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Body & Society

http://bod.sagepub.com Fleshing out Gender: Crafting Gender Identity on Women's Bodies


VALRIE FOURNIER Body Society 2002; 8; 55 DOI: 10.1177/1357034X02008002004 The online version of this article can be found at: http://bod.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/8/2/55

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Fleshing out Gender: Crafting Gender Identity on Womens Bodies


VALRIE FOURNIER

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy travail; in pain thou shalt bring forth children. (Genesis 3:16)

The idea that womens destiny is to suffer, an unfortunate fate to which they are doomed by their weak bodies (and minds), has a long history in medical, Christian and popular discourses, and has been captured by various representations of womens bodies as sick or in pain (e.g. the image of Mary as suffering mother, the gure of the hysterical woman, the translation of menopause, menstruation, PMS, and more recently cellulite and fat, into womens pathologies). In these representations, women emerge as walking wounded, [displaying their] injuries during menstruation, [conrming] them during childbirth (Gay, 1984: 172). And indeed, there seems to be something [that] hurts about being woman (Wolf, 1990: 219). The juxtaposition of women and pain in the images above has some resonance in womens own experiences and accounts of their bodies. Women experience more pain and non-life-threatening illnesses than men (Finkler, 1994), a propensity which has been attributed, at various times, to their weak biological constitution, their reproductive function, or the un-masculinity of sickness and pain. Alternatively, womens pain can be seen as the expression of the body making anger (Finkler, 1994) as it is caught in social and moral contradictions. Finkler draws upon the phenomenological notion of embodiment to locate the body within networks of social, moral and cultural orders, and to argue that contradictions within the social are lived in the body and are marked on bodies as life-lesions. Although the exact nature of these contradictions depends on social contexts, Finkler argues that women are more likely to be caught in
Body & Society 2002 SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi), Vol. 8(2): 5577 [1357034X(200206)8:2;5577;027663]

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these contradictions and to be scarred by life lesions.1 Swann (1997) makes a similar point when she argues that the pain associated with PMS is the expression of womens fear of, and anger at, their hardships (material, nancial, emotional). For Swann (1997) as for Finkler (1994), womens pain is the embodiment of the contradictions and constraints under which women are placed in patriarchal systems, the expression of body anger. Pain has also been used as a powerful symbolic resource in womens literature (e.g. Simone de Beauvoir, Maria Cardinal, Alba de Cespedes, Marguerite Duras, Doris Lessing, Sylvia Plath). Pain, here expressed symbolically through nausea, loss, or a sense of excessive and abject esh, appears as an overwhelming burden which comes to shatter the heroines lives and leaves them with nothing but its debilitating presence. In this article, I draw upon the (symbolic) connections between woman and pain in order to apprehend an embodied or carnal sense of womanhood. In particular, I use the notion of pain to weave together two themes in feminist literature: the constitution of woman through her effacement, and the inscription of gender on the body. Since at least de Beauvoirs (1972) Second Sex, feminist critiques have argued that women become women by being constituted as the other of the male subject. Women are constituted through their negation (as subjects) or lack. I am aware that I am taking some liberty in collapsing very different theoretical traditions (from 1970s radical feminism to various brands of post-structuralist feminism drawing on the work of Derrida e.g. Feder et al., 1997 or Lacan e.g. Cixous and Clment, 1986; Irigaray, 1985; Mitchell and Rose, 1982). However, notwithstanding some signicant theoretical differences, these feminist critiques concur in seeing the feminine as being produced through its effacement within the masculine discursive or symbolic order. In the words of Derrida, there is no such thing as a woman (1979, quoted in Feder and Zakin, 1997: 46), woman seems to be the no-thing beyond the text, a nothingness that has no place in reality (Cornell, 1991). My aim in this article is to explore what it feels like to be no-thing, and in particular to apprehend the experience of being effaced in terms of an embodied sense of being gutted out or eviscerated. I draw upon the symbolism of pain and violence to talk about effacement as an embodied experience, in terms of the presence of pain rather than a lack or absence (of voice or subjectivity). Thus I want to suggest that effacement is done on the body, and is experienced through the body. And this is the second theme that I draw upon: the inscription of gender on the body. This literature is largely indebted to the work of Foucault (1980, 1981) in which the body emerges as the point where social regulation and practices of the self meet, where discipline is inscribed on the self. From a Foucauldian
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perspective, the making of the gendered self, or gender identity, is the product of disciplinary practices of the body that ensure the reproduction of heterosexuality as the norm. The body is seen as material that is enrolled in the production of gender rather than as providing the biological foundation for gender differences (Butler, 1993; Grosz, 1994). Sex or gender2 are seen as historically and culturally contingent achievements produced or made real through inscriptions on the body. For example, for Butler, sex:
. . . not only functions as a norm, but is part of a regulatory practice that produces the bodies it governs, that is, whose regulatory force is made clear as a kind of productive power, a power to produce demarcate, circulate, differentiate the bodies it controls. (1993: 1)

From this perspective, the sexed body is produced through various gendered mechanisms, or regulatory practices which normalize and mark bodies as male or female. However, the body that turns up in this work on body inscriptions rarely turns out to be sentient.3 It is a body that seems to act as the passive recipient or bearer of inscriptions (Miles, 1998) but never seems to be wounded, pained, scarred by the inscriptions. In this article, I share the post-structuralist view that gender is performed, and is performed through inscriptions on the body, but I want to concentrate on the pain and violence of inscription, and the role of pain in the making up of gender, or, more particularly, the experience of womanhood. Thus I argue that gendered mechanisms do their work of inscription on womens bodies by hurting and injuring, and more specically (to return to the point on effacement made earlier) by gutting out or emptying out. The argument in the article unfolds in three parts. In the rst section, I develop an embodied or carnal account of womens effacement by drawing upon a material understanding of the self. I propose to analyse the moral project of the self (Foucault, 1982; Rose, 1989) as one played out in materials. However, as will be illustrated within the context of work organizations, the materials that count in the making of the self are not equally distributed; in this article I concentrate on the gendered distribution of self materials and suggest that the self-less-ness of women can be read as immateriality, or as being gutted out of materials. Thus my aim here is to esh out the experience of effacement or self-less-ness by apprehending it in terms of immateriality, an image that evokes both the idea of women being inconsequential or not counting (effaced), and the pain of evisceration, of being gutted out of materials.4 The second part of the paper delves into the embodied experience of pain. Here I draw upon Scarrys (1985) poignant analysis of the body in pain to explore the immateriality of womanhood. I draw connections between the experience of womanhood and Scarrys account of the experience of pain by discussing both in terms of the annihilation of the self as it

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is engulfed in an abject mass of hurting esh. The third section also draws upon Scarrys (1985) work and her argument about the reality-conferring function of wounded bodies. Following Scarrys arguments, I explore the connections between womens pain and the substantiation of gender, and suggest that wounded womens bodies lend their esh to the idea of gender. In the nal section, I briey explore some of the implications of delving into the pain for emancipatory politics. But before launching into the argument, I would like to make some caveats. By connecting pain and womanhood, I am not implying that the embodied experience of pain and evisceration is the essence of womanhood, nor that womanhood is saturated by pain, nor that women have a monopoly over pain. As I have already suggested, I take as my point of departure the idea that gender identity is performed (and thus has no essence) through inscriptions on the body; what I am suggesting in the following discussion is that these inscriptions do their work of gendering by inicting pain. Materializing the Subject/De-materializing Woman If Foucauldian work has analysed the project of the self as central to modern government, feminist critiques have long argued that subjectication is a gendered process through which women tend to emerge as non-subject, other or object (e.g. de Beauvoir, 1972; Cixous and Clment, 1986; Irigaray, 1985). After briey situating the self as a modern project, I draw upon Actor Network Theory (Callon, 1986; Latour, 1987) to frame the analysis of subjectivity in terms of materiality and immateriality. Subjectication: Modernism and the Project of the Self Foucault (1977, 1982) sees the emergence of the individual self as a historical product embedded within the project of modernity. For Foucault, modernity is not about the repression of the self, but its constitution as an autonomous and sovereign subject, free (but responsible) to invent him/herself. The individual, through techniques of the self, is constituted as an autonomous subject, with a responsibility, and an interest, in making up him/herself in certain ways (e.g. healthy, happy, self-actualized). The power of subjectication works by tying individuals to a sense, a knowledge, of their selves as sovereign agents (Foucault, 1982). Dened as free, autonomous and self-determining, individuals are required to make something of themselves (Willmott, 1994) by enrolling and appropriating discursive resources that ll them up as subject, or substantiate their subject-ivity.

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Although there are many different (overlapping and conicting) sites for digging out fragments of selfhood, modern organizations their corporate culturalism, careers and challenges have become a privileged source of materials in the management and constitution of subjectivity (Rose, 1989). As Willmott (1993) notes, work organizations, with their endless promises of status provide for a sense of ontological security; they offer ready-made material for the making of subjectivity, and free (or rob) the individual of the painful and angst-ridden burden of freedom. I will discuss the role of work organizations (and their gendered nature) in the project of the self shortly, but before I do so, I would like to return to the idea of making something of oneself, for this alerts us to two aspects of the project of the self that are central to the present argument. First the something signals the thing-ness or materiality of subjectivity, a point developed in the next section. Secondly, the something suggests that it is not any thing that can earn one a self, that some things will count and others will not, and, as I will argue shortly, the material that counts is distributed along gendered (as well as many other) lines. The Materiality of the Subject Actor Network Theory (ANT) (e.g. Callon, 1986; Latour, 1987) shares with the work of Foucault an emphasis on the contingent nature of the self. However, with the notion of relational materiality, it also invites us to explore how the relational becomes inscribed and stabilized in materials. ANT attends to the thing-ness or materiality of subjectivity by suggesting that social relations and categories (such as the self) acquire meaning, substance through their enrolment in materials:
Perhaps, then, when we look at the social, we are also looking at the production of materiality. And when we look at materials, we are witnessing the production of the social. (Law and Mol, 1995: 274)

Thus we can only understand social relations and categories (e.g. the men/women binary) by exploring how materials and technologies get mobilized, enrolled into the social fabric (Latour, 1991). ANT also suggests that it is not just the bits of materials in themselves that provide substance, meaning and durability to the social, but the relations between these bits of materials (Law and Mol, 1995). Things, human or not (e.g. self, technology), dualisms (e.g. human/technical, subject/object, male/female, nature/culture) acquire their existence and qualities through their connections to other things, through their relationships and embeddedness in networks. This emphasis on assemblage, connection and materials has some important implications for our understanding of subjectivity. In ANT, the self becomes a
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relational and material phenomenon, an assemblage of materials, a thing that emerges and acquires its substance through its connections with other things:
A subject is a heterogeneous assemblage of materials and textuality spread across diverse and (in some parts) nonlocalizable networks and ows. It is an ongoing project in perpetual ux and continuous variation. (Lee and Brown, 1994: 786)

To draw upon a much used example in ANT (Latour, 1988), Pasteur becomes a successful scientist through his enrolment in bits and pieces of texts and materials such as bacteria, laboratory, laboratory assistants, farms and farmers; Pasteur the scientist is an ordered network of materials, a relational effect (Law and Mol, 1995). Thus the self is made up, or constituted through inscriptions in materials, it is not an inherent property but an achievement, one that, in modernity, has also become a moral project. The contingent or relational nature of the social, of the self is of course a point which has been made long before ANT, and, as discussed earlier, is central to the work of Foucault. However, ANT shows how these relations are played not only in the social but also in the material. Thus, from an ANT perspective, we can redene the project of the self in terms of literally making something of oneself, a project that is achieved by enrolling oneself into materials. However, not all materials make for equal durability or substantiation of the self. Some materials may provide more substance, more lling in the project of self-fullment than others. For example, although Pasteur was a father, among other things, as well as a successful scientist, the materials of his fatherhood do not carry as much weight as the materials of Pasteur the scientist. Although Pasteur the father may still be remembered by some of his descendants, Pasteur the scientist is remembered by many more. The materials that went into the making of Pasteur the scientist seem more enduring, they have more strength and durability so that Pasteur the scientist travels further (in space and time) than Pasteur the father. So the point here is that not all material counts, at least to the same extent, in the making up of the self. Not all material provides as much substance, visibility and mobility to the self. This issue about the relative value of materials in the making up of the self raises questions about access to, and distribution of, materials. Thus not all of us have equal access to the materials that count, to the resources that can be enrolled in heterogeneous engineering (Law, 1991). While I acknowledge that the materials that count in the making of subjectivity are distributed according to many lines of social divisions, I concentrate on the gendered distribution of these resources. The Gendered Distribution of Materials The gendered distribution of materials that count in the making of the self can be poignantly illustrated within the context of work organizations. As suggested
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earlier, work organizations provide a useful focus for they constitute an increasingly privileged site for making something of oneself (du Gay, 1996; Fournier, 1998; Miller and Rose, 1995; Willmott, 1994). Multiple materials come into the making of the self at work; for example, time (working long hours), toughness (the ability to take and inict violence), visibility, business skills, etc. And the gendered distribution of these resources (as well as the ability to appropriate them as ones own) is a phenomenon that has been well documented. For example, feminist critiques have long argued that bureaucratic and professional modes of organizing make their privileged resources rationality and expert knowledge the preserve of men (Ferguson, 1984; Savage and Witz, 1992; Witz, 1992). Furthermore, there is a vast body of research on the gendering of skills which suggests that the qualities that women are seen or made to bring to work (such as dexterity, caring, attractiveness) are not constructed as skills or performance but simply as the manifestation of women behaving as women (Adkins, 1995; Thomas, 1996). Thus womens contribution in organizations is often seen as not counting. For example, as Thomas (1996) illustrates in the context of academic work, the activities that women are more likely to perform are made not to count in the making of the successful academic:
It was accepted that women undertook most of the pastoral work and that this work went largely unrecognised and unrewarded. (Thomas, 1996: 151)

The possession of time (and the ability to devote it to an organization) has also become a central resource in the making up of the self at work. The ability to work long hours has become not only necessary in order to make up for the increased workload brought about by de-layering, but has also become a test of commitment to the organization (Collinson and Collinson, 1997). In addition, Grint and Case (1998) suggest that toughness and the ability to take violence have become privileged resources in the making up of work subjectivity in contemporary management discourses. However, both time and toughness are resources that seem to be in shorter supply among those marked as women. Men can only be seen to have time for organizations by using and appropriating womens time at home and at work (Buswell and Jenkins, 1994). Although the ability to take or inict violence is not inherently male it is an attribute that is less likely to be attributed to women.5 As Grint and Case (1998) argue, the emphasis on toughness and the ability to take violence is already marked as masculine and can be read as an attempt to return to the times when men were men. This imagery of violence and toughness is also perpetuated through the language of organizational tness portraying organizations as having to be lean and mean to survive.

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Organizational tness is symbolized by employees bodies that are also supposed to evoke leanness and strength through the display of well-shaped muscles, a body tissue which, through the equation of sporting prowess with masculinity, is more likely to be associated with men (Turner, 1996). What all these examples point to is that the materials that count in making something of oneself at work are more readily available to those marked as men than those marked as women.6 The Immateriality of Womanhood I have argued so far that the project of the self is achieved through enrolling materials that count, and that the distribution of the materials that count in the making up of the self is gendered. The masculine subject, the person assigned the male gender, will have easier access to materials that count in the making up of the self at work (e.g. muscles, skills, toughness, time) than the feminine subject. Thus the masculine subject will be more material, more lled or saturated in materials that count than the feminine subject. The experience of womanhood is unfullling, in that it leaves the self empty of materials that count. If women do not have what it takes to make something of themselves, are they then immaterial? Unfortunately, ANT is of little help in analysing immateriality, that which does not count. While ANT talks about the power of materials, the durability and materiality of the powerful, it has little to say about the wretched, the suffering (Law, 1991; Star, 1991) or what I have called the immaterial. So here I leave ANT to explore the immateriality of (some of) those who do not count. In order to do so, I turn to the work of Scarry (1985) to explore the pain of immateriality. Scarry proposes a similar understanding of the self as ANT; she talks about the making of the self and of the world as involving a process of extension into material objects which lift us from the mute facts of sentience of the body into the shareable, social world. We project our body power into the making of material artefacts (e.g. glove, telephone), which in turn transform the body (the glove transforms the power of the hand, the telephone the power of the ear). We create and transform the self and the world through acts of extension or projection (of the body into the making of objects) and reciprocation (the objects transform the self and the world). As in ANT, it is these attachments to materials that extend the body into the world and give meaning or substance to the self. However, if Scarrys understanding of the making of the self is similar to ANTs in stressing attachment to materials, she also attends to the severing of these material attachments, to what I have called the immaterial, in her analysis of the body in pain. She reads in the body in pain the unmaking of the self and

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of the world; pain is the inversion of making. In the next section, I draw upon Scarrys (1985) work to explore the immateriality of womanhood. The Pain and Violence of Womanhood My point in talking about effacement in terms of immateriality, of the gutting out of materials, in the previous section was to esh out or embody the experience of womanhood, to suggest that to be effaced is not just about being robbed of visibility or of a voice, but also entails being gutted out. This image of gutting out evokes the pain involved in the making of womanhood; and it is to this pain that I now turn. In order to explore pain, I draw upon Scarrys (1985) work, and use it as a symbolic framework to apprehend the immateriality of womanhood. Woman: Emptiness, Excess and the Abject For Scarry (1985) the totality, immediacy and presence of pain in the injured body enacts a double movement: rst, it dissolves the self and the world, and, second, it magnies the sentience of the body. In pain, the body becomes a colossal mass of esh that ensnares the self and the world; one becomes at once empty (of a self, of meaning) and an excess (of esh), nothing but a mass of hurting esh. This contrasting imagery of emptiness and excess is reminiscent of two images often encountered in representations of women: one as ideational shadow, the other as embodied excess (Feder and Zakin, 1997: 30). In these representations, woman is, on the one hand, a tempting ghost that seduces but can only be seen at a distance, and, on the other, an excess of esh and body uids that disgusts and repels. As feminist critiques drawing on the work of Derrida (e.g. Feder et al., 1997) or Lacan (e.g. Mitchell and Rose, 1982) suggest, woman emerges as both lack and excess. In the following discussion I read Scarrys (1985) analysis of pain as involving three intertwining elements: the experience of emptiness, of excess and of the abject. I use these three elements as a symbolic framework to explore the immateriality of womanhood. Scarry (1985) reads in the body in pain the un-making or emptying of the self. Pain ruptures attachment to the world for pain has no external referent; it is unshareable and makes us retreat to the self-isolation, the mute facts, of the body. While other states of consciousness (feelings, emotions, self) are for something, or about something that makes us extend outside the boundaries of the body, pain makes us shrink into the body. Pain is characterized by its overwhelming presence and totality, it destroys everything (the world, the self):
Pain begins by being not oneself and ends by having eliminated all that is not itself. At rst occurring only as an appalling but limited internal fact, it eventually occupies the entire body

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and spills out into the realm beyond the body, takes over all that is inside and outside, makes the two obscenely indistinguishable, and systematically destroys anything like language or world extension that is alien to itself and threatening to its claims. Terrifying for its narrowness, it nevertheless exhausts and displaces all else until it seems to become the single broad and omnipresent fact of existence. From no matter what perspective pain is approached, its totality is again and again faced. (Scarry, 1985: 545)

If the self is made through connections with materials that lift us from the sentience of the body, the unshareability of pain ruptures these attachments to the world; to have pain is to lose (materials for) ones self, to be emptied of a self. This sense of emptiness brought about by pain has some vivid resonances with experiences and representations of womanhood. The association between womanhood and emptiness is illustrated by Derridas (1979) images of woman as seducing ghost, or undecidability (Caputo, 1997). Woman is not undecidable because of some essential feminine trait, but because the very constitution of womanhood works through fracturing the connections that make us into something, that give us ontological security.7 The gutting out of materials that count in the making of the self, like pain, serves to detach womanhood from connections to networks, attachments to materials that would ll and give substance to, the self. This connection between a sense of emptiness and the experience of womanhood has been vividly captured in womens art. For example, Sue Charlesworths image of an empty dress, hanging from nowhere, suggests a line of contour, a surface embodying nothing and connected to nothing. Shermans series of black and white photographs in the 1970s (Untitled Film Stills) depicts herself in various disguises, scenes, pauses and dresses, all reminiscent of American movies from the 1950s, and all presenting us with an abundance of stereotypical images of womans passivity (she does a lot of waiting), glamour and fear. These pictures represent the emptiness of femininity; the movement from one image only leads to another image, each endlessly displacing and deferring an elusive real core or substance (Betterton, 1996). In the series, Sherman and femininity emerge as a set of images, surface-ness, a masquerade hiding nothing (Krauss, 1993; Williamson, 1983):
The image suggests that there is a particular kind of femininity in the woman we see, whereas in fact femininity is in the image itself, it is the image. (Williamson, 1983: 102)

The masquerade which is conjured up in the series emerges as the condition of existence of femininity, rather than masking some true essence of femininity, so that as far as femininity goes, there is nothing but costume (Krauss, 1993: 44).8 However, if pain brings about a sense of emptiness, the annihilation of the self, gutted out of material that would give it substance, it is also accompanied by the

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overwhelming burden of the body in pain, by a sense of excess of hurting esh, the second element in my reading of Scarrys account of pain. In the immediacy of pain, the world and the self disintegrate into nothingness, all one is left with is the presence of a body that hurts. One becomes trapped in a colossal mass of hurting esh falling endlessly down a dark abyss, in which everything one tries to hold on to, to reach to, to prevent the fall dissolves. Again, there are clear connections between the sense of excess of esh brought about by pain, and representations of womanhood. The image of womens bodies as monstrous has a long history in Christian and medical discourses representing women as excess of esh to be controlled and conned within the domestic space (Turner, 1996). This sense of excess can also be traced in womens own experiences of their body, and is epitomized in anorexic women trying to cut out their excess esh (Bordo, 1990; Malson, 1997). The experience of womanhood as an excess of abject esh inspiring horror and self-disgust has been a prominent theme in womens literature (e.g. Plath, 1971), feminist theory (e.g. Kristeva, 1982) and art (Betterton, 1996; Mulvey, 1991). Again the work of Cindy Sherman provides a powerful illustration; in Untitled # 175 (1987), the fetishized surfaces of the female body represented in the 1970s Untitled Film Stills give way to horror and disgust invoked by hurting esh and abject fragments of bodily matter. In these photographs, the interior of the female body is projected as a kind of lining of bodily disgust (Krauss, 1993: 192).
In a series of large colour photographs, Untitled, 19871991, Sherman reconstructs her own body in a monstrous anatomy, made up of the prosthetic parts or else fragments it in a waste of bodily uids, decaying food, vomit and slime. . . . Shermans device of using a mirror image of her face, a fragment of self-identity reected in a pair of sunglasses, reinforces the horror at seeing a disintegration of the self. (Betterton, 1996: 135)

Here symbolic strategies of fragmentation, evisceration and dismemberment are used to evoke the violence, disgust and body saturation of womanhood (Betterton, 1996). Womanhood is constituted through the sense of excess of esh, or corporeal engulfment, a sense that comes from a body that hurts and makes one shrink or reduce to the esh. Here femininity is not some unrepresented, invisible otherness but the all too present sense of excess of corporeality (Betterton, 1996), of a body that sticks. This contrasting imagery of womanhood as, on the one hand, empty of a self (immaterial) and, on the other, burdened by an excess of esh, also suggests that the sentience of the esh and the making of the self exist in inverse relationship; as Scarry (1985) suggests, pain reduces one to the sentience of the esh and unmakes the self. Making something of oneself involves extending into materials that lift us from the sentience (pain) of the body; or, as vividly expressed by an

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anorexic woman, to get an identity means to strip the esh: If I didnt have it [anorexia], if I wasnt thin I wouldnt have an identity. Id just be this big bad blob (quoted in Malson, 1997: 240). What is also evoked in these images of excess of esh, and what forms the third element of pain, is the abject. In pain, the body becomes an enormous vermin (Scarry, 1985), an abject and enslaving mass which binds to pain and nothing but pain. It is through the body that one hurts, it is the body that hurts. The body becomes a loathsome weight. Pain brings self-hatred, the hatred for a self that has been engulfed by and reduced to an abject body (Scarry, 1985). The experience of the body as a repulsive mass is another theme that comes up again and again in feminist theory and womens writing (e.g. Plath, 1971; Kristeva, 1982). In The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath (1963) paints images of the mother gure as cow-like, fat and unattractive, reduced to breeding and feeding children. But it is maybe in the anorexic gure that the repulsion and horror of the (female) esh is most vividly expressed (Malson, 1997):
Who, given the choice, would really opt to menstruate, invite the monthly haemorrhage a reminder that the body is nothing but a bag of blood, liable to seep or spatter at any moment. . . . One day I will be thin enough. Just the bones, no disguring esh, just the pure, clear shape of me. Bones. That is what we are, after all, what were made of, and everything else is storage, deposit, waste. Strip it away. (Shute, 1992; quoted in Malson, 1997: 239)

In the examples above, the female body, as the body in pain, is experienced as a vile and leaking bag of blood, a mass of esh that has to be stripped away. The foregoing discussion suggests that we could think of gendering as something involving the distribution of pain and embodiment. The constitution of woman through her effacement or immateriality (as illustrated earlier with the discussion of the gendered distribution of the self materials at work) involves a stripping of materials that count in the making of the self, a process of evisceration that is done and experienced in the body, and that hurts. By drawing on the symbolism of pain, I have suggested that becoming woman involves a sense of being emptied out and reduced to a mass of abject and seeping esh. Of course, the reduction of woman to bodies has long been recognized and denounced in feminist theory; images of women as the (sex) objects of the male gaze (e.g. Zoonen, 1994), or uncontrollable bodies unt for the rationality of the public domain (Acker, 1990; Martin, 1989) have been well documented. However, these images of women as bodies are often used to explore how women (already assumed to be turned into bodies or sex objects) are subjected to exclusion or subordination, a focus that ignores the pain and embodied experience of being reduced to a mass of esh. It is as if, by a sleight of hand, the pain and the embodied experience of immateriality the sense of emptiness and body excess

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were made to disappear, or didnt deserve our attention. This process of making the pain disappear is what I explore in the next section. The Appropriation of Pain: The Translation of Pain into Absence Scarry argues that pain not only destroys the world and the self, but also the word; pain is unshareable, inexpressible. This then raises questions about the politics involved in the representation of pain. Scarry draws our attention to the political consequences of pains inexpressibility by establishing connections between pain and power: the problem of pain is bound up with the problem of power (1985: 12). The resistance of pain to verbal objectication or representation not only means that pain will never get as much political visibility as problems that can be articulated,9 but also that attempts to represent pain often draw upon the language of analogy and agency: the agency of the weapon that serves, or is imagined, to inict the pain. People often describe pain in terms of the agency of weapons; the pain is as if a hammer was coming down on the spine (Scarry, 1985: 5). The experience of pain becomes translated into the action of the weapon; the pain of the spine is represented in terms of the action of the hammer. As Scarry notes, this language of agency is a double-edged sword for, on the one hand, it serves to bring forth the pain, to make it visible and hence (possibly) to elicit support and attention. However, it also serves to displace the pain and transfer its power, presence and immediacy to the weapon. It is no longer the spine that hurts but the hammer that bangs. Thus embodied physical pain dissolves as its attributes are used to express power. The process of making pain visible, of re-presenting pain, lifts the pain away from the human body and attaches its totality, certainty and incontestable reality to something else, to the weapon that inicts the pain. Verbal representation serves to translate pain into the insignia of power, and to deny the suffering body a claim to pain. To me there is a clear parallel between Scarrys (1985) analysis of the political effects of representing pain through the language of weapon and agency, and the representation of womens discrimination or oppression in terms of gender mechanisms, the power of patriarchal institutions and ideology. On the one hand, talking about gender mechanisms has made womens oppression visible, and has raised it on the public agenda as a phenomenon calling for attention and action. On the other hand, these representations of womens suffering in terms of gendered structures and mechanisms (such as, for example, glass ceiling, sexual harassment, the gendered construction of skills, of organizational cultures and structures) have eclipsed the embodied experience of suffering, of pain, and lent the attributes of pain to the power of gender machines or men. Thus suffering has become disembodied and abstracted, unless one imagines a face repeatedly

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smashing into a glass ceiling, or a body shred to pieces as it goes through gendered mechanisms. As Scarry (1985) argues in the context of torture, verbal representations of pain operate a series of translations and inversions. Thus what at the physical level is the presence of pain for the tortured and an absence of pain for the torturer becomes translated into a verbal system of differences which inverts presence and absence: the absence of pain becomes the presence of world, self and power; while the presence of pain becomes an absence of world and self. The pain can no longer be claimed as the sufferers for its translation into power has made it disappear: Pain is denied as pain and read as power (Scarry, 1985: 45). Kappeler (1997) makes a similar point when she argues that the translation/representation of womens oppression in terms of absence involves a violent reframing of the other in terms of lack. Thus the problem of the embodied presence of pain becomes translated into a problem of absence, of lack (e.g. of voice, self, skills), a problem that can seemingly be rectified through inclusionary practices such as issuing invitations to join or giving voice. However, these inclusionary practices assume that the problem of oppression is one of exclusion (or absence), when it may be as appropriately seen as one of inclusion (or painful presence), inclusion as something small and insignificant, not counting (Kappeler, 1997). I will return to the problems attached to in-clusionary practices and reaching out to the other in the final section of the article, but first I discuss how the pain of womanhood analysed in this section serves to substantiate, or flesh out gender. Womens Hurting Flesh and the Substantiation of Gender The position from which I started this article is one anchored in post-structuralist feminism according to which gender is performed (rather than given), and is performed through inscriptions on the body (e.g. Butler, 1993). What I have argued in the article is that this work of inscription hurts. Being constituted as woman involves being gutted out of materials, and being immaterial is painful; following Scarry (1985), I have proposed to apprehend this pain in terms of a sense of being reduced to nothing but the body, the sentience of the esh. In this nal section, I want to argue that not only does gendering work through pain, but that pain also serves to substantiate the idea of gender. Here again, I draw upon Scarrys (1985) work, and in particular, on her argument concerning the reality-conferring function of the hurting esh. Saying that gender is performative is not to say that it is not real; for gender is made real, is substantiated through material violence and brutality (Feder and

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Zakin, 1997), through, I will argue, the wounding of womens bodies whose esh can be drafted into making real the idea of gender. Although the (sexed) body is not natural (or biologically given), it cannot be reduced to a blueprint of cultural encodings and artefacts, for the body has the potentiality for sentience, for pain and death, even if the ways in which pain and death are experienced and represented are culturally mediated. As Eve/Evelyn, the main character in Angela Carters (1982: 50) The Passion of New Eve, exclaims after her/his forced sex-change operation: I am not natural, you know even though, if you cut me I will bleed. And it is the ability of the body to bleed and to hurt when it bleeds that makes for its reality conferring function (Scarry, 1985). The body, its mass of esh, its sentience, pain, bleeding, provides a source of reality. The esh of the wounded body has a vivid and compelling reality (the presence, certainty, immediacy and totality of pain) that can be drafted into the substantiation of ideas. However, the hurting esh can only lend its reality or materiality to ideas because of its referential instability (Scarry, 1985); pain has no external referent. Unlike other states of consciousness, it is not for or about something. The referential instability of pain, its lack of attachment to anything, means that its reality and totality can be re-appropriated to give substance to ideas:
Injured bodies are emptied of their meanings and appropriated as containers of other verbal constructs, in the process the pain is also appropriated. (Scarry, 1985: 139)

Injuring provides, by its massive opening of human bodies, a way of connecting disembodied beliefs or ideas with the force and power of the material world (the esh). Substantiation or making real involves the disassemblage and reassemblage of bodies and ideas; injured bodies are emptied of meaning (severed of connections to materials that would ll in the self with meaning) and juxtaposed to beliefs or ideas to lend them materiality. Juxtaposing a wounded body with an idea bestows the force of the material world on the ideational:
The body tends to be brought forward in its most extreme and absolute form only on behalf of a cultural artefact or symbolic fragment . . . that is without any other basis in material reality: that is, it is only brought forward when there is a crisis in substantiation. (1985: 127)

Similarly, the cultural construction of gender needs to be grounded or sedimented in material reality, and I suggest that it is substantiated by being crafted on womens hurting esh. So gender is inscribed on womens bodies but it can only be crafted onto womens bodies through injuring, through pain, through emptying these bodies of meanings. As Scarrys quote above suggests, it is empty bodies that act as containers of ideas, bodies that have been eviscerated, or severed from connections or attachments to materials that give meanings to the self. It is

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through its prior injuring (and pain) that the womans body can act as the container of the idea of gender. So not only does womanhood hurt, but womens pain and hurting esh also gets enrolled in the (re)production of gender. Maybe we could think about gendering as a process of mass production (Cooper, 1995), a production of mass of esh that lends its weight to the idea of gender. Gendering, like mass production, involves a process of disassembling (emptying or gutting out the body of material that counts in the project of the self; detaching the pain from the body) and re-assembling materials (attaching the esh of the hurting body to the idea of gender). By talking about the making up of gender out of womens scarred bodies and hurting esh, I am not suggesting that pain forms the essence of womanhood, for, as I suggested earlier, pain has no external referent (and thus cannot form the essence of anything), and woman has no essence. Pain and injured bodies are uid in terms of their referentiality and have no inherent connection to the ideas they serve to substantiate (Scarry, 1985). Womens hurting esh does not in itself mark womanhood; but precisely because of its referential instability, it can be drafted into the substantiation of the idea of gender. Epilogue: Why Delve into the Pain? My aim in this article has been to delve into the pain and violence of gender, not as an exercise in masochism, but to suggest that pain and violence are central to making real or eshing out gender. My concern has been to bring forth the hurting esh by drawing attention to the fact that gender mechanisms cannot exercise their power, cannot do their work of gendering and inscription without some bodies going through the machinery, and being shredded into pieces of abject esh as they do so. I wanted to apprehend a eshed and sentient body, rather than an abstract and passive body, reduced to text or bearer of inscriptions; bodies get enrolled in the production of gender not simply as materials to be written upon but also as mass of hurting esh. In this nal section, I would like, rst, to put the pain into perspective and, second, to outline some of the possibilities for emancipatory politics that are opened up by exploring womanhood through the symbolism of pain. First, by attempting to connect pain and womanhood, I am not suggesting that there is some relation of equivalence between them so that one saturates the other. The pain of immateriality, and the related sense of excess (of esh) and emptiness (of self), are better seen as forming some of the conditions of experience of womanhood than as determining or saturating it. Pain does not saturate womanhood and womanhood does not saturate the self. Womanhood (or manhood)

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is a transient and eeting experience, sometimes (maybe most of the time) effaced by the immediacy of other divisions (e.g. racial, sexual, class, occupations) or of the moment; or, as Riley (1988) suggests, being woman is only ever a part-time occupation. One is not just ones gender, even if gender lters the resources for selfhood. The self is inscribed and negotiated across different discourses and practices, or networks, leading to multiple (and sometimes conicting) identities (Charles and Davies, 1997; Star, 1991). By talking about womanhood I have only attended to one (maybe important, maybe not, but difcult to escape) among a multiplicity of possibilities for identity; furthermore, by talking about the pain of womanhood, I have only explored one (sometimes overwhelming, maybe at other times obliterated) of many ways in which womanhood may be experienced. Thus, by suggesting that the pain of womens bodies serves to substantiate the idea of gender, I am not claiming that being woman is reduced to being in pain. Second, if my main concern throughout the article was to expose pain, in this nal section, I want briey to explore the implications of eshing out gender for emancipatory politics. If femininity is not some repressed, un-represented otherness but the all too present sense of excess of hurting esh and corporeality, then the idea of re-appropriating and celebrating the womans body (as advocated by some radical feminists e.g. Daly, 1984) does not appear to be particularly liberating, for it assumes that there is an authentic womans body, unmarked by the regulatory practices of gender, that we can seek to unveil. But, as I have suggested in this article, there can be no authentic womans body that is not already marked by the violence and pain of gender. The womans body, if already constituted as woman, is already marked and injured. Celebrating the feminine body does little to challenge or subvert the symbolic order that posits a (hierarchical) dualism between (female) body and (male) self, and that constitutes and reproduces gender identity through injuring womens bodies. If we are to remain within this gendered dualism, it would seem more empowering (in a limited sense) to escape from the body, to strip the enslaving and hurting excess of (female) esh that engulfs the self, and to get an identity (as the anorexic women we encountered earlier suggested)10 than to embrace the female body. Furthermore, apprehending womanhood in terms of an excess of hurting esh, rather than in terms of otherness, lack or absence, highlights the problems attached to inclusionary strategies of giving voice. As I suggested earlier, the problem of womens oppression is often represented in terms of effacement, absence, lack of voice or silence (e.g. Harlow et al., 1995), a problem that presumably could be solved by giving voice or issuing an invitation to join. However, such representations of the other as excluded or absent ignore the embodied

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presence of pain. The problems associated with the strategy of giving voice to the other characteristic of liberal democracy have been well documented (Lee and Brown, 1994; Kappeler, 1997; Wilkinson and Kitzinger, 1996). The discourses of inclusion and giving voice suggest that someone is in possession of voice (or of a place from which to issue invitations) and in a position to offer it to the other as a gift, a gift for which the other should be grateful (Kappeler, 1997); it also assumes that the other wants voice. Moreover, the liberal discourse of love of the other, togetherness and reaching out to the other in the gift of voice, implies a colonization of the other and a universalization of the dominant discourse in the name of democracy, freedom and equality, all adding weight to the justice and morality of such a project (Kappeler, 1997; Lee and Brown, 1994). Talking about the pain and violence of otherness highlights a further problem with the inclusionary strategy of giving voice: if pain is resistant to verbalization it is unlikely to gush forth or be alleviated through voice; pain is more likely to be eclipsed than exposed by voice. What is the point of giving a voice to a mass of hurting esh that cannot speak? Thus both liberal strategies based on the principles of equality and inclusion, and radical strategies based on the celebration of womens embodied difference, seem to be ineffective in that they reproduce the gender dualism that sustains, and is sustained through, womens pain. As other feminist writers have noted (Sargisson, 1996), the liberal discourse of equality, the radical discourse of difference, and the debate between the two reduce the possibilities for emancipation to a question of womens positioning within a masculinist discursive order as both equality and difference are articulated in terms of a gendered dualism between (male) self and (female) body. Not only does this make for a limited number of avenues for emancipation, but it also fails to address the embodied pain of womanhood, the crafting of gender identity on womens bodies. If gender is reproduced through womens pain and womens pain is reproduced through gender (the constitution of woman as the opposite of man), then it seems that, to address the pain, we need to break away from the dualism of gender, to dissolve gender into multiple sexual possibilities, or redene it beyond the two categories of man and woman so that woman can be something other than noman (Braidotti, 1989), and difference, identity and bodies can be re-imagined away from the gender binary. This escape from the gender order has often been symbolized by the lesbian body as occupying a space that is elsewhere. For many feminist writers of different theoretical traditions (e.g. Irigaray, Kristeva, Wittig), the lesbian identity constitutes a utopic space that is situated outside the gendered cultural order and, by virtue of its exteriority, is potentially emancipatory (Jagose, 1994). For example, for Wittig (1973) the lesbian body constitutes a

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third term beyond gender binarism; it marks a utopic space that is essentially transgressive of the gender order, for the lesbian is not a woman. However, Jagose pertinently exposes the problematic nature of lesbian utopics, or of the search for a space outside gender. By drawing upon Foucaults conceptualization of power as both repressive and productive of identity, Jagose argues that the gure of the lesbian is not outside and independent of (but repressed by) the gender order; rather its exteriority depends on its relations to the gender binarism and is constituted by it. Thus celebrating the emancipatory potential of lesbianism is ambivalent, for it serves both to disrupt and to reproduce the gender order. Furthermore, foregrounding lesbian identity as emancipatory reproduces the problematic essentialism involved in foregrounding the category of woman as a rallying ground for emancipatory politics. It essentializes the gure of the lesbian as a natural, authentic and pre-cultural space existing independently of gendered discourse. As post-structuralist feminists have argued (e.g. Butler, 1990), celebrating the gure of woman or lesbian serves to exclude or colonize difference by assuming homogeneity among these categories. Thus even attempts to pluralize woman by including difference serve to increase the strength and hold of this category rather than destabilize and disrupt it (Jagose, 1994). Following Butler (1990) and post-structuralist feminism more generally, Jagose (1994) argues that instead of searching for the holy grail of an elusive and problematic utopic space beyond gender (e.g. escaping the gender order by reclaiming an authentic and pre-discursive womans body, or foregrounding the lesbian identity), it may be more productive to attend to the construction of gender as an effect. Gender identity can only be destabilized by attending to its constitution, by establishing as political the very terms through which it is constituted (Butler, 1990). Understanding how the body is enrolled in the work of gendering is in itself a political act, for it serves to disrupt and destabilize the taken-for-grantedness of gender identity. In this respect, the current article is clearly inscribed within the post-structuralist project of denaturalizing gender by attending to its constitution and inscription on the body. Where it departs from the work of poststructuralist feminists such as Butler is by suggesting that the body is enrolled in the making up of gender not just as text but also as esh and sentience. By eshing out gender the aim was not to naturalize it but rather to further unsettle the gendered body, and to point out that even pain and esh are political effects open to destabilization. Notes
I am grateful to the two anonymous reviewers, as well as to Martin Parker, Simon Lilley and Mihaela Kelemen for their thoughtful comments on an earlier version of this paper.

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1. In her book on Women in Pain, Finkler (1994) illustrates her arguments with the examples of Mexico, where women are caught between the ideal of romantic love and the reality of living with a husband who keeps several wives. 2. I follow Butler (1990) in refusing to go along with the distinction between gender as socially or culturally constructed, and sex as biologically given body differences. I see both gender and sex as produced through regulatory practices or inscriptions on the body and will thus not distinguish between the two terms. 3. As Turner (1996) notes, this is a critique which could be more generally applied to radical deconstructionist feminism (e.g. Butler, 1993) for such an approach is not concerned with the lived in body, or the phenomenology of embodied experiences, but the positioning of bodies in discursive structures. By insisting that sex or gender are normative practices (rather than biological products), these approaches have left behind the lived experience of embodiment (Matisons, 1998; Ussher, 1997) and, in particular, of pain and suffering (Csordas, 1994). Here I agree with Turner that this focus on positioning makes the lived body disappear. Although I do not see bodies as being naturally sexed, or as mere biological products, I want to hold on to the idea of a body which, if not naturally marked as anything, does have the potentiality or capacity for sentience and, in particular, pain. 4. Images of evisceration and disembowelment are commonly used symbolic strategies in feminist art (Betterton, 1996). Cindy Shermans Untitled # 175 (1987) discussed later in the article depicting body fragments scattered on a surface of body wastes, and Kiki Smiths skinned body in Virgin Mary (1992) are poignant illustrations. 5. And as Swanns (1997) work on PMS suggests, even when women feel violent, this violence is translated into womens disorders by the medical discourse of PMS. Thus women cannot appropriate violence for their violence is read as a manifestation of their pathological bodies, a reading that serves to trivialize and depoliticize womens violence. 6. Here I talk about those marked as men and those marked as women for if we follow the point on relational materiality made by ANT, we cannot assume that gender is already naturally given and somehow regulates the distribution of materials. Gender needs to be seen as being itself a relational effect, the product of the assemblage of materials (Singleton, 1996). There is no space here to develop this but I would like to point to Tierneys (1995) study for an excellent example of the making up of the lads around beer, football and pubs. What studies such as Tierneys (1995) or Morgans (1992) suggest is that masculinity and femininity (the assignment and performance of man/woman) do not necessarily equate with man or woman body, but are discursively constituted modes of being (Kerfoot and Knights, 1998: 8), relational effects performed through textual and material practices. Thus not all men are men, some are lesser men than others; and some women may qualify as one of the boys or honorary men by participating in mens social activities or demonstrating their ability to take it (Collinson and Collinson, 1997; Thomas, 1996). Man becomes man, and woman becomes woman only by being performed or marked as such. In the remainder of the article, I will use the term man and woman as a shorthand for those marked as man and those marked as woman. 7. Of course all subject positions are ultimately precarious and undecidable; however, some are made of more stable and solid materials than others. 8. Thus it should be clear that by talking about womanhood in terms of immateriality and gutting out, I am not implying that some feminine core or essence is crushed or suppressed, but rather that nothingness the denial of possibility for making something of oneself is one of the conditions of existence/experience of womanhood. 9. Here Scarry (1985) notes that in accounts of war or torture, the pain of the injured, mutilated or dead bodies is often made to disappear through the use of a language of tactics, strategy or motives. 10. The stripping of the esh, or disembodiment, could maybe take less destructive forms than anorexia. For example, some feminist writers have discussed the emancipatory possibilities opened up by virtual reality (Balsamo, 1997).

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