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Massey, C. (1996). Body-Smarts: An Adolescent Girl Thinking, Talking, and Mattering. Gender and Psychoanalysis, 1(1):75-102.

(1996). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 1(1):75-102

Body-Smarts: An Adolescent Girl Thinking, Talking, and Mattering Related Papers

Carla Massey, Ph.D.

This essay discusses one girl's thinking, talking and embodying of her sometimes painful perceptions of difference — her body-smarts. I use the term body-smarts to bring attention to the ways our thinking bodies and embodied minds struggle, sometimes painfully, with dualistically formulated categories of gender and race, and with the body-mind split of our Western culture and language. I show this girl figuring her identity as she speaks with and through her speech, responding to her own and others' perceptions of her body. Karnett encounters many dilemmas as she crosses back and forth across conventional gender and race lines. She experiences painful contradictions between conventional categories and her actual relationships with her own and others' bodies. She demonstrates some of the struggles that ensue in the gap between experience and language when an idiom does not adequately fit or express the complexity of one's experience. This discussion is not an objective account about Karnett. It is a response that takes transcriptions of her speech into conversation with questions concerning language, the performance of identity, and the mind-body problem.

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