You Have To See It To Believe It

A reader recently emailed me about Sociological Images. What a great blog!

WHY: What with the kids these days being all media-saturated, a good image is often more effective for getting a point across than all the citations, repetition, or jumping up and down and saying "really I swear" can ever do. This blog is a space for us to share those really fantastic images.

OUR AUDIENCE: We assume that you, our audience, are sociologically-inclined folks. So we do not typically include a lengthy sociological interpretation of the images.

DIALOGUE: We are aware that images are polysemic and that people will use them in many different ways, so our commentary, when offered, is never meant to control how people use the images (as if we could anyway). We welcome comments that offer additional or alternative interpretations of images, in fact we'd love them, but let's not get into any fights about what an image does or doesn't mean.

Do spend some time on this blog. Warning: May increase blood pressure.

In particular reader MoonSinger wanted to draw my attention to this post titled " 'Your Body': Men Are People And Women Are Women". My sister went to see Bodies: The Exhibition when it was in Pittsburgh and I was wishing I could have gone with her. Not now, though. You can get exhibit-related merchandise here. Not surprisingly, the merchandise depicts images of 'people' , not women.

More like this

The "Bodies" exhibition is a copycat of the original "BodyWorlds" exhibits, created by plastination process developer and anatomist Gunther von Hagens. As an anatomy instructor, I would strongly recommend the BodyWorlds exhibits over any of the (crappy, IMO) imitations, if for no other reason than that it's not entirely clear whether the bodies used in the latter displays were obtained ethically.

Von Hagens includes numerous female cadavers in his exhibits, and some are placed in active, athletic poses (e.g. archery, basketball, soccer, yoga, dance, martial arts). However, von Hagens has admitted on the BodyWorlds website that he was initially concerned about displaying female cadavers:

Why are there not more women plastinates in the exhibits?

Sensitive to perceived community concerns, Dr. von Hagens did not want to appear voyeuristic in revealing too many female bodies. Further, he sees himself in the tradition of Renaissance anatomists, whose works traditionally included far more masculine than feminine bodies, since all but the reproductive systems are essentially the same. The musculature of male bodies is generally more pronounced and illustrates more aspects of the muscle system. The organs on display come primarily from the female body donors. However, since opening the exhibits, Dr. von Hagens has received numerous requests from women visitors to see more examples of female anatomy. Based on this, Dr. von Hagens has already added and will add more female plastinates to future exhibits.

So apparently he *is* working to provide a more balanced exhibit of human anatomy. For perhaps the most dramatic plastinate, a horse and rider, the equestrian is indeed male, but it wouldn't surprise me if von Hagens has a female equestrian and horse plastinate to display in the near future.

The penultimate paragraph, below the italicized question, is a quote from the BodyWorlds website, and I intended for it to be italicized as well. Sorry!

thank you for recommending this blog - some of the images certainly get your heart racing (albeit not in a good way..) :/