fish thrown back into the sea . It is only towards the end of the film. and her own complicity in unconscious racism. Indeed. Towards the end of the film. is presented by Digna. Robert. Digna dresses as the Hollywood Carmen Miranda. The section continues with a groundbreaking sequence in which YW confronts Jenny's racism and critiques her story in which Brenda. fore grounding one of Hollywood's most outrageous Latin American stereotypes." intermixed with the white woman's unconscious racism. "the psyche itself is the product of external forces. 310)." could be provoked when a gay couple-taking the same prerogative as do heterosexual onesshow public affection. and comments on Jenny's inability to see her. and blood dictate the moves of white men.. Following the film noir rape section. which Jenny soon enters. Digna knows that Jenny is unable to see her-that she is simply invisible to Jenny because she's Puerto Rican-and proves this by accompanying Jenny. The main sequence that explores these difficult issues follows that noted above about the marginalization and humiliation of menopausal women. accompanying "race story" deals with the complicated sexual relations between black men and white women. 47). From her oppressed position. Digna sits in Robert's plush car. femaleness." This important observation is exemplified in the following sequence where a new "class story. In a wonderful scene. while Jenny is attracted to the more psychoanalytic theories because they have the comfort of clarity." she says. and the intercutting of Jenny's experience and agency with menopausal women's invisibility to male doctors.. Digna shows her excellent understanding of Jenny's white liberal politics. For the pathologizing of the lesbian is a subtheme in Privilege. which includes blindness to issues of race and class. after revisiting her 1960s young womanhood. It's hard to admit that I still want them to look .. While it is easier to mask sexual orientation than skin color or aging.316-17). but also between black men and specifically lesbian women. Carlos' wife in Jenny's "hot flashback" story. Rainer notes as much: "But then. the spectator is given some "quotidian fragments" about race." YW resists Jenny's story being about the conditioning of white people in the West because it doesn't explain how it all started. and YW further is angered by how "white women always manage to use their own victim status as a way of pleading innocent to the charge of racism. filmed as film noir-with a deliberate play on the word "noir" which links blackness and the evil part of human nature noir film brings to the surface-includes extended quotations from Frantz Fanon and Eldridge Cleaver. The white menopausal women wanting still to be desired by men is problematized by the juxtaposed discourse of black on white rape. on her trips with her new boyfriend. Mama! Lesbians! I'm disgusted. that Jenny begins to get a glimpse of the realities she lives within. invisible to the lovers. although who is speaking is deliberately left unclear. in the process. Digna sees Jenny precisely for who and what she is..278 / Looking for the Other Body Politics / 279 she tells her story. For YW. I knew I was into a whole new ball-game and that my previous wordplay had been a charade keeping me from acknowledging that-however dormant my sex drive had been-I had been living in the safehouse of heterosexuality" (Rainer 1991. the attorney in the case against Carlos in which Jenny was involved. a lesbian. "the first time I kissed my female lover on the street. My biggest shock in reaching middle age was the realization that men's desire for me was the linch pin of my identity" (MacDonald 1995. like history and economics .
Madge's towel slips to reveal the startling absence of the breast. working-class. she realizes she is on two different sides of two frontiers: Economically. having passed the frontier of attractiveness to men. suffering both from arthritis and her mastectomy. the specificity of race within both the discourse and the experience of menopause is not highlighted: indeed. provides an interestingly different slant on issues of bodily selffashioning. and then of her mother's cancer. Rainer examines the parallel "fault" of aging black and white women. "nation" and belonging are worked through via an intense mother-daughter relationship. Reaction formation has impelled the daughter to exploit her beauty. class and race. It is this double-identification that provides the viewer with a powerful experience. Tom's and Rainer's films both address in different ways the common "fault" that minority and aging women are seen to have in dominant western discourses-namely.280 / Looking for the Other Body Politics / 281 Ngozi Onwurah's Body Beautiful (1991). and the more social analysis of the "race story. The mixed-race young woman can find a place in British modelling and advertising because of western Orientalism and how the darker Other is made exotic-traces of the colonialism and imperialism studied in chapter 3 and elsewhere in this book. The film employs a double narration. she is now on the other side of privilege. Two linked scenes have an especially powerful impact: the first is where mother and daughter go to a sauna. namely the paradoxes of the privilege whiteness confers and yet the varying oppressions of all women. And sexually. It results in the child's hatred and scorn of her mother for being weak. Perhaps Rainer intends the disjuncture between interviewees on the individual level. in the white children ridiculing Esther and in the benign but condescending music teacher. exploring the complexities of menopause and ongoing debates about it within dominant medical. exploring conflicts about cosmetic eye surgery through a mother-daughter difference about such surgery. the spectator is invited to share the perspectives of both mother and daughter. The impact on the young daughter first of her Nigerian father not returning from Africa. alternating voice-over of the aging mother and that of her daughter. white and working-class. beautiful and already upwardly mobile as a successful model in Thatcherite Britain+' Ironically. Her mother is marred. Doris' relatively privileged class position is not highlighted. The experience forces the daughter to confront the negative reality of her mother for the first time-to see her as others see her. Rainer manages to suggest some of the main themes in the film. issues to do with the body. the individual experiences of black and white women appear very similar-perhaps because all the women interviewed appear middleclass? Yet the "race" story details the ethnic privilege of white women compared to less advantaged minorities. to get as far away from her mother as possible and to deny both her links back to her and to her racial inheritance. as she is being shown the sprawling shanties of Juarez. her mixed-race daughter is young. is shown to be thoroughly traumatic. Onwurah confronts the pathos of the mother's lonely aging. As the women sit drowsily in the heat. ill and aging. with white culture at the top? . she is on the advantage side." In these few lines. the mother is aging." to reveal that class matters as much as race? Or that individual discourse blinds itself to the social power hierarchy. It is the perspective that the daughter has been struggling with a man when he discusses the lure of younger women. from this dominant perspective. including that of aging women. However. The other women react with disgust and rejection. in this case it is the white woman who is marginalized because of her sagging and aging body and its mutilation through mastectomy. mutilated and ugly. overlooking a third-world (sic) country. and to identify with each in turn. that of deformity or pathology because deviating from the caucasian youthful ideal. from within prevailing stereotypes of the perfect body. Later. made and set in the United Kingdom at about the same time as Homi K. Oppressive white culture in this film is present in the white males' lascivious orientalism vis-a-vis Doris. Tom's film addresses issues from within a Chinese American perspective. In this case. but Mei Lin's resistance to the surgery that might alleviate her mother's alienation-her "fault" vis-a-vis dominant culture-exemplifies identity politics debates ongoing in many minority communities in the United States. In this way." As in Pam Tom's film. feminist and minority communities. which she would not operate on until her fetus was full term. Bhabha was theorizing nation as narration and Stuart Hall was reflecting on Thatcherite politics. we read that: "In the gathering dusk.
" or "falling into pathology models.. and the aging mutilated body it rejects-merged. As Parmar explained in an interview in London. The combination of inter-racial looking and love-making with the white woman being far older than the black man provides images that violate governing codes in several ways at once. Pratibha Parmar. confronts head on the pathologizing of gay women-a pathologizing even more oppressive in the case of Asian lesbians. this is what we think. a new stage in which lesbians need not fall into having to explain. Suddenly. it was about the discoveries that we were making in having these conversations . the daughter is not ready to move beyond the infantile illusion of two distinct mothers-a good and a bad mother-and see the mother whole.. That . Her stance indicated. the model preens herself and prepares herself for the camera's gaze. she argued. Another black British filmmaker. Madge sees a young black man looking with desire at her daughter. I edited out his gaze and just had these two women watching and . explaining to audiences who didn't know much about the communities. Parmar's gentle film Khush was also made in 1991. A remarkable fantasy follows. 1988c. Madge is sleeping naked on a hot day. One other scene needs mentioning before I briefly discuss the film's final scene: this is the scene where the daughter is being gazed at by the photographer's voyeuristic camera in an advertizing shooting session in lovely natural scenery. yet. who in her ordinary coat stands awkwardly on the same spot surrounded by natural beauty. and just left her.. "to see her mother whole"-as both the loving and giving breast and as the hated. Parmar was part of an exciting new moment when black artists were finally being given some recognition by institutions like The British Film Institute and television's Channel Four (see Fusco 1988. Like Onwurah and other black British filmmakers. in Melanie Klein's terms. 10. The camera takes a high-angle point of view down on the two bodiesshowing the black youthful body that culture so desires. and what bodies it marginalizes.. "I just edited him out. in which Madge imagines this young black man making love to her despite her mastectomy. Typically. 'We are the spectators of our own images. intertwined. The daughter's expression shows her inability to move beyond norms. One scene that is repeatedly returned to involves two Asian women in a sexual context . and it addresses the dual formation of colonialism as patriarchal and homophobic-a homophobia that uncannily found an echo within Indian culture itself (homosexuality is still illegal in India). We are the spectators we want to be. also naked. the daughter enters her room. or medical models explaining homosexuality. or "having to be apologetic. the discoveries of our histories within our own cultural traditions of lesbian and gay representation. The film came about through the connections that we have as Asian lesbians and gays in the diaspora . In Parmar's words: "Sometimes they have their back to (the dancer) and are just being with each other. was a strategy of subverting the gaze. The look recalls the desiring look Madge's Nigerian husband must have used long ago on her (then youthful) body. being forced to perform this dance... whose Warrior Marks I discussed in chapter 6. Khush mixes documentary interviews with scripted." Parmar notes. this is who we are." She wanted to say: "Well. In the fantasy. The scene immediately following shows the mother's desire to have sex and be loved despite her mutilation. fantasized and dramatized scenes. Parmar 1994).'" Parmar notes that the film was a very old Indian one. The contrast between the bodies makes the point about what western culture desires in its images." Like most Parmar films. "Well. one. Onwurah replaces the daughter with Madge. The film was intended as a dialogue-as conversations that were happening between South Asian lesbians in Britain and in Canada or North America and in India. and it depicted a woman dancer performing for an evil prince. of turning the gaze around and saying. Sitting in the coffee bar with her daughter. In Kleinian terms.. Khush takes its title from the Indian word for ecstatic pleasure. look. and curls up beside her mother. withholding breast. The film's final scene offers a remarkable image in which the daughter finally is able.282 / Looking for the Other Body Politics / 283 to avoid by turning away from her mother.. (Parmar 1994) Parmar goes on to say explicitly that she did not want to make a film that would pathologize lesbians. Khush is about South Asian lesbian and gay people in Britain and India .. watching an old black and white movie with an Indian dancer. she hears her daughter insisting to the lover that he kiss her scars lovingly.
enjoying it together. In the case of corrective eye surgery. The way in which the women in Khush are filmed whole. which is also a return to youth and a replacement of how the woman is now. is to suggest that women can be something in a role that does not per se depend upon men. cosmetic eye surgery is also to provide a return to the ideal. cosmetic surgery to correct aging has similar aims to HRT. this restoring.284 / Looking for the Other Body Politics / 285 Khush (1991): The title is the Indian word for ecstatic pleasure. and they implicitly contest the ideal. "I have a different way of seeing the female body. aging) and delay the "decline" or the aesthetic disharmony: for aging women. but doing it in her different way. the devil seeks to convince a woman that the surgery will. as it were. it is intended to ward off decline. to ask time to go backwards. eradicate ethnic difference and render the woman secure and belonging. white. It . with her different eye. as in most commercial films. She focuses on how the fetishization of the female body in mainstream advertizing and film has denied women this pleasure in women's bodies. Faustus. Khush is her attempt to take back the ground purloined by the mainstream-to enter boldly into that terrain of filming the female body. Indeed. pathology. a replacement of what the woman has. To accept that women can be something after being young and sexy. this same culture seeks to reverse the "trouble" (whatever it might bemutiliation. produces an effect of the women's bodily presence." Parmar concluded (Parmar 1994). All four filmmakers dwell on the female body as it figures in the dominant white imaginary. For the nonEurocentric woman. Parmar noted that the film was a deliberate celebration of the eroticism of the female body and the pleasure in that body. A repeated scene involves two Asian women in a sexual context watching an old Indian film. like a magic wand. and a restoring of the aesthetic deemed the norm. It was my filmic strategy in thinking about questions around the gaze and the spectator-and around who's watching whom" (Parmar 1994). the film addresses colonialism as both patriarchal and homophobic. is urged on women through hormone replacement therapy (HRT). in line with some kind of fantasy of eternal youth+' The doctor becomes a kind of devil like that in Dr. not fragmented into body parts. youthful. after childbearing and motherhood. their thereness. The aim is to stop time. lesbianism. Aside from western cultures pathologizing both aging and a non-caucasian eyelid. tempting women with the promises of eternal youth if only they will take the medication or undertake the surgery. feminine standard that male culture imposes and that white women have trouble disengaging from.
Seen as both a historical fatality and as a community imagined through language. inter-gender looking. women were so far removed from the public sphere. On this matter. It is ironic that the very terms that exclude women as not part of the public sphere that "nation" demarcates return back in the language of nation as "female" (Lady Liberty. 2. assumes a moral grandeur which dying for the Labour Party . It is something that has to be artificially forged by the state in times of crisis. Kathryn Pauly Morgan sees cosmetic surgery as "one of the deepest of original sins. not in blood. women do not have open to them this kind of connection to the imagined "nation. who have every reason to feel hatred for their imperialist rulers. in the idea of nation as "home. the nation was conceived in language. But of course. It seems that before the twentieth century. In the passage in question. and that one could be 'invited into' the imagined community . I believe. I look toward the twenty-first century and the possible impact of new cyberage looking relations on inter-racial. I would think." While this seems an extreme point of view.. the choice of the apparent over the real. I do not. the object of discussion. Meanwhile. In the case of emerging nations like the United States in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. which usually one does not choose. see Benedict Anderson's chapter on "Patriotism and Racism. If subject-object looking is inevitable given modernist technologies and psychic subject formation. But see footnote 23. and thus begin the slow intertwined processes of changing consciousness and society..286 / Looking for the Other Body Politics 2~C is in male interest to keep alive the myth that after menopause women have no particular function and therefore can be passed over for younger women who still depend on men. produced through women's global (material and symbolic) confinement to the domestic sphere. or. At the same time. when states strive to incorporate women in a "national" sphere.. as always happens in wars. I theorize a psychoanalytic model for a possible approach to the Other. so already "fallen" once child-rearing years were over as not even to be pathologized in aging! It's as if the "disease" of aging that Shakespeare notes was conferred onto women as women began in the twentieth century to move out of the home. Cultures urgently need films in which female spectators can identify otherwise. Notes 1. like war. the link between the work of women (white or not) and "nation" cannot be taken for granted. Further. Could it be that the physical. One way might be to turn the gaze on whites. unless such difference is safely made exotic and thus controlled? That the pressure on minority women to assimilate to American bodily norms is precisely so as to erase a difference that threatens basic political and economic policies of the United States which rely on an unprivileged class? These questions." that dying for it produces. however. 142). therefore. "Even in the case of colonized peoples. it is astonishing how insignificant the element of hatred is in these expression (sic) of national feeling" (Anderson 1983. Anderson concludes that "from the start. as in the recent rush of ''whiteness studies" that I address briefly in concluding. Anderson notes: "Dying for one's country. As he says. it is all the more important to find ways to lessen the oppressive inequality of the objectifying. 4. agree with the claim that there is such a certain "real" that is being chosen over an "apparent. it would also apply to passing. In my concluding chapter. so as to conceal the reality women face in their oblique relationship to the concept of nation. for a modernist subject-object relationship that may temper the inevitable objectifying of any gaze. men are." or the appeal in wartime to the nation as "family" [as in Carol Reed's This Happy Breed (1939)]. As I showed in chapter 2." But this is a much longer debate that will have to be taken up elsewhere." which illuminates the oddity of people sacrificing themselves for their country. Obviously. there was an effort to construct the "Republican Mother" as a fourth branch of government. Importantly. this is a complex comparative and historical problem that I cannot address here but that clearly warrants more attention in my future research. stimulated by all the films considered in this chapter. 5.. can not rival" (144). As Anne Balsamo points out (see Balsamo 1993).. Britannia). Much is at stake in menopause. at least. the nation presents itself as simultaneously open and closed" (145-46). 3. partly because the pathology of aging had moved on to women. I am currently researching titles of Hollywood and other films featuring cosmetic surgery for a larger project on imaging the face and changing the face. men were liberated from it. cultural and linguistic difference of minority women is also something that white culture fears for a complex mixture of psychic and economic reasons. evidence the importance of independent women's films made outside Hollywood constraints. where I discuss recent news stories about younger and younger women demanding cosmetic surgery. but especially the male and imperial gazes. 6. There are more films that reference cosmetic surgery than .
Rogers (3-31). there is no guarantee of authenticity of before or after photographs" (393). "Plastic Surgery's Bright New Star. 1984) contains a brief overview of the historical development of aesthetic surgery by Blair O. .. these are not "proofs of its existence at the present time" (146). The 1984 edition of a medical handbook. headed "Public Relations. with branches in Hong Kong. no matter what race the patient. In addition." worries about the impact of communications media on plastic surgery and advises clinicians about how to deal with nosy journalists wanting sensational stories (88:4 [October 1991]. Anne Balsamo has also made this point looking at earlier medical plastic surgery volumes. going back certainly to Plato's "golden mean" but more often to Albrecht Durer's studies of proportion in 1528 (see c.288 I Looking for the Other I originally thought: e. He accepts that all cultures are the same in sharing the "pursuit of more and more easy means of satisfying wants and desires. His own hierarchy that follows is more complex than earlier ones. Maxillofacial and Reconstructive Surgery.g. The tag line reads: "Imagine Beauty through Image Technology. Bushmen). The topic of plastic surgery in black and white patients is addressed by Maltz and is sometimes referred to by other authors. Looker (1981). I was unable to find a book with the title of the one in Tom's film. Deniker already notes that "Cannibalism has been too hastily inferred from the observation of facts like 'head-hunting. the book seems to be from an earlier period. 7." in Farkos and Munro. are nevertheless well-endowed from the artistic point of view" (125). Anthropometric Facial Proportions in Medicine. it is important to note that a plastic surgery journal offers more progressive ideas than are in the handbooks. In Clinics in Plastic Surgery I found symposia on "Historical Perspectives of Plastic Surgery" (1983). 13. eds. suggesting world-wide use of the volumes with their implicit western standards. very recent articles showed perhaps new awareness of the medical profession of racial and communication issues." For Deniker. edited by Paule Regnault and Rollin K. Aquino for this point and the reference. of a sum-total of knowledge. There was also an unusual article on "Psychosocial Considerations in Interface Surgery" by Michael Pertschuk. Anne Balsamo has also discussed this focus on the angles and proportions of the "ideal" face. 11. 131-41. Sydney. and (see Kaplan. in 1991. 9. Michael Crichton's film. Another very recent issue (93:2 [February 1994]." The authors note that "at the present time. 8. but he complicates it quite a bit by distinguishing cultural sophistication from material accomplishments. However. "certain peoples (Australians. Still no mention of specifically racial issues. like Maltz'. in medical textbooks in her article "On the Cutting Edge: Cosmetic Surgery and the Technological Production of the Gendered Body" (Balsamo 1993). First Wives Club (1996). in the transmission from one generation to another of the acquired results. She also notes plastic surgeons' reluctance to operate on black patients because of supposed extra scar tissue. Aesthetic Plastic Surgery: Principles and Techniques.Joan Crawford in George Cukor's A Woman's Face (1941). is interesting in at least beginning to question automatic eighteenth-century notions of a sharp divide between the "civilised" and the "savage." which warns of the dangers of what is called." namely the Tulip LCI 200 Integrated Endoscopic Systems. "Disproportion in Psychiatric Syndromes." He concludes: "The secret of civilisation lies not so much in efforts of isolated individuals as in the accumulation of these efforts. 12. Daniel (Boston and Toronto: Little Brown Co. However. is Williams and Williams. Nevertheless. At the same time. 696). which dealt with motivations. Seconds (1966) by John Frankenheimer. Deniker goes on to cite the usual cases and reasons for cannibalism.' or the practices of adorn- Body Politics I 289 ing houses with human skulls and bones." he says. like the book by Maxwell Maltz mentioned elsewhere in this chapter. though at the bottom of the scale as regards material culture. which enables each generation to go further without beginning everything over again ab ova"(125-26). while recognizing that often the line between these two forms is hard to draw. Textbook of Plastic. 1987. Deniker's book.. "Thus. in an advertisement in the journal. Several articles about cosmetic surgery focus on the matter of facial proportions from a historical perspective. In Plastic Reconstructive Surgery. Rogers is careful to make the distinction between corrective (aesthetic surgery) and reconstructive plastic surgery. 1997) do not have space to go into details here. 10. I have elsewhere addressed issues of woman and nation in Pam Tom's Two Lies. in the main medical handbooks I found the topic of racial and ethnic issues significantly lacking. See also Carol Spitzack's interesting "confession" of a visit to a cosmetic surgeon (Spitzack 1988).." He still insists on a hierarchy of races and cultures. however. as well as traditional articles about "Aesthetic Surgery of the Facial Skeleton: The Forehead" (1991). Plastic Surgery for Black and White Patients. 393) has an editorial headed "The Computer and Truth. An editorial by Thomas Rees. and if psychosocial change results (Pertschuk 1991). I want to thank my student Hilary C. It's important to note that the book publisher of the main medical handbook I looked at. K Deutsch. Munich and Tokyo. I was surprised to find the same classical "rules" being advocated in the 1990s books. whether or not these are realized.
and the general pressure being put on institutions by minority groups. 1996. does go on to admit that "if women used ovary transplants to postpone menopause indefinitely. because she's undergoing certain physical changes. Rainer's film stimulates many of the questions for researchers to pursue. Clearly. such as African Americans or Asians. Sheehy notes African American women's statistical likelihood of having more hysterectomies because of fibroids. funding sources are dwindling. with big muscles and again western (in this case Clint Eastwood-style) looks. and most recently on African women and rituals they are involved in in today's world (see Monday'S Girls  and The Desired Number ). changing eyelids." held in New York in 1992. Since making this film. "Special Faces: Understanding Facial Disfigurement. Onwurah has focused on African American history (And Still I Rise ). When I was recently in Japan. brought in cognitive psychologists as well as surgeons to address psychosocial issues. 293-301). such as enlarging breasts. as a familiar assumed category with qualities attached. could not be relied upon to be that category. does have a section titled "Across Color. 15. But when you look at the procedures involved. as Healey had said. However. together with the ICA Documents (1988) both cited in the bibliography." "ethnicity. And. In her book. the scars are thinner. she finds that women in Asian and African cultures-where older women are granted some respect and some specific roles-do not suffer the same kinds of physical symptoms as white women in the West where youth and beauty figure so hugely. 17. 23. lightening hair." What's interesting here is seeing these doctors struggling with the discursive formation regarding older women. Class and Culture Lines. "It may mean that what we think of as key sign of aging in women doesn't happen. For example. It would destabilize a doctor's mental framework. Young British and Black. Hilary C. It means . There is one reference to a Mexican American family and to a black grandmother in the discussion of different life courses for men and women. a television news story deals with women in their early thirties now already turning to cosmetic surgery to stay young or to "manage" a chin line they don't like. As I write on February 12. I was shown special women's beauty parlors. is modelled on and played by Onwurah's own white mother. Things do seem to be slowly changing in regard to plastic surgeons' awareness of the manipulations of the media and of psychosocial impacts of plastic surgery. see Coco Fusco. the mother. 19. These include statements like "It's not an easy matter to treat the menopausal patient. Aquino did the research that underlies this point. is quoted as saying that when menopause is forestalled indefinitely. 21. The preoccupation with a highly stereotypical white female and male body is most evident in the many "comic" books that overwhelm newsstands and to which entire bookstores are devoted." or for specific ethnic groups. 16. and a conference. It would change this way of thinking if suddenly older women. Gail Sheehy (Sheehy 1991). director of the Center of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. although in postThatcherite Britain. and Madge. It forces us to rethink who we are and what we are in the life course. to her credit. A doctor interviewed says that younger and younger women are demanding cosmetic surgery: he declares that young skin is more resilient. Dr." that began to address the need to work with patients within cultural constructs familiar to them." "multiculturalism. many are indeed ones which mimic the western female body. All of this requires in-depth analysis to be properly understood. There was an article." But a Dr. something that older men are not interested in! Body Politics / 291 18. it would equalize men and women in the life cycle. The UK continues to offer opportunities for alternate film greater than that in the United States. 22. a new era is emerging in which such surgery will by no means be sought only by post-menopausal women. that the biological clock gets turned back. We see ourselves very differently when fundamental biological cues don't happen. Onwurah drew on biographical memory in this film. Friedan's otherwise excellent volume has no index entry for "race. But again whiteness and youthfulness seem to be viewed as the ideal standard. it would equalize men and women in terms of their reproductive life span. class and culture in relation to menopause requires more study. Rainer's film would seem to belie Sheehy's statement that African American women reported few symptoms of menopause. as in the past. it heals better. The entire issue of color. which advertize expertise in creating the height of Japanese loveliness. Generally.290 / Looking for the Other 14." in which she very briefly surveys some anthropological studies of menopause in different cultures. see the language in my epigraph that doctors were recently quoted as using in relation to new possibilities for storing women's ovaries and then replacing them after menopause. Caplan. Once again. . My thanks to her.. it is easier for the doctor to cut and tuck. The men are huge. with pert snub noses and blonde long hair. "Plastic Surgery with Hispanic Burn Patients. For detailed information about new attention to black filmmakers in the wake of the Brixton riots in 1981. The women drawn in these books are long-legged. Healey.. it changes people's idea of the life cycle. 20." or "The way she faces up to these problems has an important bearing on what her menopause will be like" (MacDonald 1995.
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