Bodies in Thought

Why do we study a woman’s every move? Some women can speak, and some women cannot speak. Or if these women dare to speak when they shouldn’t, we see how they say nothing. Their generic bland words convey a static form of silence.

Husband by their side, they shake their heads in agreement, as all the while their bodies are screaming no. Their bodies betray their words, undercutting their veracity.

Picture Mommy on the steps of her house, smiling to her 3-year-old son who is frightened by the noise of his father’s rising anger, indicative of pending violence. She’s says Daddy’s not mad, Mommy’s okay. She smiles. But the terror behind her smile reveals her lie.  She convinces no one, and her son associates smiles with lies and terror.

I had a teacher like this, the only teacher I remember from elementary school. Mr. T smiled and spoke softly when he was mad, and he would hurl abusive insults at anyone who disturbed classroom peace.  Whereas I can’t remember one of the “yellers,” as we called the female teachers who expressed their anger.  Expressing their anger was direct.  No mixed-up signals, no ambiguous social cues.  Unpleasant . . . it was true.

The most an abused woman can do is sneakily shout for help.  Melania certainly did with her highly interpreted wrist-flick rejection of Trump.   You have to watch it 5 or 6 times, but it’s there.

And of course there is the infamous happy/sad façade or the creepy or skin-crawling meme of Melania at her husband’s 2017 Inauguration.   No mistaking that face.

Whether it is Melania’s wrist or her quick frown-of-relief smile we all see, what we see is real, albeit subjective.

Crazy counternarratives can be spun, for sure. These narratives will be heard in captions by those in their part of the polarized political valley. But these narratives will be twisted and counterintuitive. Bodies are visceral. Bodies express feeling more freely than words. The difference between recoiling and rejecting someone’s spontaneous touch is immense. We don’t need words to know something strange is going on. The movement requires explanation. The movement is significant.

So if politics includes bodies in movement, not just words, how can we read American Political Thought that does not cover bodies of thought, but only words — let alone published words from eras when white men with property had a monopoly?

There are no bodies in thought. Yet bodies moving in emotional reaction can be pegged as triggers.




Published by *Ruth Frick O'Brien

Professor Ruth Frick O'Brien, City University of New York, Graduate Center, 1st "professorette" nicknamed by Rush Limbaugh nickname. Ruth Frick* O'Brien & Frederic Halper* O'Brien, Dep.M.E. @ National Review *(honoring our mothers)

%d bloggers like this: