After recently hearing Cornell West rap about Socratic energy (living an unexamined life is not worth living) and deodorized discourse (we aren’t talking about the issues; we’re covering up the funk, the bruises), I am hypersensitive to the cover up. There was such hope for this new decade but we find ourselves mired in factional dichotomies paralyzed at the nexus of change. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before …
In the war on words with its battlefields littered with broken compromises, there are no coherent winners. Our stories are false and shallow.
In the book, Bodies of Knowledge: Sexuality, Reproduction, and Women’s Health in the Second Wave, Wendy Kline exposes the battle lines around women’s knowledge of their own bodies. She quotes sociologist Kathy Davis, “it was the method of knowledge sharing and not a shared identity as women which appeared to have a global appeal” for Our Bodies, Ourselves, the seminal catalyst for the women’s health movement. Bodies of Knowledge is an interesting exploration into who owns authentic knowledge and what Kline describes as “the inherent tension between two equally valid truths: the singularity of being female and the plurality of individual experiences among women.” (emphasis added) Klein outlines how the “personal is political” was implemented and eventually institutionalized for better or worse, neither side having a clear victory. The point was made more than once that the false paradox of body and brain, after all most of us have both, is outdated at best and divisive at worst.
Was the “personal as political” or DIY health care scalable? And if not, is that a such a bad thing? Why this need to always go global? Localizing and authenticating your epistemological standpoint within critically examined experiences might actually be worth the engagement and collateral damage. It’s the sharing of those authentic experiences that just may be the missing praxis. A symphony of critical voices who are just as fine operating within the system as around it is a worthy goal that’s often overlooked as a viable vehicle for living one’s life. Of course that shouldn’t be the only strategy for social change but it certainly sounds better than the current chorus.
As access to abortion becomes more and more difficult for the “average” woman, those of us on the body side [choice] find ourselves weary from using the master’s tools. Jane where for art thou?