Searching within a female body for the one beyond control
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Searching Within a Female Body for the One Beyond Control. Texts: The Female Body Holy. Tentative Thesis.

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Tentative Thesis

  • Atwood satirizes the way how the female body is treated differently from the male one and insinuates a possible escape from women to get away from men’s control is through her power within, like the speaker in Holy that searches for the purity and a serene sense of self even though the cost is her life.


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Margaret Atwood’s The Female Body

  • A practical and useful female body

    (1+2+3+4)

  • A female body attached with items that define femininity (2+4)

  • The objectified female body (5+4+3)

  • The body which is biologically different from the male body (3+6+7)


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A practical and useful female body

  • Body is like a machine

    • A machine that works without a break (p.40-1)

    • A machine with a reproductive system (p. 41-3)

  • Female body as a model

    • A model of discipline (p. 40-2, 41-4, 42-4)

    • A model of biological function (p. 41-3)

    • A model that gives definition of femininity

      (p. 40-2, 41-3, 42-4)


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A female body attached with items that define femininity

  • The female body that is to be trained

    • Accessories used to “normalize” women into disciplined one that fits the society and the definition of “femininity”

    • The image of an idealized woman been miniaturized so as to cultivate the young generation and carry on the traditional and cultural definition of femininity

  • The female body that is taught to bear sexual implication


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The objectified female body

  • The female body being objectified

    • as a biology mannequin whose body parts can be taken away, learned from

    • as some token and symbol (p. 43-5 1st paragraph)

    • becomes exchangeable item (p. 43-5 3rd paragraph)

  • The biology mannequin indicates similar body structure between man and woman

    • implying the equality between both sexes?


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The body which is biologically different from the male body

  • There is difference, but not much

    • The removable productive system

    • Biological structure of brain

  • The binary opposition of chromosome pairs

  • Biological difference might be over-emphasized

    • Irony

    • Historical conception of opposition: men are reasonable, rational and objective whereas women are unreasonable, emotional and perhaps subjective


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The body which is biologically different from the male body

  • A bound body but a free mind – is it possible?

    • Women are expected to be domestic, be bound, disciplined and controllable

    • Though body being bound, her imagination and mind could be uncontrollable.


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Holy by The Golden Palominos

  • The concept of “holy anorexia”

  • Sense of serenity, purity and essence

  • Free from want, free from need, free from fear

  • Free from judgment, ideology and authoritative instruction


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The concept of “holy anorexia”

  • A religious asceticism which was especially performed in the later middle ages.

  • Margery Kempe and St. Catherine of Siena

  • “self-starvation offered both a renunciation of the ties of kinship and marriage and a route to mystical union with God” (Benson 137).

  • “[S]tarvation is framed by a religious discourse which permitted these women to redefine the mortification of the flesh” (138).


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Sense of serenity, purity and essence

  • The speaker is detached from the material world

    • She is transcendent to the fear of death

    • She passes only by water, sleep and air

    • She feels herself being purified like water

  • The speaker communicate only with the self that she ascertains her own existence through the mirrors.

    • Image in the mirrors: formation of her sense of self


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Free from want, free from need, free from fear

  • She lives off the parts of herself and throws out things that she doesn’t need anymore

  • Body becomes the church and the temples where she stays inside.

  • She is not afraid of pain or other threat

    • She is the source of power; she is the master of her body


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Free from judgment, ideology and authoritative instruction

  • As a self-mastery anorexic, the speaker is not affected by the ideology of beauty

  • She imagines people’s judgment and opinions on her would remain a doubt whereas she herself knows the answer of herself dying form anorexia.

  • She wonders what the actresses that play the role of her would feel.


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Questions

  • In Atwood’s The Female Body

    • In Part 2, why does Atwood include “bed” and “head” in the accessories of the basic female body?

    • In Part 4, why does the male speaker concludes, “I guess we’re safe”? What do you think the girl is like?

    • In Part 5, the 3rd paragraph, what does that “it” mean?

    • In Part 7, do you think Atwood suggests that female body is abusable and manageable?


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Questions

  • In Holy

    • When the speaker says, “this is my greatest performance,” who do you think she is addressing to? To whom is the performance showing?

    • Is that God the speaker mentions the male omniscient God with authority indicated in Bible?

    • In the last part of the lyrics, where do you think the speaker is going to as she mentions that “I’ll go outside”?


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