- Jul 2020
By honoring the mammae as sign and symbol of the highest class ofanimals, Linnaeus assigned a new value to the female, especially women’s unique rolein reproduction
Throughout the multiple texts, utilized human-parts place specified bodies within social constructions, given limits of autonomy dependent on close monitoring by superiors. Kirkup and Schiebinger reflect on the Womxn’s breasts dictating the taxonomy of humans as mammalia--”a study of breasts." We see this era uplifted the sacredness of milk and the role of women’s reproduction, whilst stationing them closer to “beasts” than men, and assigning women to domesticity.
Breasts as parts, natural tools embedded in the female body, parallels the seemingly hopeful outlook on this developing Cyborg body’s own parts, but these parts remain observed and reduced to science--a socially constructed pyramid falsely dubbed as standardized and empirical--determining the value and humanity of minorities. The parts of the female and POC body do not grant the bearer their autonomy, but rather outside scrutiny and oversight.
We established mid 20th-century authors dubbed living beings as very complex machines, and question "are humans machines?"--can we break down the human/machine boundary by referring the symbol of breasts as also a mechanized part? I feel through Haraway's Cyborg we can, as rough as it feels to conceptualize breasts as another gear/customization.
on a stage two feet high, along which she was led by her keeper, and exhibited like awild beast; being obliged to walk, stand, or sit as he ordered her.”6
African women’s breasts are dubbed “beastly,” “pendulous” (Schiebinger 26)--using breasts and vaginal physical traits as a determinism to rank women by race. As Saartjie Bartman’s naked body is exhibited an object--reminding of a modern tech convention putting foreign car parts on a pedestal--the male scientific gaze is further scrutinizing and classifying womxn by parts.
Thus the eyes of the male gaze are the male scientists, carried down to the audience’s white curiosity--the circus scene is disquieting. Further investigation of her body only continues to stretch the spectacle of Saartjie Baartman, exhibited like colonized art within museum, even as a corpse.
reast shapes amonghumans
The mathematical, geometric breakdown of the breast's shape feels uncomfortable like an engineer's diagram--dictating its value by diameter. This continues my thought that body parts are observed as machine parts under the male and scientific gaze.