Carbon fibre as a prosthetic form of masculinity

Lots of people are passing this around, and I think the original spark for the passing around may have been Dawkins, but all the same, I’m going to pass it around too, because it is just that whatever it is.

Carbon Fibre Masculinity: Abstract.

This article examines material economies of carbon fibre as a prosthetic form of masculinity. The paper advances three main arguments. Firstly, carbon fibre can be a site in which disability is overcome, an act of overcoming that is affected through masculinized technology. Secondly, carbon fibre can be a homosocial surface; that is, carbon fibre becomes both a surface extension of the self and a third-party mediator in homosocial relationships, a surface that facilitates intimacy between men in ways that devalue femininity in both male and female bodies. Carbon fibre surfaces are material extensions of subjectivity, and carbon fibre surfaces are vectors of the cultural economies of masculine competition. Thirdly, the article gives an account of Oscar Pistorius as an example of the masculinization of carbon fibre, and the associated binding of a psychic attitude of misogyny and power to a form of violent and competitive masculine subjectivity. The paper unpacks the affects, economies and surfaces of “carbon fibre masculinity” and discusses Pistorius’ use of carbon fibre, homosociality and misogyny as forms of protest masculinity through which he unconsciously attempted to recuperate his gendered identity from emasculating discourses of disability.

Let’s see…

One, what does it mean to say “carbon fibre can be a site”? Why call it a “site”? I know it’s theory jargon, but why use it? Carbon fiber is a material. What is added by calling it a “site”? Other than obfuscation?

Two, why call it “masculinized technology”? No doubt this is explained in the paper, but it’s taken to be self-evident enough to work in the abstract, and I wonder why.

Third, how can carbon fiber be “a third-party mediator in homosocial relationships”? That obviously will be a big part of the article, but on its face it looks desperately arbitrary. Women can make use of carbon fiber prostheses too, surely?

Then of course I wonder how carbon fiber can be a surface that “facilitates intimacy between men in ways that devalue femininity in both male and female bodies.”

The rest – well I can see the drift. Oscar Pistorius may have felt less of a man because of his missing leg. I would guess that most people feel less of a human if they lack a major limb, but whatever – maybe Pistorius felt it especially acutely. But the special carbon fiber aspect…?

Oh well. I prefer clarity to deliberate obfuscation. So it goes.

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