Minding the Body

Minding the Body

by Patricia Foster
     
 

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Growing up in the Deep South in the late 1950s, writer Patricia Foster was taught that a woman's body was her way of speaking her worth: restricted linguistically and sexually, women were to dress appropriately and decoratively and act like ladies at all times. When, in 1986, Foster returned to the South to teach a course in women's literature at a state university,…  See more details below

Overview

Growing up in the Deep South in the late 1950s, writer Patricia Foster was taught that a woman's body was her way of speaking her worth: restricted linguistically and sexually, women were to dress appropriately and decoratively and act like ladies at all times. When, in 1986, Foster returned to the South to teach a course in women's literature at a state university, she was amazed at the dissatisfaction young women felt about their bodies - even after the women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s turned gender expectations upside down. "I'd rather have five pounds off my thighs than an A in this class," one woman confessed, and others agreed. Given the choice between mental stimulus and physical perfection, most students said they would choose the latter. How and why, Foster wondered, had women returned to such a fragile status? Minding the Body, a provocative collection of fiction and nonfiction by acclaimed women writers, addresses this question and others stemming from the complex and peculiar relationship women have with their bodies. The narratives in this anthology - from writers as diverse as Naomi Wolf, Rosemary Bray, Margaret Atwood, Hanan al-Shaykh, and Kathryn Harrison - address the psychological and political aspects of a woman's body in today's culture. In "Out of Habit, I Start Apologizing," Pam Houston celebrates the strong female body; Janet Burroway explores the older woman's sense of desire/eroticism in "Changes"; and Judith Ortiz Cofer's "The Story of My Body" looks at the Puerto Rican girl's coming-of-age in America and her comparison of her body to that of the Caucasian girl. Combining some of the best voices in contemporary women's literature with a subject of eternal interest - some might even say obsession - Minding the Body is important and much-needed reading for women who seek to understand the relationship between their physical and emotional selves.

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Editorial Reviews

Whitney Scott
The era of birth control pills and legalized abortions is a golden age of freedom compared with our grandmothers' times. Yet, as this collection of fiction and nonfiction suggests, many women's relationships to their bodies are complex and sometimes baffling. So many women hate their bodies, often as a manifestation of a media-influenced body consciousness that exalts a narrow range of physical proportions including ultraslender hips and large breasts. The same media that facilitate such self-loathing also minutely document excessive forms of body awareness (anorexia, bulimia, purging), although rarely the complicated interplay of thoughts and emotions that exacerbates those conditions. The writings at hand generally dissect women's obsessions with media-manufactured body ideals that turn women's bodies into sexual bargaining chips. As they do, they bring new meaning to the notion of selling and being sold and to the term "sexual politics".

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385470223
Publisher:
The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/01/1994
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
336

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