This is a collection of links, essays,
and whatever else I can find about the
human body and people's attitudes toward it. I'm fascinated by
all of the topics listed here, especially the history of the body and of
sexuality. Some of the material linked here may be considered "indecent"
where you live, so you've been warned. If you're here so you can find
stuff to shock my mother, don't bother. She knows what's here.
Renaissance notions of the body
We have a better understanding of the human body and how it works
than ever before, but we've still got a long way to go. For an
overview of the Renaissance notion of the female anatomy, consider
a summary that I wrote of articles by
Ian Maclean and Thomas Laqueur, historians with a great interest
in the history of anatomy. Laqueur is especially instructive on
this topic; I recommend his books The Making of the Modern
Body, a collection of essays that he edited in collaboration
with Catherine Gallagher, and Making Sex.
Making Sex is
reviewed by Meryl Altman and Keith Wightenhelser of DePauw University
in the Journal of Postmodern Culture.
Current scientific inquiry
Visible Human Project is an immense collection of images of
very thin slices of the body of an executed convict. This project,
although the notion of it gives me the shudders, is perhaps one of
the best opportunities yet to learn about the human body. There
is a Java applet called the
NPAC Visible Human Viewer that makes looking at this project
easier. There's also a site called Marching through
the Visible Woman, about slices of a 59-year-old woman who gave
her body to science.
Nudity is not something to be ashamed of, it's something to enjoy. Nudity
does not equal sex. (Sex is nothing to be ashamed of, either.) We can
hide our bodies, turn them into taboos, try to ignore them, mistreat them,
obsess about them, or accept them and even be happy with them. I know which
I'd rather do.
These are links to sites that explore a number of aspects of body
shape and size, including the differences in shape that usually
clue us in to whether someone is male or female. As you explore,
ask yourself the following questions: does shape matter? Does
There's not much here, because BME is so comprehensive that anything I'd
do on this page (besides, of course, a picture
of my one and only below-the-neck body modification, so far) would be
reinventing the wheel.
The Massage and Bodywork
Resource Center offers a great deal of free information about
bodywork, including how to determine what kind of massage or other
therapy might be best for you, and how to choose a therapist.
There's also a page for the Rolf Institute, describing Rolfing and its effects on the body.
And James Clay maintains
An Illustrated Guide to Muscles & Medical Massage Therapy, which
The only unnatural sex act is that which you cannot perform.
It is a characteristic of the human mind that it tries
to dichotomize in its classification of phenomena. Things either are
so, or they are not so. Sexual behavior is either normal or abnormal,
acceptable or unacceptable, heterosexual or homosexual; and many
persons do not want to believe that there are gradations in these
matters from one to the other extreme.
-- Kinsey, 1953
Being a sex radical means being defiant as well as deviant.
It means being aware that there is something dissatisfying and dishonest
about the way sex is talked about (or hidden) in daily life. It also
means questioning the way our society assigns privilege based on adherence
to its moral codes, and in fact makes every sexual choice a matter of
morality. If you believe that these inequities can be addressed only
through extreme social change, then you qualify as a sex radical, even if
you prefer to get off in the missionary position and still believe there
are only two genders.
-- Pat Califia, Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex
- The Society for Human
- The Kinsey Institute
for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction.
- Justin's Prurience Page.
- Gender and sexuality from the
- The Body Politic.
- Maya's sex
page, a thoughtful and annotated collection of links.
- The Safer Sex
Page -- includes a section on Condoms and Latex.
- The Queer Resources
- The Bisexual Resource
- The Coalition for
Positive Sexuality: Sex Ed for Teens.
- Sexuality - resources for play.
- Susie Bright's Web site.
Susie Bright, if you haven't heard of her, is a funny, articulate,
smart, strongly pro-sex feminist. She's pretty great.
- Pat Califia's Forty-Two Things
You Can Do to Make the Future Safe for Sex.
- Annie Sprinkle's
home page. Annie used to be a porn star and a prostitute; now she
calls herself a "sex guru." She's awfully flaky, but she does do some
great stuff, like the Post-Modern Pinup playing cards.
Books I recommend about the human body:
- Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body. A novel
written from the perspective of a narrator (whose gender is never
identified) watching his? her? female lover die of cancer. Absolutely
breathtaking. There's an excerpt in the
Internet Book Information Center's Commonplace Book that gives an
idea of how amazing this book is.
- Patricia Foster, editor, Minding the Body: Women Writers
on Body and Soul. A collection of twenty essays from various
women writers, including Margaret Atwood and Naomi Wolf. Lucy
Grealy's essay about her numerous bouts of plastic surgery to
rebuild her face, severely damaged by childhood cancer, is particularly
moving (I was in tears by the end). From the Women's Review
of Books: "The contributors are a perfect mix: writers of
different ages, races, and degrees of conformity to American
standards of beauty. The tone is consistently raw, intensely
personal; you really feel as if you are inside these writers'
heads...So for those who proclaim that in the 1990s American women
have finally achieved tremendous power and gains, Minding the
Body is a needed slap-in-the-face reminder that women still
live in a separate sphere--the objectified body."
- William A. Ewing, The Body: Photographs of the Human Form. 432
pages of photographs and text. Stunning. Here's Ewing's description of the
- the body 'in part'
- the tradition of the full-figure nude
- the realm of scientific exploration
- the vulnerable, mortal body; an emphasis on corporeality
- the body at its peak of physical condition; dance and sports
- the body as an object of sexual desire
- the oppressed and victimized body
- the idealized body
- the camera turned on the photographer's own body
- the body as a site of contested meaning and value
- the body transformed
- the body in the realm of dream, fantasy and obsession
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