Yours, Mine, Ours

Butler suggests that we think beyond the idea that our bodies are ours and ours alone. By considering the body as a common asset instead of merely something of which one has sole control, we can be substantially more effective. This, of course, makes sense. By rethinking our relationship to our body in this way, we are able to combat the “mind/body split” ideology as well as move toward a collective recognition of the capacities of many bodies striving simultaneously towards a desired change. In doing so, however, it seems important not to forget the empowerment one can experience during that moment in which s/he discovers autonomy over his/her body.

Not that Butler is referencing 2 year olds in her writing, but the principle of bodily autonomy hold true even in their case. Once a toddler figures out that he/she has control over his/her body, a myriad of possibilities open up.

If/when victims of continued sexual abuse are given the opportunity to realize that they actually can decide when and with whom they want to have sex, their prospects and opinions of the future improve markedly.

Many intellectually disabled individuals live a life filled with ridiculously low expectations. After encountering someone who refuses to coddle them and encourages realistic participation in everyday normal activities, their skillset multiplies very quickly.

All of this happens largely due to the simple realization that, “I own my body and I will choose what to do (or not do) with it.”

My point here is not to suggest that considering one’s body as solely their own is the ideal framework. In fact, in each of these examples it takes other bodies acting the bodies in question to affect the change. So, Butler is right (as usual 🙂 but it never hurts to remember that valuing the “body as individual property” stage is just as important as striving to move through it and on to the recognition that our bodies are not only ours.

-Mika Baugh


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