Subversions of fertility:menstrual blood, breast milk and 'feminised' food in feminist philosophy, literature and art 1960-2000

Hamasaki, Fumina (2020) Subversions of fertility:menstrual blood, breast milk and 'feminised' food in feminist philosophy, literature and art 1960-2000. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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Drawing upon an extensive selection of feminist philosophical, literary and visual texts from the 1960s to the 2000s, this thesis explores the widespread representation of menstrual blood, breast milk and ‘feminised’ foodstuffs (such as eggs, milk and other dairy products) as part of a radical counter-discourse to (carno-)phallogocentrism and androcentric capitalism. It argues that they form a subversive means of interrogating (masculine) ontological ‘being’ which – as proposed by Luce Irigaray in Speculum of the Other Woman and other early texts – sustains itself by expelling the female (reproductive) body as the constitutive ‘other’ in Western discourse. My investigation focuses, specifically, on the feminist strategy that I have termed subversions of fertility through its exploration of the techniques of parody, exaggeration and mimicry deployed by writers and artists in order to expose the masculine subject’s paradoxical negation of, yet dependence on, the ‘excessive feminine’ (as formulated by Judith Butler in Bodies That Matter). Following a theoretical Introduction, this thesis is developed across four chapters which draw upon these wide-ranging feminist texts in order to demonstrate the different ways in which women have been subordinated – i.e., othering, consumption, (domestic) imprisonment, and commodification – and the techniques writers and artists devised to radically subvert their positioning. It investigates how feminist texts practice ‘subversions of fertility’ and question the system of (carno-)phallogocentrism and androcentric capitalism, both of which consume the female reproductive body. In terms of recent debates in feminist scholarship, this thesis takes its place alongside a number of important publications on the ‘revisioning’ of second-wave feminism and feminist historiography by scholars working across gender and women’s studies, literary and cultural theory and feminist art history by analysing how feminist texts from the 1960s to the 1970s critically question patriarchal oppressions in ways that are still relevant today. By shedding new light on many still inadequately understood literary and visual texts from this period, the thesis aims to highlight how writers and artists’ radical and subversive messages and techniques anticipated Jacques Derrida’s work on food and carno-phallogocentrism by almost twenty years.

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28 Apr 2020 15:20
Last Modified:
21 Sep 2023 03:33