Today's women's studies' seminar - "Technology, Gender, Embodiment" - dealt with male fluids, the male abject, and the (white, able-bodied, heterosexual) male discomfort with their own leakiness. Of course we had to speak in generalizations for the sake of clarity; I know and have known men who are more or less comfortable with such things. But this is a topic that, in my opinion, is vastly under-theorized and extremely important - not only because it provides a more rich understanding of how female bodies are typically signified as "abject," but because it allows a certain queering of the "male." This is one reason I shirk away from programs entitled things like "women's studies" rather than "gender studies" - both binary stereotypes should be reassessed and re-theorized. Why not? The title "women's studies" also suggests that it is primarily the role/interest of women to redefine or challenge gender - and I don't think that this is the case anymore. Nor should it be supposed that only women or "othered" sexualities have a stake in these topics. Everybody does, or should.
In any case - one of the main topics brought up in the readings is the fear of contamination between men, of seminal fluids, and others - [heterosexual] men didn't want to talk about their semen or come into contact with other men's semen, and the possibility sparked tons of "humorous" comments not-so-subtly tinged with homophobia. When I refer to "the men" here, I'm specifically referring to the men who were interviewed for a series of case studies conducted by scholar Robyn Longhurst, particularly in her book "Fluid Bodies." In any case - men were only comfortable talking about solid excretions (shit, shaving), and not fluid excretions, unless of course the latter was either 1) sexualized, made to demonstrate virility in some way or 2) made into a joke. Heaven forbid the tightly sealed universal subject becomes obscured by its own (particular) decay, by its own proclivity to "leaking." Leaks, excretions, anything "abject" produces anxiety in [heterosexual] men because male bodies are produced as functional, social bodies, rather than as sites of pleasure. The desire to control these flows suggests a desire to maintain control over one's body, social position, as well as ones own desire - leaks are "feminized" - and therefore, must be suppressed.
One of the more interesting theories (Elizabeth Grosz's) is that straight men see themselves as active "givers" of fluid, rather than as passive "receptacles." Thus, flows between men are terrifying, not only because they threaten the self-contained "hardness" of the masculine, but because the vertical hierarchy of giver/receiver, passive/active is obstructed and replaced by circuitous flows (or what Deleuze and Guattari or Kristeva call heterogeneous flows). Desire is "queered" when it is transferred from a Deleuzian "striated space" to that of a "smooth space," or plateau.
In any case - interesting topic, and one that I will probably return to while researching for my thesis.
I've kind of abandoned this blog because it feels trivial, and I am busy. I've been in a good place. My brain feels full and I have come to terms with where I'm going - for my thesis I'm probably going to focus on virtual and material (sexual/gendered) prostheses, particularly in relation to queering desire and subjectivity. I have a shit-ton of Deleuze to read, basically.
Back to reading - Shopenhauer (sp?) and Schelling, McLuhan and Baudrillard.