Gazing at the lifestyles of other passengers becomes a pleasurable pastime, suitable to fill the time prior to departure. ” This shows how we are not committed to our body modification and can change them when we feel like it. For instance now if we get a tattoo we can relatively easily have it removed or with a body piercing we can just simply take it out, and then we are no longer making a statement about ourselves. Our loyalties are easily transferable unlike those of primitive tribal groups.
Post-modern society sees these markings as being part of the individualisation of man as it no longer signifies being part of a group.They are just another part of consumer culture (Turner, 1999). However it can also be said that because of the pain involved with tattooing and piercing there may be some deeper meaning to it. Otherwise everyone would get clip-on piercings or transfers instead of tattoos. (Sweetman 1999) Therefore this type of body modification could always be associated with the way in which they get their tattoo or piercing rather than what looks like. The symbolism in tattoos is more of a fashion than of any real meaning.
“Contemporary body modification continues to signify at the denotative level, even if its connotative message is increasingly ambiguous.” (Sweetman 1999) Body modification of the 1960’s and 70’s was associated with shaving your head so that you could be part of a recognisable group (skinheads). Whereas, now there isn’t one specific group of society that gets tattooed or pierced, so it could be looked at as a sign of everyone’s growing individuality or their growing insecurities. Body modification in this sense can be seen as a way of anchoring us to ourselves and giving us a permanent identity.
Klesse however disagrees with this stating that not everyone has the ability to construct his or her own identity.Klesse believes that we are to quick to say that modernity is about fashion. Klesse calls this modern primitivism and is very critical of it. He believes that the mixing of cultures has been overlooked. The mixing of cultures could have influenced the upsurge in tattoos and piercings instead of them being seen as a neo-tribal part of identity. Klesse also argues that we need to give up the complete separation of modernity and primitivism as one is associated with the west and the other associated with the non-west (Klesse 1999).
Post-modern culture sees body modification as fashion accessory without much meaning to it.The artwork is mainly influenced by ancient tribal designs and there is nothing authentic about it. Which is typical of a post-modern society.
Body modification and feminism can be linked especially in the past 20 years. In the area of feminism the main influences at the moment are post structuralism and post-modern feminism. One of the main debates in feminism is the equality versus difference argument.
The equality argument states that as rational beings woman are essentially the same as men-and therefore are concerned with reworking what they see as ill-conceived theories and representation of women.From this perspective women are seen as capable of doing what men do, as capable of being ‘men’ and are expected to enter into the world of men. In the difference argument the emphasis is on the difference between men and women, this is usually associated with radical feminism. These feminists celebrate women’s social and cultural difference and often have a political point of view. This argument seeks to re-conceive the relationship between men and women as ‘different but complementary’. This means that they have to evaluate the difference and dismantle the hierarchy that underlies men and women in western society.Radical feminists also celebrate sexual difference and this has led to some feminists believing that women are ethically better than men are.
This is a reversal of traditional gender hierarchy of Western societies. Another strand of feminism that is associated with the difference argument is one that is part of poststructuralism/postmodernism. These feminists are not as gynocentric as radical feminists. They believe that there is a difference between men and women but not in the celebratory way that the radicalists believe.This argument is much more critical of the differences and tries to reflect on how these differences are constructed and maintained.
It focuses more on social difference rather than sexual difference. Body modifications such as plastic surgery and dieting and exercise are for the most part are usually associated with women. However there is evidence that men are seeking to ‘improve’ their bodies and that the numbers are growing rapidly (Davis, 2002).
The media portrays this trend as much larger than it actually is.”The media in the US and Europe abound with stories of how men, like women, suffer doubts about their appearance, agonize over their baldness, worry about their ‘beer bellies’ and underdeveloped pecs, bemoan their sagging eyelids and worry lines, and dissolve into panic about the size of their penis (this is now called the ‘locker-room syndrome’). Reports indicate that men are currently spending billions of dollars on beauty products, gym memberships and exercise equipment, hair-color treatments and transplants, and, of course, cosmetic surgery.Once regarded as a practice reserved almost exclusively for women, cosmetic surgery has now become acceptable for men. According to a 1996 survey in the UK, 13 percent of British men admitted that they ‘expected to have aesthetic surgery at some point'” (Davis, 2002) This could lead us to believe that the gender gap is closing. And that we are moving towards sexual and social equality.
The upsurge of cosmetic surgery in men could be put down to the media and consumerism in the capitalist Western world or it could be seen as the advancement of men socially, it has become acceptable for men to try and improve themselves physically.Some feminists would argue that the sameness between men and women has always been there and that it is only natural for men to improve themselves. Others could argue that women are being marginalized by this advancement of the male. As the more improvements men make to their appearance the more power and knowledge they will gain and the more likely they will be to describe women as the Other rather than as mixed group of people. Poststructuralist feminists reject the image of women as the Other but also say that”There is nothing that is essential to the category ‘women’ in post-modern thought: it has no intrinsic qualities (no given content) that can be the subject of feminism” (Beasley, 1999).
Feminism and postmodernism can be linked but can also be looked at as two different strands of thought. Body modification is seen to a primitive and tribal thing to do to your body when the focus of body modification is on tattoos and piercings. Post-modernists seem to think that there is nothing authentic about body modification in post-modern societies, which for the most part are capitalist consumer Western societies.And that the reasons people do it is either for anti-fashion reasons or as way to make their individuality know and display it to the world.
There are many different ways of looking at feminism, and within body modification there are conflicting views. Some say that it is a way for men to suppress women as ‘the Other’ whereas others believe that men are finally realising that it is okay to improve their outer appearance. In any case the role of body modification has become a large part of Western society in the past 20-30 years.This phenomenon isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon and with tattoos, piercings and the quest for the ‘perfect’ body by the media it is only likely to increase and cause more debate.References 1. C KLESSE. (1999) Modern Primitivism’: Non-Mainstream Body Modification and Racialized Representation Body ; Society London:Sage. Vol.
5(2-3): 15-38 2. VICTORIA PITTS. (1999) Body Modification, Self-Mutilation and Agency in Media Accounts of a Subculture Body ; Society London: Sage.
Vol. 5(2-3): 291-303 3. KATHY DAVIS (2002) ‘A Dubious Equality’: Men, Women and Cosmetic Surgery Body ; Society London: Sage.Vol. 8(1): 49-65 4. MIKE FEATHERSTONE (1999) Body Modification: An Introduction Body ; Society London: Sage.
Vol. 5(2-3): 1-13 5. PAUL SWEETMAN (1999) Anchoring the (Postmodern) Self? Body Modification, Fashion and Identity Body ; Society London: Sage. Vol. 5(2-3): 51-76 6.
TURNER BRYAN S. (1999) The Possibility of Primitiveness: Towards a Sociology of Body Marks in Cool Societies Body ; Society London: Sage. Vol.
5(2-3): 39-50 7. BEASLEY, C. (1999) ‘ More on the menu: postmodernist/poststructuralist influences’ What Is Feminism? An Introduction to Feminist Theory.
London: Sage. pp81-100.