Friday 14 November 2014

Uterus Man: The Game

During a seminar about the 2008 rom-com The Women, my students and I had a discussion about femininity, power and child-birth, leading to the question of why child-birth is so "unfeminine" (in stereotypical terms) even though it is a) an ability only women have, and b) is so powerful. The point was to explore how "femininity" is constructed, and the powered connotations of gender constructions. As part of that stimulating debate, I began to ponder how the cultural connotations of child-birth would change (and how gender stereotypes might shift) if men could give birth instead of women.

Shanghai-based artist Lu Yang may have provided an answer with UterusMan. I am reticent to describe or comment on the video in too much detail since it is such an affecting experience. However, it is a fascinating thought-experiment. UterusMan is a superhero, but he is divested of the muscularity that is so often employed to denote masculine might in the comic-book context: his power instead emanates from his uterus (and his Pelvis Chariot, of course). Via his radically re-sexed body - which disassociates birth from the genital region - UterusMan produces weapons. The latter evinces that this is not an unabashed celebration of birth-as-power, but rather an exploration into alternative perspectives on pregnancy in a hypothetical post-sex epoch. UterusMan's violence stems more from his essence as a superhero rather than his essence as a man, since his biological sex defies the "male/female" dichotomy: even though he is explicitly called UterusMan and has XY Chromosomes, he also has a vagina.

For more on Lu's intense body-related art work, visit this article and her Vimeo page.

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