Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Even when they die...

...women are still relegated to "gender-appropriate" sports and physical activities.
I went to see the Bodyworlds 2 exhibit yesterday and because I was not all that into what I am guessing was the main goal of the exhibit--to look at body parts and learn more about what goes on inside us (and camels too which was actually more interesting to me!)--I had plenty of time to consider the things I like to focus on: gender and sports.

Many of the bodies have been posed to illustrate how muscles look when they are kicking, throwing, stretching, etc. So many are in exhibit are engaged in sports and other physical activities. Here's what the male bodies are doing: playing soccer, ski jumping, and a male figure skater holding his partner. Here's what the women are doing: yoga, ballet, and being flung around on ice skates by a male partner.

It was a little disappointing that even the dead bodies have been placed in positions/activities that not only are stereotypically "feminine" but fail to acknowledge reality. Women play soccer. Women, despite popular beliefs, do ski jump. They just are not allowed to in the Olympics. And I have even seen some pretty unique pairs and ice dancing maneuvers that defy gender conventions.

Perhaps most egregious was the blurb next to the female body in a yoga pose that expresses surprise at the musculature of the body. Are you kidding me? Apparently everyone at Bodyworlds thinks that yoga is just meditation and easy stretching? No, it actually takes a lot of strength to push yourself into a back bend (the pose the body is prepped to enter in the exhibit) and other poses.

I know other versions of the exhibit use posed from other sports such as tennis and basketball and I would be curious to know the genders of these bodies and how they are presented.


Carrie said...

When we saw the first exhibit in Chicago, I swear to God the male ballet dancer had his testicles removed.

I'm assuming this removal happened after death.

Does the second exhibit have the bizarre display of a dead pregnant woman in a sexy, come-hither pose?

ken said...

Interesting--no male ballet dancer in this one.
There was a pregnant woman--the one with the diseased lung? (I was going to mention that over on Coffee Spoons.) I guess she was kind of posed with hip jutted out and her hand on it.

Carrie said...

Oh no....this was a display about the formation of fetuses...displayed in a separate room with a warning sign that some people might not be able to handle the exhibit.

The woman's body was posed reclining on its side - head on hand, one leg extended, the other leg bent at the knee. You know, a pose out of Victoria's Secret or some sort of centerfold.

Anyway, I guess the centerpiece was supposed to be the nearly fully developed fetus spilling out of the womb.

It was creepy.