Communication and Construction of Monstrous Embodiment
June 15-16, 2012

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Sensuality as Disability - Victorians and Precocious Puberty

Since this week (22 November to be precise) marked the start of Disability History Month here in the UK, we thought that it was a  good time to draw your attention to a special issue of Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies from 2008, which explores the subject of "Critical Transformations: Disability and the Body in Nineteenth-Century Britain". Best of all, the issue, guest edited by Mark Mossman and Martha Stoddard-Holmes, is available free online in full.

Pieter Paaw, "Skeleton and Skull of a
Child." (1633), © University of Toronto
Library, 2003 
The journal offers a number of interesting articles exploring the intersection of gender and disability, such as Joyce L. Huff's "The Domesticated Monster: Freakishness and Disability in Fitz-James O'Brien's 'What Was It?'". Yet what is perhaps most interesting within the context of this conference (and this blog) is the inclusion of M. Jeanne Peterson's "Precocious Puberty and the Victorian Medical Gaze".

Peterson's article considers the responses on the part of Victorian medical reports to cases of precocious puberty and the way that they were tied to anxieties surrounding conceptions of gender, bodily normalcy, even the state of childhood itself. In so doing, she demonstrates, to quote Mossman and Stoddard-Holmes's introduction to the issue, "the fecundity of visual and structural disruptions of “normal” masculinity and femininity for narratives of pathology and normalcy." The introduction goes on to note that the article
"work[s] on the continuum on which the normal and the extraordinary both reside, noting the various points (and convergences) of discomfort, apprehension, attraction, and wonder these “extraordinary cases” produce"
In consciously choosing to place early-onset puberty within the discourse of disability, Peterson acknowledges that her decision may raise some questions, given that,
"precocious puberty would seem more a case of early ability rather than disability. But early puberty can also be understood as deviance, as straying from norms of bodily development. In the phenomena of early puberty doctors found amazement, desire, and dread."
In Peterson's study, then, the precocious development of physical markers of puberty, those undeniable indicators of the body's eroticism, its sensuality, become in and of themselves an illustration of disability. This definition of the preciously pubescent body would seem to bind Victorian constructions of disability, of exceptional bodies, to the sensual body in a way which is often overlooked. Sensuality here stands at the very core of disability, in stark contrast to a traditional conception in which the senses,  if not deliberately removed, are at the very least forgotten.

2 comments:

  1. I consider this the finest blog I have read all this hour.grow taller for idiots

    ReplyDelete
  2. Women Lie : Size DOES Matter

    And if you've ever taken a girl home, gotten hot and heavy and then felt embarrassment and PANIC when you take off your pants and see the look of DISAPPOINTMENT on her face, you need to go check this out right now . . .

    ===> Don't Disapoint Her With Your Little Guy <=====

    I'll tell you right now (and I've got proof), that anyone who tells you "size doesn't matter to women" is flat out lying to your face and trying to make you feel better . . .

    Heck, just recently I asked a focus group of women via an anonymous online survey if size matters, and again and again they said "Oh my god, I HATE IT when it's SMALL."

    For a long time I didn't know what to tell the guys who'd write in to me and ask how to get "bigger."

    I'd say something lame like "Women actually like guys who are smaller . . . you just have to get good with your hands."

    Then I found "THE BIBLE of Penis Enlargement" by this guy named John Collins . . .

    ===> They HATE It When It's Small <=====

    What's crazy about this is that John has ACTUAL VIDEO PROOF that his stuff works . . .

    He's got a literal mountain of testimonials from customers not just SAYING that they added 3 or even FOUR inches . . .

    But actual VIDEOS that can't be faked.

    I was 100% skeptical until I saw these vids, so even if you think it's "impossible" to get bigger (and there's no pills or suction devices or any of that crap) go check out the overwhelming proof on John's site.

    ===> Women Lie : Size DOES Matter <=====

    Best,

    [Ana]

    P.S. There's absolutely nothing in the world that will make you smile as wide as pulling down your pants and seeing a look of AWE and ANTICIPATION on a woman's face. The first time you hear her say "It might be too big" in a soft, excited voice, you're going to feel a thrill through your spine like you just snorted 3 lines of cocaine.

    If you aren't at least 7 inches you owe it to yourself (and to the women in your life) to check this out.

    ===> Proof Of REAL Growth <=====

    ReplyDelete