Thursday, January 05, 2017

New to the Wiki: Virginity, the Hymen, Desire, Bodies, Blackness and Disability

Burge, Amy, 2016. 
"‘I Will Cut Myself and Smear Blood on the Sheet’: Testing
Virginity in Medieval and Modern Orientalist Romance." Virgin Envy: The Cultural Insignificance of the Hymen. Ed. Jonathan A. Allan, Cristina Santos, and Adriana Spahr. London: Zed. 17-44.
Amy Burge's " 'I Will Cut Myself and Smear Blood on the Sheet': Testing Virginity in Medieval and Modern Orientalist Romance," focuses on representations of the virginity test. Burge explores six sheikh popular romance novels, all featuring virgin heroines. She positions these texts alongside two popular English medieval romances, Bevis of Hampton (c. 1300) and Floris and Blancheflur (c. 1250). She analyzes the persistent reference in all of these texts to the virginity test used to prove women's virginity. Pointing out that these tests are easily manipulated, thereby highlighting their unreliability, Burge reminds us that the sole purpose of testing female virginity is to secure male ownership of women in a heteronormatively gendered society. (6)
Hirdman, Anja, 2016. 
"Speaking through the flesh: Affective encounters, gazes and desire in Harlequin romances," MedieKultur: Journal of media and communication research 32.61: 42-57. [PDF available for free]
Drawing from the cross-disciplinary field of affect theory, the article examines the writing of desire in Harlequin romances through the delineation of gendered encounters. Against the backdrop of earlier feminist critiques of romance fiction, it argues that Harlequin’s intense focus on corporeal sensations and gazes encompasses a looking relationship that differs significantly from the visual mediation of gender and desire. With its use of an extended literary transvestism, a double narrator perspective, and the appropriation of a female gaze, Harlequin offers readers an affective imaginary space in which the significance of the gendered body is re-made, re-versed, and the male body is stripped of its unique position.

McAlister, Jodi, 2016. 
"Between Pleasure and Pain: The Textual Politics of the Hymen." Virgin Envy: The Cultural Insignificance of the Hymen. Ed. Jonathan A. Allan, Cristina Santos, and Adriana Spahr. London: Zed. 45-64.
In [...] "Between Pleasure and Pain: The Textual Politics of the Hymen," Jodi McAlister explores the history of the representation of the hymen in Western literature romances. Her analysis ranges from the thirteenth century, with Le roman de la rose; to the seventeenth century, with the ballad A Remedy for Green Sickness (1682) and A Dialogue between a Married Woman and a Maid (1655); through to experts from "Sub-Umbra, or Sport among the She-Noodles" and "Lady Pokingham, or They All Do It" from Pearl (a magazine published in 1879-80); and up to examples taken from the twentieth century and twenty-first century, using Beyond Heaving Bosoms and recent autobiographical stories of virginity loss. By examining blood, pain, and (im)perforability - common motifs associated with the hymen - in all of these texts across such a vast array of periods, McAlister reveals the discourse over the female body across time. In doing so, she discovers that the perception of virginity loss (the rupture of the hymen) brings about a profound transformative change in women; it is the journey toward adulthood, sexual maturity, and pleasure. More so, from the earliest to the latest of these romances, McAlister argues that the role of women has greatly improved: the transformative change moves from being that imposed externally by the man to that becoming internal to the woman. Finally, and tellingly, McAlister's analysis, by moving from early literary texts to current autobiographical stories (a point of friction in her chapter between literary texts and real lives), shows that in the latter texts the hymen is less concrete: the broken hymen does not and cannot fulfill the expectation of the transformative changes long promised by our cultural imaginary. (6-7)
Schalk, Sami, 2016. 
"Happily Ever After for Whom? Blackness and Disability in Romance Narratives." Journal of Popular Culture 49.6: 1241–1260. Excerpt
In the United States, people with disabilities are often represented as nonsexual, having either no desire or capacity for sexual interactions. This stereotype is supported by the lack of mainstream representation and by the historical denial and punishment of the sexualities of people with disabilities through eugenics, forced sterilization, institutionalization, exclusion from sex education, and more [...]. In contrast, the sexuality of black people has been abundantly represented as a problem that needs to be controlled. Black feminists argue that sexuality and gender are always already racialized, and sexual-racial stereotypes, like the Jezebel, dominate contemporary cultural representations of black women. While the sexualities of black people have been more often represented than the sexualities of disabled people, these representations have typically been oppressive nonetheless.
Positive, perhaps even liberatory, scripts of black and disabled people's sexualities are largely nonexistent, especially in mainstream culture. As a result, writers of popular fiction have sought to depict black and disabled people's experiences in the popular romance genre. (1241)

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