In her article “Refiguring Bodies,” author Elizabeth Grosz discusses in detail the history of how the mind/body binarism became convoluted with that of man/woman. As she described the historical process whereby the female became associated with the body (and the male, mind), I recalled Simone de Beauvior’s description of puberty in The Second Sex. I remember reading it and totally identifying with the feelings of shame and excess women associate with their bodies as they take on the female form. And then I remembered one of my favorite songs from high school, “I Like Giants” by Kimya Dawson (<3 ❤ <3). Some of the lyrics are:

Rock and roll is fun but if you ever hear someone

Say you are huge, look at the moon, look at the stars, look at the sun

Look at the ocean and the desert and the mountains and the sky

Say I am just a speck of dust inside a giant’s eye/I am just a speck of dust inside a giant’s eye

When I say Genevieve I really liked it when she said/What she said about the giants and the lemmings on the cliff

She said ‘I like giants/Especially girl giants/Cause all girls feel too big sometimes/Regardless of their size’

Kimya is right, per usual. It sucks (and I can’t speak as to the male experience with this) that ‘all girls feel too big sometimes, regardless of their size,’ but in my experience as a woman who interacts with women, we do.

One of the ‘problems’ with dualism that Descartes presents is how to explain the interactions between ‘two apparently incompossible substances’ (3)- i.e. mind and body. I’m not sure what exactly the answer to his question “How can something that inhabits space affect or be affected by something that is nonspatial?” (3) is, but I have the feeling it may lie in the disparate body image issues that many women struggle with. If ideas about what makes a woman attractive are strong enough and pervasive enough to inspire women to starve themselves to the brink of death, then the strength of the link between the mind and the body is indisputable. However it works, it works damn good.

-Blair Dietrick