Susie Orbach's (Virtual) Bodies


In her new book, Susie Orbach probes the mind/body dichotomy, and the cultural phenomena and technological developments that have made the issue much more complicated since we took Women’s Studies 101. Read our thoughts after the jump, and catch Orbach in conversation with Gina Kolata tonight at the 92nd Street Y if you live in New York.

Orbach, who wrote Fat is a Feminist Issue and advised former bulimic Princess Diana, presents examples of individuals whose physical afflictions are rooted in various childhood traumas. These examples make it clear that our psychology affects our bodies as much as our surroundings, and that it’s almost impossible not to pass perverted versions of your own body issues onto your offspring. Sweet!

She goes on to discuss the Internet, and the “alternative identities” people create on Second Life. Although she strays towards condemning the “almost instant intimacies” electronic communications create, and focuses on the confusion spawned by a second, or several, disembodied identities, Orbach also acknowledges the benefits of these doubles. “The web democratises and extends the imagination, making it possible for people to enact their dreams within new communities of interest, however obscure, idiosyncratic or fleeting.” And regardless of their of physical selves: in Second Life, she points out, “a disabled man can garden.”