University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
Within the patriarchal discourse centered around the binary categories of “man” and “woman” the so-called “inferiority” of the latter is located upon her corporeal body itself. Set against the normative “phallic male”, the “non-phallic female sexuality” comes to be cast as a conspicuous “absence” or an “inherent lack”. In fact, the devalued “womanhood” that a “woman” is said to embody is projected as an inevitable manifestation of her “lacking” female body. The “woman” is thus reduced to a mere sexed body with her “realities” firmly inscribed upon her physical body or her corporeality/corporeality. However, the interaction of gender, race and class ideologies within diverse social contexts constructs a female subject whose corporeality/corporeality is also marked by class and racial dimensions. Hence, in such a context, the Black woman being non-male and non-White, her body is characterized as “doubly-lacking”. In fact, the gendered and racialized corporeality/corporeality of the Black woman constitutes a paradox for it is her very physical body, which is said to be a visible embodiment of her “dual inferiority”, that renders her invisible within the normative White patriarchal discourse. Thus, the aim of this paper is to examine the paradox of the Black female body which simultaneously occupies an “Othered” presence and an ideologically fabricated absence/invisibility within the gendered and racialized social discourse. This paper draws upon Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye in de-constructing the constructed paradoxical corporeal/corporeal existence of the Black woman. It focuses on how the Black female characters in Morrison’s novel grapple with the constructed social “reality” that “femininity”, which is very much located in the female physical body itself, is one that is “essentially” White.
construct, corporeality, womanhood, absence, paradox