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The Body:

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Jennequia Brown

on 1 May 2014

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Transcript of The Body:

Background and Justification
Women didn't have a say in how many children they would have--that power was given to the mother-in-law and/or the husband.
I spent Summer 2013 in Pune, India doing research on the parity (number of births) and contraceptive use of women who live in urban slums.
Retrospectively, it has become clear that most of the women in the urban slums had no agency with regard to their reproductive rights, nor prospects of ever gaining any.
This experience led me to pursue the question of sexual agency as the focus of my leadership semester.
Mission Statement: Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands supports survivors in recovery from the trauma associated with sexual assault and abuse and educates the community to identify and prevent sexual violence
In the Midlands (Richland, Newberry, and Lexington counties):

57 case of forced rape
45 cases of forced fondling
6 cases of sexual assault with an object
21 cases of statutory rape
In 2007 in South Carolina, there were over 1500 arrests for sex-related crimes.

506 forced raped
406 forced fondling
76 sexual assault with an object
168 statutory rape
These numbers do not account for the cases of sexual crimes that go unreported.
Helene Cixous's
Laugh of the Medusa
(1976) encourages women to write in a feminine-mode in order to (re)connect with her body.
John Berger's
Ways of Seeing
(1972) concept of the surveyor and the surveyed.
Trang Quach's
Femininity and sexual agency among young unmarried women in Hanoi
Merriam Webster definition:

a person or thing through which power is exerted or an end is achieved .

Sexual agency is defined as an individual's right and ability to define and control their own sexuality, free from coercion and exploitation (Jackson, 1987).

Xuan: ‘He wanted to think that I never had sex, so I let him think that way. You see, men are such
fools. They can’t know women con or mat (still have or lose virginity)…Men in general are selfish. They want to be our first man while we are not the first and, of course, not the only woman…’
Trang: ‘And he really did not know anything?’
Xuan: ‘How could he know? I did not agree to have sex with him straight away. I let him use all
kinds of tricks to persuade me before I agreed.’
Essential Site of Agency
The Body:
Research Question:
How does the body, as it relates to sexuality and to general social being, influence one’s personal sense or understanding of agency?
The surveyor (the male gaze) is the person who is always looking at the surveyed (the woman). Berger discussing how the female has been taught to view herself as the surveyed in the perspective of the surveyor.

When she completes an action, she is always considering what that surveyor thinks. "Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another" (Berger, 1972).
Cixous does not want women to look as her as the surveyed and the surveyor, but just the survey. The binary that stands in between the surveyed and the survey, Cixous encourages women, to get rid of it. Once that is done, the women no longer has to worry about how she is seen through the "phallogocentric" lens.
Body for self and Body for other
Body-for-other: social and cultural expectations to uphold feminine sexual identities.
Body-for-self: using the body in culturally expected ways to acquire honor/pleasure.
Iris Marion's
Throwing like a girl
(1990) emphasizes the position that women have as the object, or the thing that is being acted upon, and the subject, the actor.
Marion (1990) states: "An essential part of the situation of being a woman is that of living the ever-present possibility that one will be gazed upon as a mere body, as shape and flesh that presents itself as the potential object of another subject’s intentions and manipulations, rather than as a living manifestation of action and intention" (p. 66).
The Literature
Based on the literature...
Women have a split paradigm between them. As either the surveyed and the surveyor, the object and the subject, or the both-for-self, and the body-for-other.

A women's agency is something that she has to manipulate in order to receive pleasure.

Women's sexual agency governed by the male gaze.
Sexual Agency of Sexual Trauma Survivors
STSM promotes sexual agency in survivors of sexual trauma by allowing the survivors to make their own decisions when it comes down to their cases of assault. It is their choice if they decide to report a case of sexual abuse and it is their choice to abort or keep the child if the sexual abuse results in a pregnancy.
STSM allows the survivors take the blame off themselves and understand that the act that took place is not their fault regards of the stimuli that preceded the assault.
When [survivors] are aware of [their] sexual practice as a matter of rights, rather than problems [or coping mechanism], they will be able to successfully exercise their agency to enjoy sexual pleasure without guilt, fear, or shame (Quach, 2008).
Berger, J. (19731972). Ways of seeing. London: British Broadcasting Corp.

Carcirieri, A. T., & Osman, S. L. (2011). Predicting body shame of college women based on sexual victimization recency and frequency. Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research, 16(4), 158-162

Cixous, H. (1976). The laugh of the medusa. (1st ed., Vol. 4, pp. 875-893). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Jackson, M. (1987) ‘Facts of life’ or the eroticization of women’s oppression? Sexology and the social construction
of heterosexuality. In P. Caplan (ed.) The cultural construction of sexuality (London & New York: Routledge),
pp. 52–81.

Quach, T. (2008). Femininity and sexual agency among young unmarried women in Hanoi. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 10151-161. doi:10.1080/13691050701809248

Young, I. M. (1990). Throwing like a girl: A phenomenology of feminine body comportment, motility, and spatiality. In Throwing like a girl and other essays in feminist philosophy and social theoryBloomington: Indian University Press.

The promotion of sexual agency in survivors of sexual trauma varies on a individual level. Every survivor copes with trauma differently.


Dr. Coco Mann and the GWS Division

CMRTA (transportation)

Columbia College

Sexual Agency in Men

Men are socialized to be the agents of sexual practices. If a man does not show agency sexually, then--it is suggested that--his masculinity is questioned.

For example.....

The body as a social and cultural construct--established very early on for both girls and boys--determines one's "social presence" (Berger) as subject and/or object, which in turn carries over to the intimate spheres associated with sexual relations, and consequently one's own sexuality
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