Spring 2012 Call For Submissions

Canon Spring 2012 Call For Submissions

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New Issue Out Now Online and In Print!

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Call For Submissions – Fall/Winter 2011/12

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What Makes a Body Obscene? » Sociological Images

What Makes a Body Obscene?

From Sociological Images:

Explaining why it is legal for men to be shirtless in public but illegal for women to do the same, most Americans would probably refer to the fact that women have breasts and men have chests.  Breasts, after all, are… these things. They incite us, disgust us, send us into grabby fits.  They’re just so there.  They force us to contend with them; they’re bouncy or flat or pointy or pendulous and sometimes they’re plain missing!  They demand their individuality!  Why won’t they obey some sort of law and order!

Much better to contain those babies.

Chests… well they do have those haunting nipples… but they’re just less unruly, right? Not a threat to public order at all.

So, there you have it.  Men have chests and women have breasts and that’s why topless women are indecent.

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Variations in Size and Proportions Across U.S. Designers

In one store, you’re a Size 4, in another a Size 8, and in another a Size 10 — all without gaining an ounce.

So starts a New York Times article.  It features this handy graphic illustrating just how much both sizes and proportions vary from store to store:

When I saw this article come up first in Jezebel, then in Sociological Images – my two favourite blogs/websites – I was struck by the incomprehensibility of the whole thing. Not the fact that in this day and age some sort of standardization to something like this has not been made was not interesting. It was. But what I think more interesting is another fact. Actually it is the picture of a woman’s body right in the above diagram. Can you see the disproportions between the breasts, the waist and the hips? Do you know any woman like that? I hope you dont. Because they must be seriously sick.

But the sexism aside, I think for the theme of our coming issue, we should ask a different set of questions. That is to say, for example,who/what does the non-standardized nature of the fashion industry benefit? what is the politics behind this non-regulation? Moreover, as Foucault tells us, non-regulation does not necessarily mean non-intervention of the regulatory practices into whatever we are talking about. So, the (non-)standardization aside, how is the fashion industry regulated? What are the politics behind that? How does that structure work itself out?

Once we have some sort of answer to these questions, we may begin to survey the normative grounds it rests on – hence the ethics & the aesthetics..

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