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Thinking girls on-line : texts, body politics, and tamponed cyborgs Zumsteg, Beatrix 2000

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T H I N K I N G G I R L S O N - L I N E : T E X T S , B O D Y P O L I T I C S , A N D T A M P O N E D C Y B O R G S by Beatrix Zumsteg B . A . , Simon Fraser University, 1997 A Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of M A S T E R OF A R T S in T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Department of Anthropology and Sociology) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required s tanda^ T H E U N I V E R S I T Y OF B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A M a y 2000 © Beatrix Zumsteg, 2000 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, ! agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date 7 DE-6 (2/88) ABSTRACT In affluent western societies, digital communication and information technologies increasingly reshape our social relations and identities, the way we perceive our selves and others. Given that we are all communicative and relational bodies in complex webs of power, the media of communication are central to the ways we are socially structured and relate to one another. The purpose of my thesis is to sketch a framework which can account critically for the dangers and benefits of embodying digital technologies while rethinking the gendered body politics of the everyday world. In this thesis, I develop a set of theoretical abstractions through which to think our bodies. With these theories, I paint images of modern body politics and of the micro- and macro-politics of power over life in larger socio-historical processes. M y textual analysis of Tampax's TRoom (http://www.troom.com), a corporate website exemplifies thinking these broader historical and social issues of embodiment. I focus on this website as a discursive frame that calls girls as free and subjugated subjects into digital texts of feminine protection. Thinking girl bodies through and against the 'civil izing' and disciplinary dimension of digital and sanitary technologies provides us with both liberating and confining images of what it may be like to be or become a girl . In the conclusion, I present the image of cyborgs, as hybrids of human organism and technology, to think our selves through everyday life techniques and technologies. Tamponed cyborgs provide realities that reformulate a bodily unity, capture contemporary issues of "girls" embodiment and incorporation of technology, and contribute to an understanding of the possibilities for discursive remappings of girls' social relations and selves. TABLE OF CONTENTS A B S T R A C T i i T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S i i i A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S i v I N T R O D U C T I O N 1 C H A P T E R O N E : Writing the Body 11 Writing Text on the Internet: Identifiable Components 11 Text as Technique and Technology: More Complex Processes 20 Embodying Thought Through Bodily Habits 28 Subjugating Sexual Bodies 34 Inscribing a Grammar of Girlhood 46 Weaving Girl Texts 52 C H A P T E R T W O : Text-work and Teen-talk in the TRoom: Textual Constructions Through the Virtual Matrix - Period. 57 Corporate Hyperlinks 59 Tina Incorporated 64 The Teen-a Net 75 Thinkable Girl Texts 90 Arousing Interest in the TRoom 94 Incorporating desire 98 Leaky boundaries 102 C O N C L U S I O N 114 B I B L I O G R A P H Y 125 iii A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S M y Thesis has the imprint of many people who have helped me to think and rethink texts of social relations and selves. I thank Becki Ross, my supervisor, for her inspiring conversations with poignant lucidity and her rich support in my academic working. I also thank Thomas Kemple whose brilliance in thinking and linking theory to everyday life has enriched my work generously and substantially. I gratefully acknowledge Mary Bryson who gave valuable suggestions for remapping my arguments in the larger field of gender and technology. I thank Michelle Swann for her friendly texts across the blue and for her v iv id inspiration to rethink historical contexts and footnotes during this time of writing. M y thanks also go to Zohreh Bayatrizi for her great companionship and critical conversations in the many and late hours at the Department of Sociology. I am deeply grateful to Ginger L . Mason for faithfully editing thousands of pages of my work and for her wonderful support in bright and countless ways in the everyday life throughout these University years. M y deep gratitude goes to my family in Switzerland for their amazing encouragement and loyalty while I have been mapping life in other geographies. iv INTRODUCTION In this thesis, I w i l l discuss corporate digital texts which shape and reshape girls in their everyday lives. I think girl bodies through Internet technologies in a larger socio-historical framework and thereby explore issues of embodiment of texts1, subject formations, and incorporated body politics. I w i l l describe and analyze the T R o o m 2 as part of the Tampax website in more detail as it pertains to configurations of girls' social relations and selves through Internet technologies. M y textual analysis w i l l focus mainly on Tampax's hyperlink T R o o m 3 at http://www.troom.com which is targeted in particular towards pre-teens and teenagers. This is my case study of one particular corporate website. The TRoom, with its various hyperlinks, is an example of corporate culture representing, as well as recruiting girls through cyberspace into Tampax digital texts. Texts, including this one, are portrayals of everyday lives and organize our social relations and selves in particular ways (Smith, 1999). New texts, such as those which enter our lives through Internet technologies, are "unprecedented in terms of their scope, complexity, and the programmatic principles of their use" (Plant, 1999:10) and thus, facilitate both dreams of liberation and fears of increasing control. Girls are hailed and represented by Tampax digital texts in a powerful way and thereby placed as both free and subjugated subjects in relation to Tampax texts of feminine protection. B y addressing young women on their seemingly common ground o f female bodies and menstruation, Tampax Corporation centres on the materiality of 1 With texts, as I will explain in more detail later, I mean a complex and overlapping understanding of texts and images, of techniques and technologies, and thus, of historically and culturally specific relations. 2 Thanks to Mary Bryson, University of British Columbia, for suggesting this website. 1 female bodies. Yet, the categories of sex and gender, of female and feminine soon overlap and blur. In this digital environment, Tampax, owned by the multinational corporation Procter & Gamble that has spun its economic network across time and space, organizes a sense of what it is like to be a girl . In the TRoom, visitors find themselves with hyperlinks representing girls who deal with issues of body, sex, guys, (hetero-sexuality, school/ work, and family. It is an Internet example of contemporary body politics at work and of the political economy of women's bodies as targets of capitalist structures. The TRoom, updated monthly by Tampax, serves me as an example of inscribing bodily habits by various 'civilizing' techniques to manage bodily emissions, in particular menstruation; discussing technologies to instill notions of modern sexuality, gender, and productivity; and describing digital corporate "help" scripts for girls to become women. Thus, my body-centred approach to a corporate Internet site representing girls and thinking girls on-line takes issue with hypertextual configurations of girl knowledge and bodies. These constructions paint girl images and represent figures of femininity. Thinking consciously or unconsciously about cultural constructions of femininity and masculinity is a complex undertaking for teenage girls. Growing up and growing out of being a teenager is a time of ordering and reordering the world in ways that suggest open and continuous processes of subject formation. A s McRobbie (1994:154-5) suggests, the symbolic and embodied notion of femininity provides powerful subject positions for girls and exists as the product of a highly charged consumer culture. Thus, my analysis of textual mappings and remappings through the Tampax website takes into 3 The TRoom appears in various versions also as TRoom, T room throughout the website. I use TRoom to point to the "T" as metonymy standing for various subjectivities merged in one, such as Tina, Teen, and 2 account the discourses of desire and economy as girls are considered to be entering both the (hetero-)sexual adult world as well as the productive or economic world of commodity exchange. Teenage girls are confronted not only with a changing body, but also with adult societal scripts that mandate the proper, respectable, and 'normal' route o f becoming a woman. The onset of menstruation is typically associated with women entering their reproductive years and the years of marriage prospects.4 Further, heterosexuality is still considered one of the achievements of normal passage into adulthood (Adams, 1997). Thus, my inquiry into the social meanings o f being a girl or a woman w i l l also discuss gendered bodies as mediators of androcentric and heterosexual institutions and discourses. How we think our bodies is, as Braidotti (1994:1) suggests, a method to explore theoretical options based in material conditions that translate into a style of thinking (alternative) subjectivities. Tampax texts and hypertexts afford a number of contradictory possibilities for thinking bodies through Internet texts. I am politically interested in illuminating the normative, regulatory and confining aspects in the constructions and representations of girls and in disrupting this kind of body script. This is my contribution in thinking and rethinking girls on-online. The TRoom as a digital space is an abstracted site for the very construction of gender and other subjectivities of girls. Houppert (1999) argues that talking about menstruation is a tabooed field. However, I suggest that the TRoom is an example of a digital place that facilitates a proliferation of a discourse of feminine protection. I w i l l Tampax. 4 The construction of knowledge attached to female anatomical phenomena situates girls differently from boys. Mitterauer's (1986; 1992) book Sozialgeschichte derJugend points to research on 'female sexual maturity' in Western Europe throughout modernity. Interestingly, data of female populations on their age at the beginning of menstruation are widely available as early as 1620 and across classes and European nations, while data on male physiology is less well documented and relates more to height and muscular 3 explore various discourses and technologies through which young women's bodies are reimagined with implications for themselves and their social relations. In providing girls with a digital space that presents knowledge on menstruation and thus, on reproduction and sexuality, Tampax opens up discourses of feminine protection and gazes into girls' lives. Wi th the tampon as a tool of internalizing intimate technology, Tampax aims at entering girls' everyday lives and at rewriting symbolic spaces o f girls. These technological processes pertain to the power over life. H o w does the TRoom instruct girls to learn or unlearn normative understandings of 'civilized' behaviour and performances of femininity? What is it about femininity that needs to be protected, by what or whom, and for what purposes? What should girls be interested in and talking about? H o w are girls represented through this digital technology? How can girls think themselves and their social relations through these abstracted texts? What are the possibilities for discursive remappings of bodies in digital space? When we move beyond Tampax's digital frame and consider Tampax's reach through other media such as print advertisements, what do we see? What emerges as a possible alternative frame? When we engage in reading against the grain of heteronormativity and stereotypical notions of femininity, what alternative performances of thinking girls' bodies through texts become possible? What figures emerge through which we can think female bodies in their textual construction and reconstruction? The theoretical framework I develop in Chapter one serves me as a "regulatory device" (Smith, 1999:140) for organizing my reading of this website pertinent to cultural constructions of'womanhood' or 'girlhood', as well as a way o f illuminating the processes strength than to reproductive/genital development. Thus, menstruation can be traced as a biopolitics of a girl population throughout modernity. 4 involved in constructions and reconstructions of subjectivities through texts. M y methodology of reading Tampax's TRoom texts, which I w i l l describe and analyze in depth in Chapter two, is inspired by Smith's (1999:133-56) analysis of a textual specimen of sociological theory as a dialogue between reader and text, whereby the texts are recognized as providing an organizing framework for seeing other texts of one's world. With this, I am locating my analysis of Tampax's website in larger discussion of corporate Internet texts and the production of gendered and sexed selves. This also situates my exploration in an interdisciplinary context of consumer culture, communications, and gender studies. Gender continues to be one of the primary identities in western societies which guides the ways in which people relate to one another. With this, I take the notion of gender, that is, the constructions of femininity and masculinity, very broadly. A s social and cultural beings, we relate to one another, and through the embodied logic of our gendered bodies, we understand the world. This points to an understanding of gender as a social construction and reconstruction of subjectivity through texts (Bryson and de Castell 1998; Currie 1999; Lorber, 1991). I understand the modern human body as a body of human relations which has been rewritten through various techniques and technologies. These rewriting technologies take various forms. Elias (1978) describes social processes that inscribe habits onto individuals through bodily techniques that produce 'civilizing' effects. Foucault (1978) describes how erotic bodies have been reduced to sexual bodies through regulatory technologies. Rubin (1975; 1984) describes how bodies of kinship have been systematically reduced to bodies of sex and gender useful to a heterosexual and 5 patriarchal order and a sex hierarchy has been established an order to think good and bad sex. M y inquiry into reinventing gendered bodies involves analyzing these historical developments of modernity to understand 'civilizing' and regulating techniques at work, and involves illuminating the materiality of the relationships between bodies and texts to investigate various forms of power constituting subjectivities. Thus, my notion of gender can be understood broadly as a way of thinking systems of social relations that allows us to consider the interdependence of gender with other variables o f relations o f inequity such as age, sexuality, class, race, culture, abilities and lifestyle. The forms of power I am exploring are textual powers. Stated differently, in the first part o f my thesis, I discuss the socio-historical "rewriting" processes o f gendered bodies through texts whereby texts here refer to the powers that rewrite the body. B y tracing the etymology of the word text, I discuss historico-material relations of gendered bodies to text, understood as: (a) written words and images, (b) technique and technology, and (c) the thing woven. Thus, I use O'Neill 's (1985) notion of text, which he extends beyond its discursive meanings to include tech-niques5 and tech-nologies of self and society. Further, I use Plant's (1997) metaphor of textile and weaving to illustrate the interminglings between bodies and technologies. Reinventing gendered bodies in relation to texts requires us to think bodies through a set of theoretical, and not just literal distinctions that takes into account discursive and material constructions of gender and gender relations, as well as of relations of desire and work. Consider, for example, Tampax texts that reinscribe girls' and women's bodies in North America in the twentieth century, such as "Welcome this 5 The Greek word techne (art, skill) in the words technique and technology points us to the merging of art and science in the configurations of social relations and selves. 6 new day for womanhood", announced by Tampax Inc. on July 26, 1936, in its very first mass-market advertisement for tampons. In her Village Voice article published on February 7 t h 1995, Karen Houppert notes that in subsequent years, "Freedom" and "comfort" were hyped. And women bought. Still, Tampax wasn't content with marketing convenience. Like others in the sanitary protection industry, it took care to remind women that menstruation was naughty [and a] irrepressible evidence of sexuality. Girls ' bodies and experiences of embodiment are inscribed and incorporated through these new technologies 6. Writing and rewriting thinkable scripts for girls, the focus of my case study, involves civil izing the female body to incorporate new techniques and technologies whereby, as Elias' (1978; 1997) study on emitting wind shows, bodies become subjugated through elaborate controls of bodily functions, here, of menstruation. Menstruation as "irrepressible evidence of sexuality", as Houppert (1995) suggests, points to another means of access to bodies on the levels of sex and sexuality. The emergence of sexual rationality, as Foucault's (1978) analysis of the body and the self in The History of Sexuality shows, draws even wider circles than the rationality of controlling bodily emissions. Techniques and technologies of self can regulate gender scripts of, for example, hetero-femininity, when the concomitant appropriateness of gender and sex roles is suggested through representations of heterosexual relations of desire and through organizing images and texts of girls in need of (corporate) protection for a natural articulation of the existing political economy of femininity. 6 Hayles (1999: 193ff.) suggests that experiences of embodiment are in continual interaction with the constructions of the body whereby embodiment never coincides exactly with the body. She argues that incorporating (embodiments and performances thereof) and inscribing (constructions of the body) practices work together to create cultural constructs. 7 I w i l l employ O'Neill 's (1985) suggestion to consider the body politic at three levels comprised of the libidinal body, the gendered body, and the productive body 7 . Such a tri-level approach to our historical becoming may allow us to identify regression and progression in today's body politic. The gendered body, as a relational category o f identity, can mediate the libidinal and productive body by perpetuating or contesting the binary system of femininity and masculinity. When girls incorporate Tampax digital texts of feminine protection, they become mediators of a political economy engineered by corporate power. In this case, gender is embodied through a sanitary tool, a tampon that helps to shape an understanding o f a girl's everyday life. The interpretations given to this tool are a way of imagining and reimagining the world. Stated differently through other examples, seeing a doll , a flower, or a sewing machine as feminine or as a feminine tool, and seeing a hammer, a rock, or a computer as masculine or as a masculine tool, is a way of relating and giving shape to our selves and our world in a particular way (Cassell and Jenkins, 1998:6). When we challenge and set out to change a historically emerging and gendered dichotomy of anthropomorphism, that is, o f attributing feminine and masculine categories to desire, economy, and 'our world', we engage in the possibilities to reconfigure our subjectivities, i f not our bodies to create alternative realities. Possibilities for a discursive reconstruction are opened up by methods of textual distinctions and abstractions that come with their own potential of creating textual realities. Smith (1999:79) writes: [T]he ruling relations form a complex field of coordinated activities, based in technologies of print, and increasingly in computer technologies. They are activities in and in relation to texts, and texts create them as relations. [....] [T]he text creates something like an escape 7 While the three levels of the body politic can be individually distinguished for the purpose of analysis, they are closely enmeshed as socially constructed categories, and provide a way to understand our social relations and selves. 8 hatch out of the actual and is foundational of any possibility of social forms of abstraction of whatever kind, including this one here. Digital texts highlight the possibilities of an escape from the assumption of discursive stability and the fixity of selves. Tampax girls emerge as fragmented and abstracted figures through which girls may think themselves, as I describe in Chapter two. I w i l l focus on two layers of textual representations of girls, the first being a virtual, multiple and corporate persona named Tina who speaks to girls and interpellates them in relation to her. I suggest that she is designed as a believable or thinkable script and thus, as a normative ideal for other girls. Secondly, an abstracted and fragmented mechanized girl body reduced to a representation of her reproductive organs performs the act of inserting a tampon in the quick-time video. This representation of a female body could be a close-up of Tina's genital zone or of any other girl's reproductive system. These textual abstractions are presented to us in Tampax's primary frame of interpretation, the TRoom, and offer a fantastic notion of subjectivities, highlighted within a digital web where the boundaries of the human shape are blurred and fragmented. Outside this interpretive frame, there may be opportunities to rethink Tampax's configuration of girls. I w i l l read a Tampax advertisement from a teenage magazine against the grain of Tampax's rhetoric in the TRoom. This brings us back to the issue of reconfiguration. If we see the "materiality of text", as Smith (1999:80) suggests, we can investigate the ruling relations, or the organization of power, through these texts as organizers or shapers of subjectivities and social relations. Such a view rejects seeing texts as something outside ruling relations and people themselves, and takes texts as mediators of peculiar forms of power. Thus, the body politic of girls cannot be thought of outside the textual powers that rewrite the body. This helps us to understand the 9 materiality of the weaving of social bodies by various techniques and technologies, in short, by texts. Through a dialogical relationship between bodies, embodiments, and texts, power relations - and with them gender relations - remap a sense of self and the world. Thus, texts are integral to our ontology and epistemology. Our ontologies and epistemologies have emerged from a modern history of rewriting processes and embodiments of everyday life technologies. With the notion of techno-social dynamics, I also distance myself from social and biological as well as from technological determinism. With the more recent technology of electronic writing and reading, Internet technologies seem to encourage the breakdown of distinct boundaries between bodies and machines/ tools as well as the proliferation of all kinds of texts. In the concluding part of my thesis, I w i l l introduce the cyborgs as figures to rethink girl subjectivities. Haraway (1991; 1997) offers the metaphor of the cyborgs as 'hybrids of machine and organism' navigating through the system constraints within a global economic and digital circuit. The cyborgs can serve as theoretical bodies of thought, or in other words, as figures to think with to understand an incorporation of texts of feminine protection into girls bodies and to explore possibilities of a confining or liberating body politic through new technologies. 10 CHAPTER ONE: Writing the Body Writing text on the Internet: Identifiable components But both man [sic] and his tools exist "only in relation to the interminglings they make possible or that make them possible" [Deleuze and Guattari, 1988:90]. The user and the used are merely perceptible elements, the identifiable components which are thrown up by -and serve also to contain - far more complex processes. The weaver and the loom, the surfer and the Net: none of them are anything without the engineerings which they both capture and perpetuate. (Plant, 1997:77) A t the commencement of the twenty-first century, computers have become significant tools in giving shape to our world and our selves. Although the teenage girl A d a Lovelace can be credited for inventing the first computer program more than a g century ago (Plant, 1997), using computers with competence and expertise is still perceived to be a predominantly male domain (Bryson and de Castell, 1996). In times of increasing technologization of life and work, this is not an irrelevant observation when we consider that the computer is a tool that can rewrite life. Thus, designing computer technology and implementing its use requires thinking along the lines of sex and gender, as well as other dimensions of inequity. On the Internet, through word processing and hypertext, electronic mail and computer conferencing, the cultural production of social relations and identities occurs through the mediation of texts. A s the dictionary suggests, one definition of text is "the wording of anything written" (The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology, 1988:1129). This definition points to the computer-mediated ways in which individuals can express themselves, be represented, and interact through text. However, this text, as I shall show, 8 In the 1840's Ada Lovelace invented the notion of a binary computing system. She suggested a plan for how the Difference Engine, a calculating system on which the engineer Charles Babbage had been working for many years, might calculate Bernoulli numbers. This plan for the 'thinking machine' is now regarded as the first "computer program" (Plant, 1997). 11 is not static, but is intimately connected to cultural productions. The communicative space on the Internet seems to give individuals and institutions the opportunity to produce and reproduce any kind of narrative, to promote and disseminate text as image, as misspelled sentences or correct ones, as muddled thoughts or clear ones. Texts can be copied, imported, linked, rephrased, and altered. Arguably, Internet technology allocates the same amount of space to each narrative and does not discriminate against any presentation of texts as long as they fit its format. Internet technologies open the door for a person to write and exchange one's own narrative, be it for promoting deschooling, entertaining cyber-relationships, finding channels to publish a new genre or providing easily accessible information on any imaginable topic. It appears that Internet communication upsets the order of discourse insofar as it potentially facilitates uncensored speech for large and small groups, dominant and marginalized individuals alike. In its emancipatory potential, it also offers us a space to construct and share our own narrative, breaking the silence against heteronormative, phallogocentric or other kinds of disciplining and compartmentalizing discourses. In telling stories, we can experiment with, construct, and express our selves. In her discussion of computer games for girls, Cassell (1998: 300-1) writes: In fact, we might use the computer as the very site for children to make meanings, express themselves, and play out the range of identities that will constitute themselves. [....] I argue that the ideal playing field for the construction of self is storytelling and other kinds of narrative activity. Part of engaging in narrative activities on the computer for girls, so Cassell (ibid.:321) suggests, is generally to "[extend] the notion of what a 'girl' is to a more dynamic context-dependent, performative notion" and to explore non-stereotypical aspects of themselves. Writing text, on the Internet for example, is a way to hold a power of construction. 12 However, with respect to the Internet, the computer is more than "an input device, [...] a listener to children's problems, to their deepest secrets" (Cassell, ibid.:320). The computer is not just a replacement for the stuffed animal or the pil low who listens to children's secrets while remaining silent, but a technology of interaction at the intersection of fantasy and everyday life. Internet technologies facilitate connecting narratives to various other narratives. Information can be found, linked, connected, and woven in ways which otherwise may not have been possible. Landow (1994:6) points out that "linking is the most important factor about hypertext, particularly as it contrasts to the world of print technology." Linking texts - and texts can include letters, graphics, video, and sound - with one another is a form of actively weaving informative and highly individualized connections "without central points, organizing principles, hierarchies" (Plant, 1997:10). Linking texts requires selecting links and creating one's "own" narrative. This reading and writing technique on the Internet conjures up associations to "I-way" (Ess, 1996:1) which can be understood not only as an "Information Superhighway" that makes possible linking information at a high speed and efficiency. It can also stand for an 'individualized or individualizing way' that highlights the readers' choice of their own paths through an enormous set of possibilities. Internet technologies highlight the textual possibilities of being always open-ended and never complete. Hypertexts need to be navigated by following and linking webs beyond their physicality. B y the feature of linking, the Internet can facilitate making individualized connections, but also weaving collectivized connections by offering a space for narratives which can link together individuals, groups, or institutions. The "I-way" 13 is then a way of both accessing and linking information or knowledge quickly. B y arranging the digital threads of networks, the readers organize texts and thus, engage in reconstructing them in "intrinsic separation from the physical object" (Landow, 1994: 15). This allows for a greater abstraction from the body. Within the textualized world of the Internet, one can explore a sense of self which may not be easily talked about. Also , it can be a powerful tool to establish connections that otherwise may be difficult to access. Collectivized connections through the Internet show that there is space where the silence of, for example, shame and secrecy about physiological processes and social mishaps can be broken. The Tampax's TRoom for pre-teenagers and teenagers, for example, offers a link to a virtual space Tinanet (http://www.troom.com/tinanet) where girls can share "funny or plain embarrassing stories" from their physiological and social processes of becoming a woman. In quasi-anonymity girls publish their stories via the Tampax website and create new discursive networks. In a more distant form of symbolic exchange, words may be written which otherwise would not be spoken and social connections are formed which otherwise would not have been possible. Through the Internet readers can somewhat easily access what Goffman (1959:112) called the "back region" or the "backstage". With merely an Internet address9, one can communicate narratives from the backstage, the area that is usually "closed to members of the audience." A reconstruction of the boundaries of the backstage point to a shift in a boundaries of public knowledge made possible through communication technologies. 14 Stageflight It was the first time I was ever in a school play. The only reason I'd decided to try out in the first place was because the cutest guy in school was starring in it. When I found out I'd gotten the part of the female star I was so happy! On opening night the theater was totally crowded. In the middle of our performance I had to turn around with my back to the audience to pick up a piece of paper. After I picked it up, I turned around to find everyone either laughing or talking. I looked at my totally hot co-star and asked him what had happened. He said I had started my period which had stained the entire backside of my pants. There wasn't a clear spot on them! My co-star walked behind me, escorting me off the stage. He whispered into my ear that it was okay. Better yet, he later told the audience that it was all part of the play!10 Internet texts can shift the boundaries of'secrecies' of what it is like to be a girl . Girls online can plug into this world of a school play that places the experience of the "embarrassing moment" onto the front stage and thereby integrates the usually hidden menstrual stain into a play. The "cutest boy" appears as the rescuer in the scene and conjures up notions of reconstructing the unpleasant backstage into an "okay", "playful" experience on the front stage. This points to a shift in the boundaries of embarrassment from the attempt to keeping it secret to playing it out in public. While it is certainly not every girl's experience when staining their pants in public to be in company of a sympathetic boy, in the fantastic reality of this play a new experience is created nevertheless as an entirely imaginable menstrual scenario. However, absorbed into a fiction rather than into 'real' everyday life, the interpretive framework of the experience of an "embarrassing moment" also remains somewhat fictional and abstracted from a real life experience. Texts are expressions of play and desire through characters o f both fiction and everyday life. Internet technologies weave discursive networks which 9 The text on the Tampax website promises: "In order to submit a personal response to Tinanet, your e-mail address will be included in your post. After your submission is received we will delete your e-mail address from our records. For this feature we will not collect or store your e-mail address." 15 facilitate a place for rewriting bodily desires. While in the example above desire in the form of heteronormativity between " the menstruating girl" and the "cutest guy" still prevails, we cannot be sure anymore who the author of the text is. Is it 'really' a girl? Is it a true story or is it a play off someone's fantasy period? With such textual mediation-at-a-distance, possibly beyond the identifiable physicality o f the user, new textual formations may come into being and old notions of one person inhabiting one body are challenged (Stone, 1995:20). The decentralizing qualities o f making individualized and collectivized text by hypertext technologies transform a text in its old-fashioned assumption of unity and fixity, thereby opening up the writing and reading of text to new fantasies and possibilities. However, new textual formations also need to take into account a history of rewriting desire in order to examine its relations to discursive and material relations to others. A s Braidotti suggests, a modern history of sexuality has already rewritten our bodies and created a human unity subjected to a category of sex. Braidotti (1994:56) states, [A] living sexed organism has a unity of its own, which hangs on a thread: the thread of desire in its inextricable relation to language and therefore to others. Threads of desire are part of textual relations and thus, part of a body of social relations. For example, heterosexuality is still considered one of the achievements of normal passage into adulthood (Adams, 1997:10), coupled with the institution o f the 'family'. Challenging the heterosexual normativity by subversive interpretations of the identities or relationship between protagonists would From the Tinarchive 29 (embarrassing stories of the month of October 1998) retrieved from the Tampax website at http://troom.com/tinanet/tinarchive29.html 16 encourage readers to place themselves and others within alternative scripts 1 1. Reading and writing differently would allow for the emergence of figures whose social relations and selves subvert heterosexual assumptions of present and future worlds. Such rewriting of narratives and sharing them with others, or the production of counter-narratives, aims at challenging the constitutive features of dominant texts, that is, narratives of normativity and the institutions coupled with them. While identifiable components of Internet communication often begin with clarifications of sex and gender, 1 2 they also go far beyond common assumptions of a girl/woman or a boy/man sitting at a computer reading and writing texts. A n interface mediates between the body and associated subjectivities and highlights sex and gender more clearly not only as physical but also as social formations. A s a social formation at physical distance, one can entertain fantasies of any combination of sex and gender identities and thereby navigate through any combinations of subject positions. People online can play with and try out subjectivities and disrupt assumptions of a fixed belonging to a sex category, female or male, or to sets of gender behaviours and thoughts associated with femininity and masculinity. This means that computer technology can mediate these categories. Thus, what remains to be seen is whether one could change a 11 In her article Brownian Motion, Penley (1991) argues that creating and sharing homo-erotic Star Trek versions as alternative narratives to and heteronomative readings of the television series story line facilitates a rewriting and manipulating of sexual romances across 'real' or 'fictional' bodies to the desired ending of the writers. Subversive interpretations of the relationship between two of the main Star Trek protagonists Kirk and Spock emerge through new technologies of electronic writing. 1 2 Kendall (1998) points out that much of online interactions still perpetuate a rigidly binary understanding of the gender system and that the online world does not provide a haven from prejudicial treatment. I found it interesting to join a variety of mainstream chatrooms and before long, I was asked to identify my gender and my age. My refusal to give away gender cues or to tell my age resulted in a refusal to chat with me. 17 political economy of, for example, heterosexuality and stereotypical sets of gendered positions through taking on a fantasy script of subjectivity. What comes into being through texts consists of complex social processes which rewrite human bodies whereby the outcomes may be ambiguous and multiple, but always deal with stereotypical meanings and functions of sex and gender subjectivities, as I shall explore more fully in Chapter two. Defining the computer simply as a tool with which to write and read texts ignores computer technology in its facilitation of a social space. A further definition of text, from the Latin textus, stands for "style or texture of work; originally, the thing woven, from texere to weave" (The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology, 1988:1129). Conceiving of the Internet as a textual and social space, with text as rooted in weaving, suggests a broader approach to thinking about the relations between "the identifiable components of the user and the used" (Plant, 1997:77). The merging of textual and social space as two concomitant aspects of the decentralizing and bi-directional qualities of Internet communication is significant for a vision of an emancipatory potential of Internet technologies and helps us to differentiate Internet environments from other communication situations. If we agree that "language and writing are themselves powerful technologies" (Landow, 1994:33), then weaving together texts on the peripheries may reorder the threads of the male-dominated and hierarchical social fabric (Plant, 1997). In other words, weaving into a network of existing social relations is bound to affect a social fabric. L iv ing and networking on the peripheries of authorized and authoritative texts, Internet users may be able to produce new social information, that is, to draw meaning 13 Challenging normative text also speaks to issues of transgenderism and transsexism. 18 from within networks of symbolic exchange which enable an articulation and rearticulation o f the discursively constructed 'bodies'. Internet technologies also facilitate experiences, whether real or hyperreal, beyond the tangible social relations of our everyday life, or beyond our own physical body for that matter. It seems that with a certain number of textual prostheses, as with the artificial help of computers to create (counter-)narratives and new communicative spaces, discursive constructions of any-body and any-thing become possible. While the images of 'man and his tool' have not ceased to exist as identifiable components of a technological world, through new communication and information technologies emerges the possibility for a discursively constructed technosubjectivity 1 4. While the figure of'thinking man and his tool' may bring forth the essentializing components of'thinking woman and her tool', technosubjectivity designates both the blurring of these elements, and the potential for reconstruction of subjectivities through technology. However, how do we think of our selves as embodiments of technosubjectivities? How can discursive constructions of technosubjectivities be alternatives to and emancipatory innovations on 'thinking binary gender and tool'? What images or figures of humanity emerge in relation to our technological society? To give some answers to these questions, writing, reading, and linking text on the Internet needs to be understood in the context of far more complex processes which take us beyond the literary and discursive meaning of text, to include the relationship between 14 Bryson and de Castell (1996:123) suggest that "relations between gender and new technologies can productively be understood by means of a "discursive analysis" of representative texts". They propose that postmodern theorizing offers different epistemological and ontological possibilities of gendered beings in conjunction with technology. I infer that such a discursive analysis implies an investigation into the inseparable relationships between gender and technology, whereby neither gender nor technology can be seen by itself and essentializing categories of gender are rejected. 19 subjectivities and technologies. This is necessary because not only do we subject ourselves to the constitutive features of texts and hypertexts, but also to the very technology which makes them possible. Plant (1997:11-2) writes: Just as individuated texts have become filaments of infinitely tangled webs, so the digital machines of the late twentieth century weave new networks from what were once isolated words, numbers, music, shapes, smells, tactile textures, architectures, and countless channels as yet unnamed. Media become interactive and hyperactive, the multiplicitous components of an immersive zone which "does not begin with writing; it is directly related to the weaving of elaborate figured silks." The yam is neither metaphorical nor literal, but quite simply material, a gathering of threads which twist and turn through the history of computing, technology, the sciences and arts. Weaving together textual threads into new narratives cannot be understood simply in a logocentric world-view; words alone cannot weave together a new social fabric, radically revising identities and social relations and making it possible to overturn the old world order (Moulthrop, 1994). A s Plant (1997:12) suggests, "the yarn is neither metaphorical nor literal, but quite simply material". Thus, the notion of text needs to be extended beyond its literary and discursive meaning, to include the material and historical production and processes of our selves and of'the thing woven'. Text as technique and technology: More complex processes A s bodies capable of communication, we are discursive bodies able to establish discourse communities. Chatrooms, mail lists, or simply electronic mail exchanges are spaces for social interaction. Increasingly, our selves and the world within which we live, work, play, and express desire are represented through textual productions using computer technology. In lieu of a direct face-to-face interaction there is an interface. The interface is a mediator. In an interview, Stone (in: Lebkowsky, 1993) gives a dynamic definition of interface: 2 0 A [good] way to look at [a definition of interface] is that an interface is that thing which mediates between a body and an associated subjectivity, an associated person. But it doesn't have to be_this_body_and_this_person, it can be_this_body_and_some_other_person [sic]. It's the thing which provides some link between those two things, wherever they are. That's the definition you use naturally when you're in the Internet, you know, when you are in your body at the terminal and your self is actually pouring out through your fingers to someone else in the world. This view emphasizes the materiality of bodies at computers and on the Internet. Yet, at the same time, it emphasizes the fluidity of bodies at the terminal. H o w can we think of the concreteness and evasiveness of a body at a computer that is both delineating itself by a physical body, yet simultaneously blurring its bodily boundaries by "pouring out through the fingers to someone else in the world" (Stone, ibid.)? O 'Nei l l (1985:16ff.) distinguishes the physical body from the communicative body, whereby he sees both bodies as a "unity comprising incredible variety, depending on social and historical circumstances". The communicative body and the physical body are inextricably linked to one another. However, the physical body is not just a l iving mass of bones and flesh, but itself an expression of our selves and our medium to experience the everyday world we live in. The new social spaces and social formations created through computer technologies consist as a forum for social relations, but are not in themselves physical. Meeting someone online through text challenges understandings of our embodied 'selves' in relation to others. Within these webs, "where meet, body, place means something quite different", our "textually mediated physicality" can be reshaped through the actions o f texts (Stone, 1995:37). These texts are not just mediated by computer technologies, but also made possible by computer technology. It appears that increasingly, the computer and the Internet have become tools for accessing a social space, and thus, for experiencing our social relations and selves. Corporeality refers to the embodiment of 21 bodily practices and discourses, so that a body in virtual reality w i l l always return to a 'real' body. A s such, it may blur with technoreality, that is, with the way we abstract and distance the body from its subjectivities. A t the close of the mechanical age, Stone (1991:105) writes, [t]he boundaries between the subject, if not the body, and the "rest of the world" are undergoing a radical reconfiguration, brought about in part through the mediation of technology. [...] the boundaries between technology and nature are themselves in the midst of deep restructuring. This means that many of the usual analytical categories have become unreliable for making the useful distinctions between the biological and the technological, the natural and the artificial, the human and the mechanical [...]. A radical reconfiguration of boundaries between the subject and the "rest of the world" invites us to think about reshaping potentialities and possibilities of our bodies as the intersection o f our subjectivities through the mediation of technology. Such a body-centred approach to thinking reconfigurations of our social relations and selves comes now with the problem that it is not so clear anymore what shape the human body takes, or what person inhabits what body. Technology itself is part of an expression of our selves. Through digital technology, the bodily structure is blurred by a powerful kind of technomorphism 1 5 which makes it "imperative that we think the unity of body and machine, flesh and metal" (Braidotti, 1994:93). Yet, at the same time, when the bodily structure is blurred with the technological and the artificial, we have to ask, what shape shall our body take or how can we think of our bodies in relation to Internet technologies in an emancipatory way? This leads us to the question of control. Who and what are part of shaping and reshaping life? Thinking our selves and social relations online through writing and reading texts is both a discursive as well as material process which must be understood through its 22 history and materiality (Braidotti, 1994; Stone, 1995). In other words, we must not forget the historico-material bonds between texts and bodies while we are online creating new hypertexts. This kind of thinking emphasizes the constitutive features not just o f texts, but also of technologies. The potentials of new communication technologies award the Internet a place in a long history of texts that rewrite human bodies. O ' N e i l l (1985) offers us a useful terminology which takes into account the historico-material bond between texts and bodies, but expands the notion of text beyond its linguistic and discursive meanings to include techniques and technologies of the self and society. He argues that there has been a shift from history as biotext to history as sociotext. A history as biotext describes the processes of giving history and society a human 1 6 shape. History as sociotext expresses the more recent emergence of technologies 1 7 for rewriting nature , including the human body, mind, and emotions by the complex of human sciences and textually mediated social organizations. This shift entails a superimposition of technomorphous characters onto our human bodies by the technologies of late capitalism. It includes Internet technologies as a means of shaping bodies verbally and semiotically, and configuring them in an electronic environment. I think the shift also encourages us to think of the constructions of our selves and the world in their historical contingency. A journey back into our bodily history of modernity gives 15 Technomorphism is juxtaposed with anthropomorphism which I take from O'Neill (1985) as giving 'the world' a technological shape versus giving 'the world' - here, in particular, human beings and their institutions - a human shape. 16 The Western history of this giving of a human shape includes the creative forces of androcentricity and phallogocentricity as powers over female/ feminine subjectivities which, of course, needs to be analyzed in its historical specificity. 17 One of the most extreme contemporary examples of these rewriting techniques is the bioengineering which rewrites the DNA body-text (Braidotti, 1994; O'Neill, 1985). 'Nature' should not be read in opposition to culture. Perhaps, 'nature' should be read as 'the wildness of the body'. 23 us an understanding of our body as a site of power and politics and as a site that embodies the sum of our subjectivities. Consider, for example, the 'nature of women'. I take the case of Tampax to exemplify modern sanitary technology and the changes it has brought about in the natural flow of life for women. Various discursive strategies have been employed by the feminine protection industry aiming at women to habitually incorporate 'liberating hygiene' products. On July 26, 1936, Tampax Inc. launched its first mass market advertisement for their "sanitary protection worn internally" with the title Welcome to this new day for Womanhood (Houppert, 1999; Museum of Menstruation at www.mum.org). With this, Tampax Inc. proposed an explicit change in how to manage the flow of women's everyday life experiences. Designed to protect women from "embarrassment", but also Tampax Inc. economically, the advertisement promised: It seems too good, too impossible to be true. But... at last... a method of sanitary protection has been perfected that enables you to be completely free of embarrassment... completely comfortable... completely sure of safe protection. [...] Your doctor will tell you that Tampax is the most natural and the most hygienic method of sanitary protection... accepted for advertising by the American Medical Association. Thousands of women have already tried Tampax and would no sooner go back to the old-fashioned napkin than they would to the methods of in use fifteen years ago. [••••] Tampax is quite simple to use and it provides a freedom and daintiness never before possible. No belts. No pins. No pads. No chafing. No binding. Tampax eliminates odor because it prevents its formation. Tampax provides complete sanitary protection ... safe at all times. It stays in place, through the outmost strenuous sports, yet it can be removed in a moment's time. And you are totally unconscious of it [Tampax's emphases]. This text promises a new body politic that "enables you to be completely free of embarrassment". The embodiment of the tampon is suggested as a strategy to give new shape to women's lives. This ultimately invisible technology of "safe protection" is an artificial medium incorporated into the human female body as "the most natural and 24 hygienic method". Tampax suggests rewriting the nature of women and thereby reorders boundaries between what is natural and artificial, what is biological and technological. Tampax attempts to reshape the female body in such way that the embodiment of tampons becomes part of her "nature", and thus, of a normative script for femaleness. Here, we can recall what O'Neill (1985) termed a shift from history as biotext to history as sociotext that alerts us to the social processes of rewriting, i f not controlling nature by superimposing a technomorphous face onto the female body which fundamentally changes an understanding of nature. What counts as women's nature is defined by those who hold the power over life. Here, this corporate power is textually mediated by scientific knowledge. In the names of freedom and daintiness and with streaks of medical discourse,18 a new sanitary technology is suggested as a natural method of controlling women's menstrual emissions with an assurance of safety at all times. Along with a rhetoric that creates the panic of smelly female bodies from which the public needs to be protected goes the inscription of desire for a modern understanding of cleanliness through a new sanitary technology that replaces previous and, as Tampax suggests, obsolete and torturous ways of dealing with menstruation. The deep level of restructuring the boundaries between technology and nature ultimately finds its place in the unconscious. This psychic inscription is hinted at when Tampax promises women to be "totally unconscious of it" and thus, suggests a voluntary amnesia about this technology of capitalism once it has become incorporated. This inscription through a technology that 1 8 With the phrase "Accepted for Advertising by the American Medical Association" (AMA) Tampax wanted to align itself to the discursive power of medical science. Yet, as Houppert (1999:16) points out, Tampax did not have the approval or endorsement of the AMA for its new product. Houppert (ibid.) writes that Tampax's founder, Ellery Mann, intended this tag line to lend "an ethical as well as medical background to the product." In 1943, at the Federal Trade Commission's request, Tampax dropped the phrase. 25 rewrites girl bodies and minds can be understood in terms of what I described earlier as a history as sociotext, whereby Tampax aims at destroying the memory of a natural and wild body. Women who wanted to experience this 'new day for womanhood' needed to acquaint themselves with this new text and technology. Texts such as the one above can be read, as Smith (1999:150) does in her analysis of a textual specimen of sociological theory, as a dialogue between reader and text, whereby the reader, by reading the text, activates the text. Thus, the text can "creep into her consciousness [...] - not necessarily forcing the reader to agree with it, of course, but to adopt its organizing framework in selecting and interpreting other texts" (ibid.). While a text enters a dialogue with the communicative body, it also suggests a subjectification of the physical body. Not only does a reader enter a dialogue with a 'text of menstruation', but with it a whole set of biological and cultural constructions and relations. In this dialogue between text and body, a corporate economy linked girls and women to their texts and began to suggest incorporating a new "menstrual etiquette" (Houppert, 1999:3) for womanhood. Today, Tampax corporate communications uses Internet technologies and a virtual persona, Tina, as a girl figure to mediate the menstrual etiquette of feminine protection for real women. The case of Tampax serves me as an illustrative exploration of the texts, techniques, and technologies involved in the subjectification of bodies. It is well suited for a body-centred critique of constructing gendered and sexualized bodies through communication and information technologies. The Tampax website is an example of modern corporate culture making use of such technologies to give direction to female bodies in the attempt to sell their products. In other words, Tampax is taking the female 26 body as the natural target to market its products. With this, Tampax conveys certain ideas about who and what is a 'woman'. 'Bodily functions' and 'female sex' seem to lie at the basis for instilling certain ideas about what makes a woman womanly or a girl girly. In the historical processes of reshaping the female body, in order to get her to function in a new way, Tampax appears as a significant capitalist power over female life. However, the body politic is highly complex and my exploration of its historical processes that reshape female bodies can only be fragmented. The body is a site where power over life can be exercised, where forces work on the constitution of the subject. O'Neill (1985:18) writes: We conceive of public order dualistically, that is to say, as the rule of mind over matter, or of reason over senses. In this view, our bodies are the unwilling servants of the moral and intellectual order. Thus we need to discipline our bodies to achieve excellence, to enter heaven, or to endure the passivity of sitting in a lecture hall to gather the good news of sociology [...] This is a provocative statement, but it invites us to understand the concomitant disciplining effects of the technologies and techniques of 'civilizing' our body as a site of power and politics. The analytic distinction between the physical and communicative body is helpful to understand the power of material and discursive forces upon the willing or unwilling body of society, to understand the subjugation of bodies. At the same time, it points to a dialogical relationship between discourse and embodiment, between thinking and embodying. Thus, the historical images of disciplined bodies which I will provide will help to understand some of the complex everyday techniques and technologies at work to seduce human bodies into performances of gender relations and identities through texts. A journey back into a bodily history, recounted through Elias and Foucault, can illustrate the materiality of this yarn weaving human figures into social relations and selves through various techniques and technologies. The following brief discussion on the 27 emergence of historical images of'civilized' bodies contributes to thinking selves through the complex processes of embodying texts. This journey back into bodily histories gives us an understanding of our body as a site of power and politics, as a site of struggle and desire. Embodying thought through bodily habits To describe how history becomes written on our bodies through bodily techniques, I summarize historical images of everyday body politics recounted by Elias (1939 [1978]; 1939 [1997]). Although he does not provide us with a fully elaborated, differentiated reading along the lines of sex or gender, I think he offers us useful examples that describe attempts to inscribe certain standards of 'appropriately' relating to the 'civilized', western world. His analyses of microprocesses of the body politic are to be seen as part of larger processes of civilization. Thus, in a next step of 'civilization' that Tampax implicitly suggests with its phrase "welcome to this new day for womanhood," they also provide larger historical and social context for understanding the incorporation of Tampax tampons as a technique for controlling bodily functions. Elias (1978) describes a 'civilizing process' in the late Middle Ages and early modern period in which bodies became subjugated through subtle and elaborate controls of bodily functions. Elias (1997:41) used successive books of manners as a textual source of evidence to show how the standards of human behaviour and psychical structure shift in a direction of a gradual "civilization." I take Elias' (1978; 1997) examples of'emitting wind' and 'using the fork'. As mundane, everyday life habits as menstruating and using 28 tampons are, they can be illuminated to exemplify an incorporation of texts as bodily techniques; the body is central to their inscription. In his study of table manners, Elias (1978) cites Erasmus who wrote in 1530 that if a fart could be purged without a noise that would be best, but that it was better to emit a fart with a noise than to hold it back; for those who felt embarrassed, they should follow "the advice of doctors, to press their buttocks together" or at least hide the explosive wind by a cough. In 1619, Weste's rule states: "Retaine not urine nor the winde// which doth thy body vex// so be it done with secresie// let that not thee perplex". From La Salle, in 1729, who transmits the behaviour of the upper classes to broader circles, we learn: It is very impolite to emit wind from your body when in company, either from above or below, even when it is done without wind. [....] It is never proper to speak of the parts of the body that should be hidden, nor of certain bodily necessities to which Nature has subjected us, nor even to mention them. Elias (1978:133) remarks that in La Salle's 1774 edition, some passages from the earlier edition were omitted, and thus "much that could be and had to be expressed earlier is no longer spoken of: an advancement of a "feeling of delicacy" was settling in. A bodily function like farting was first only addressed with slight feelings of shame and repugnance and "subjected only mildly to isolation and restraint"; but later a stricter regulation and control of impulses and emotions was imposed by the people of higher social rank who then attempted to exert pressure from above. However, rather than studying this (class) pressure as a subordination of the body to a socio-political superstructure, it may make more sense to pay attention to the microprocesses of the body politic. The social and psychological dynamics at play then, as Elias (1997:52) suggests, forced people to become more sensitive to the impulses of others and to learn to subject their own conduct to more subtle and elaborate forms. 29 Another example of the 'civilizing process', or the disciplining of the body, is the use of the fork. Elias suggests that the suppression of eating by hand from one's plate has little to do with hygienic concerns, or with any other so-called rational explanation. Rather, the "fork is nothing other than the embodiment of a specific standard of emotions and a specific level of revulsion" (Elias, 1997:52). Some randomly selected examples by Elias show that the feeling of distaste that first formed within a narrow circle, a feeling that it is impolite to touch something greasy with one's fingers, is slowly extended in the latter part of the seventeenth century. Behind the change in eating techniques, or more generally bodily techniques, lies a gradual change in the structure of drives and emotions. The embodiment of a social etiquette, of a certain kind of social standard, went along with inscribing new desires and feelings about bodily conduct as part of'civilization'. The etiquette governing the emissions of wind or eating with a fork was spread gradually from the Middle Ages "from the standard setting circles to larger circles by numerous authorities and institutions" (1997:53). Institutions, such as the feudal courts or, later on, the family, became endowed with the function of inculcating the standards of conduct. Elias (1978:140) notes that these standards of conduct are characterized by a profound discrepancy between the behaviour of so-called adults and children. In their childhood, people are "moulded" into conformity to certain standards, such as using the fork when eating or suppressing a fart when at school or at church, by external regulation and compulsion, by a disciplined effort motivated by 'civilizing reasons'. Later, such bodily techniques "become more and more an inner automatism, the imprint of society on the inner self [...] through a self-restraint which may operate even against [the individual's] conscious wishes" (Elias, 1997:54). Surely, standards for what is offensive 30 have been established within a particular societal framework, and yet they must continually be reproduced both consciously and unconsciously through and by the bodily techniques inculcated by institutions which shape and reshape human needs, human relations, and standards of conduct. It is possible now to see the myriad fields where self-restraining techniques take a hold of the human body, and also to follow a history producing and reproducing societal standards of behaviour and psychical makeup. Instilling these standards may begin from early childhood on. This is well expressed by Elias (1997:42) when he writes that "[by] a kind of a 'sociogenetic [and psychogenetic] law' the individual, in his [or her] short history, passes once more through some of the processes that this society has traversed in its long history". With Elias, I think of the child who negotiates the adoption or inculcation of these bodily techniques. Some of the bodily techniques such as using the fork may be eventually experienced as naturalized, but as Elias suggests, they are always dependent on socio-historical processes. When Tampax in their advertisement of 1936 suggested that "your doctor w i l l tell you that Tampax is the most natural and the most hygienic method of sanitary protection," they played on these processes of'naturalization' while inscribing a new bodily technique. Tampax emerged as a new thing that, according to their makers, made all other things obsolete, old-fashioned. The assertion that "thousands of women have already tried Tampax and would [not] go back to the old-fashioned napkin," was a call to jo in the latest community of women and not lag behind the modern times. The modern woman in her everyday life was presented as carrying Tampax in a purse-size package, riding horses, playing tennis, ball-room dancing, and beach bathing. The representation 31 of this new bodily technique and the allusion to medical authority point directly to the standard setting circle that knows what is best for women and what women are supposed to desire. Texts and images of this new day of womanhood were calling on women for a control of bodily emissions, thereby providing a larger set of societal rules of etiquette for embodying femininity. Thus, through these texts we can study these microprocesses of the body politic and understand how "young women learn both the arts and the doctrines of femininity from [...] texts providing the standards and practices of a femininity diversified by age, class, race, and 'style of life'" (Smith, 1990:199). This approach helps us to rethink ourselves as historical beings. The technologies through which we constitute ourselves and through which we are constituted have a history which is imprinted on our body as we adopt certain bodily techniques. Thinking of ourselves as historical beings, as beings shaped and reshaped by the 'civilizing' process, involves thinking of ourselves as reproducing bodily habits and as being integrated into a network of institutions. But as much as standards of conduct and libidinal controls integrate human beings into a new order, they also differentiate them according to sex, gender, class, race, age and other categories of subjectivity. Elias (1997:58) notes: The 'civilizing' process, seen from the aspects of standards of conduct and drive control, is the same trend which, when seen from the point of view of human relationships, appears as the process of advancing integration, increased differentiation of social functions and interdependence, and the formation of ever larger units of integration on whose fortunes and movements the individual depends, whether he [or she] knows it or not. The physical body as the site for embedding these functions, and the communicative body as the site of reproducing the interdependence of the societal dynamics between individuals and groups, between selves and institutions, become 'seeable' through such mundane bodily practices as using the fork: the individual needs to use a fork as an 32 expression of politeness and decency, as an expression of, for example, 'adulthood' or 'class', in a given situation. Similarly, a new sanitary protection technology integrated women's bodies into scripts of feminine protection as a further step towards 'civilization'. The word protection is very effective when it conjures up a presupposition that something or somebody needs to be in a state of being protected. Feminine protection in the form of tampons appeared at a particular moment in history as a specific way of talking about and regulating girls and women. Like using a fork, using tampons can be seen as part of larger processes for regulating bodily habits. Tampax, the "the most hygienic method of sanitary protection [that] provides a freedom and daintiness never before possible [and] eliminates odor" painted a certain image of women's bodies. This female/ feminine body was constructed to be in need of incorporating a new bodily practice to control her bodily emissions; menstruation became an expression of managing female hygiene, daintiness, and bodily odor19 with a rhetoric of freedom. Buying and using tampons was suggested to be the 'most natural' technique for the modern woman to absorb the menstrual flow. Yet, beyond this, tampons became tools for protecting the rest of society from a wild notion of girl or woman with an unruly body. So-called protection of femininity is applied to girls and women for the regulation of their social conduct and 20 thereby reaches wider circles than merely using tampons when having one's period . As I shall describe more in Chapter Two, tampons emerged also as tools to establish certain attributes of femininity. Tampax tampons were promoted as part of a 'natural' configuration of womanhood, of particular codes of modern femaleness and femininity 1 9 Houppert (1999) points out that the feminine protection industry has successfully played on the myth of woman's body odor during menstruation. 33 that needed to be guarded. With this, Tampax inserted itself into women's lives to promote their product and the idea that women buy this ambivalent notion of freedom -with strings attached. A s the advertisement tells us, in 1936 thousands of women had already subjected themselves to a new means of controlling and disciplining their "bleeding" bodies. A "sanitary protection worn internally" came to represent their experiences for having a female body. Through a sanitary technology, an identity of the female body was promoted that would subject itself to the use of Tampax. In this dialogue, the corporate economy linked women from their seemingly common ground of female bodies to menstrual products. The categories of sex, sexuality and gender, of female and feminine soon came to overlap and blur in a discursive construction of womanhood and the 'naturalness' o f tampon use. Here, Foucault's method of describing the subjugation of bodies to a discourse of sex and sexuality helps me to explicate some of the material and semiotic processes and to unravel "textual figures" of womanhood. Subjugating Sexual Bodies Foucault (1978) analyzes the body and the self in terms of the emergence of sexual rationality which, as w i l l become apparent, draws even wider circles than the rationality and disciplining technique of using the fork or of farting. In doing so, his "objective [...] has been to create a history of the different modes by which, in our culture, human beings are made subjects" (Foucault, 1984:8). We can understand this 2 0 Interestingly, menstruation is referred to in French as "les regies" and in German as "die Regel" which illustrates more clearly the regulative aspect of the recurring period. Menstruation appears as a bodily function that needs to be strictly "ruled". 34 subjectification in two ways: a human being as subject o/knowledges and as being subjected by practices (Owen, 1994:224). A s Foucault (1978) shows, human beings in the modern Occident have been subjected to the will to knowledge regarding sex and to practices which are constitutive of the sense of self and her/ his relation to the 'world'. In The History of Sexuality, Foucault (1978) describes the subjectification of human beings to the technology of sex. The body emerges as a material site where the (sexual) subject is constituted by bodily techniques and technologies as strategies of employing rational power over individuals. Foucault (1978:140; my emphasis) writes: In concrete terms, starting in the seventeenth century, this power over life evolved in two basic forms [...] the first [...] centred on the body as machine [...] the second, formed somewhat later, focused on the species body... Sex emerged as the site where ascetic truth-telling is linked to the subjectification of individuals. Foucault (1978:17) notes that since the seventeenth century human beings have been subjected to a flood of sexualized discourse. He observes that "around and apropos of sex, one sees a veritable discursive explosion." Far from seeing sex "repressed," he recognizes the multiplication of discourses concerning sex and the "institutional incitement to speak about it" (ibid.: 18). Thus, Foucault (ibid.:63) sees the historical development of confessional technologies operating to increase control over sex. A s I w i l l more fully describe in Chapter two, the TRoom is a digital space for girls to confess their bodily and social mishaps, in particular on Tinanet where they are called to confess their stories of fun and embarrassment. B y writing about humiliating experiences in anonymity, girls can acquire a sense of freedom to express themselves and of belonging to a collectivity of girls. In doing so, they subject themselves freely to a 35 discourse of feminine protection and thus, to a discursive construction of girls in need of control. Stated in more general terms, through the practice of confessional technologies, human beings constitute themselves as subjects and are produced as objects. The sexual body is turned into an object through a proliferation of pedagogic, medical, psychiatric discourses. In talking about girl bodies, their menstruation, and thus, reproductive system, Tampax's TRoom makes for a digital space of knowledge production with respect to girls and girls' sexuality ^  Foucault (1978) shows how sexuality became a 'strategic unity' and thus, a technology or an instrument of power even more encompassing of the human being than table manners or a menstrual etiquette. He does not conceive power monolithically, but rather as consisting of innumerable social strategies. Foucault (1978:103-5, my emphasis) writes: In a first approach to the problem, it seems that we can distinguish four great strategic unities which, beginning in the eighteenth century, formed specific mechanisms of knowledge and power centring on sex [....]: 1. a hysterization of women's bodies [....]; 2. the pedagogization of children's sex [....]; 3. a socialization of procreative behaviour [...]; 4. a psychiatrization of perverse pleasure [....]. Four figures emerged from this preoccupation with sex, which mounted throughout the nineteenth century - four privileged objects of knowledge, which were also targets and anchorage points of ventures of knowledge: the hysterical woman, the masturbating child, the Malthusian couple, and the perverse adult. Knowledge depends on a body to link itself to and is directed at bodies in the attempt to subject them. Discursive constructions of these bodily "targets" construct figures of medical and psychological knowledge. 36 One year before Tampax Inc. launched the mass market advertisement for its novelty o f a tampon with applicator, Kotex , 2 1 the first mass market maker o f disposable pads in the 1920's, sponsored the Canadian publication of a booklet on menstruation. 2 2 Targeting the same potential consumers of their sanitary products as Tampax, Kotex marks the days of womanhood beginning with menstruation. In their 1920's booklet "Preparing for womenhood", Kotex writes: As girlhood ends and womanhood begins, important changes take place throughout the entire body. When these changes are complete, Nature tells us so by a most dramatic sign. A flow of blood, lasting for several days, is discharged through the vaginal opening of the body. This flow is known as menstruation. [••••] Proper care during menstruation must consider both the physical and the mental care. For there is a very close connection between the nervous system and menstruation.23 The transition from girl to woman is constructed through the interchange of menstruation and femaleness and is seen as marking the beginning of womanhood mentally and physically. Girls are constructed as subjects of a scientific-medical discourse, whereby the need for 'proper care', or for proper control, is suggested. Girls begin to emerge as systems to be controlled for proper functioning of body and mind. In Foucault's study, a discourse of sex was cast onto the individual as an identity of the actor whereby species of figures are born. 2 4 Through these figures, theories of sex can cast a normative gaze over the individual (Owen, 1994:185). It is in this "discourse [of sex and science] that power and knowledge are joined together" (Foucault, 1978:100). Although Smith (1999:134) rightly criticizes Foucault's notion of discourse for implying 2 1 It is interesting to notice that today, Procter & Gamble Co. who acquired Tambrands in 1997 (Tampax Inc. changed its name to Tambrands in 1984) makes Always Pads, a good seller amongst various other company products, and is a competitor of Kimberley-Clark Corp., producer of Kotex. 2 2 The first booklet originally came out in 1928 and can be read online in the Australian edition (http://www.mum.org/MarMayO.htm). 2 3 retrieved from the World Web at http://www.mum.org/PrepWoman.htm 2 4 For example, through the medical category of homosexuality, the "species of the homosexual" was born (Foucault, 1978:43). 37 the stasis of the text, we can nevertheless gain some insight into the technologies at work that are fundamental to the mutually constituting qualities of institutionally-derived texts and human bodies. People who read the Tampax Advertisement in 1936 were offered representations of women who had a new knowledge about their menstruating bodies. The text presenting this new knowledge gives instructions and regulates proper use in the large subtitle: "Tampax is worn internally". Where exactly would Tampax be? To avoid the suggestion that there should be anything sexual or even titillating about that place, Tampax Inc. promised women they would be "totally unconscious" about this new form of sanitary technology. Menstruation, reproductive maturity, and sexuality became instituted as strategic unities calling women to subjugate themselves voluntarily to both a new sanitary technology and a new image of womanhood. In conjunction with the medical, psychological, and pedagogical rationale behind using Tampax tampons, this discourse on menstruation creates a 'free' and 'dainty' figure o f womanhood. Through this figure of womanhood, it is possible to see how sexuality and reproduction are exemplary o f the calculation and rational management of l iving matter where science, technology, and life become inextricably interlinked. This makes it necessary for us to inquire further into the materiality of this power. Foucault (1980a:55) points out the importance of the body in his interview "Body/ Power": [...] the great fantasy is the idea of a social body constituted by the universality of wills. Now the phenomenon of the social body is the effect not of a consensus but of the materiality of power operating on the very bodies of the individuals. Clearly, the body plays a central role in any analysis of power and scientific discourse. Through sexuality as an instrument of power, individuals have been subjected to scientific scrutiny and have thereby become subjects of knowledge. The confessional 38 technologies constitute one form of power over life which takes hold of human beings. This power over life functions as the administration o f the species body: it is invested in procreation, births, deaths, l iving standards, physical and mental health, and it works through regulatory controls (O'Neil l , 1985:137). Foucault (1978:139) terms this pole of the power over life "a biopolitics of the population". Consider again the history of menstruation, now with respect to charting "menarche", that is, girls' onset of menstruation. It is part of a writing a history of an administration of girls. Mitterauer's (1986; 1992) book Sozialgeschichte der Jugend points to the research on youth, including female sexual maturity in Western Europe. He argues that in every society there is a phase of transition from child to adult which is signified by bodily growth and sexual maturity. A s early as 1620, data on the onset of menstruation of female populations are widely available across classes and European nations. However, early data on male populations can be found to relate more to height and muscular strength than to reproductive and genital development. Generally and also in more recent history, so Mitterauer (1986:13) found, the "bodily acceleration," or more generally the physical growth of male youth is documented less than that o f female youth. Charting the first menstruation by eliciting the "confession" of girls about the onset of their period has been part of establishing a sex-specific expectation of a 'normal' biography of young women. Further, the emphasis on differences between women and men is paralleled by socio-historically specific sets of dichotomous stereotypes of femininity and masculinity. A discourse of sex and sexuality was linked to a 'normal biograph' of a young woman, including preparing her for her roles in heterosexual 2 5 Youth is an interesting and ambivalent concept of modernity which has a history that must be studied along the dichotomous lines of sex and gender (Adams, 1997; Mitterauer, 1986; Hudson, 1984). 39 marriage. Being on the cusp o f womanhood' marks the beginning of the 'conduct and drive' control that, as described more generally by Elias as a part of the larger process of 'civilization', distinguishes the child from the adult. A crucial task of youth is to learn this self-control through discipline (Mitterauer, ibid.:51). The emphasis on the importance of knowing girls' first menstruation also suggests applying this self-control to reproductive and sexual practices. This takes us back to the notion of feminine protection, although now in conjunction with (hetero-) sexual practices. Part of this self-control is to know how to subject one's body to 'appropriate' performances of'womanhood'. This leads us to the other pole of Foucault's concept of biopower 2 6 : "an anatomo-politics of the human body" where power functions as discipline and punishment. The distinction between the physical and the communicative body may now help us to understand this other pole of'power over life'. O 'Nei l l (1985:132) writes: [by] stressing that the body is good to think and to have, we have laid the ground for Foucault's seemingly complex arguments that power does not tunction as possession, or as force exerted over bodies. The operation of political and economic power does not aim simply to control passive bodies or to restrain the body politic, but to produce docile bodies. Discipline is a type of power which aims at producing docile bodies and thus, at releasing bodies into "voluntary servitude" though socioeconomic and sociopolitical processes (O'Nei l l , 1985:133). A n anatomo-politics of the human body can perhaps best be illustrated by an excerpt from Foucault (1980b), where he explains the mechanisms of panopticism. Foucault introduced the term 'biopower' to designate a politics concerned with subjects as members of a population, in which issues of individual sexual and reproductive conduct interconnect with issues of national policy and power (Colin, 1991:4-5). Foucault (1978:143) writes: "If one can apply the term biohistory to the pressures through which the movements of life and processes of history interfere with one another, one would have to speak of bio-power to designate what brought life and its mechanisms into the realm of explicit calculations and made knowledge-power an agent of transformation of human life." 4 0 Foucault (1980b) describes how the medical gaze was institutionalized and how it was effectively inscribed in the social space in Western Europe. In his study on hospital architecture in the second half of the eighteenth century, he found that the hospitals were dogged by the problem of "surveillance which would be both global and individualizing while at the same time carefully separating the individuals under observation" (Foucault, ibid.: 146). A t first, he attributed this problem as specific to eighteenth century medicine and its beliefs. However, when he studied the problems of the penal system in the first half of the nineteenth century, he discovered that they were also concerned with the same theme. In most of the texts about prisons, he found a mention of Bentham's device: the Panopticon. The Panopticon was an architectural device ensuring a system of surveillance, of "isolating visibility" (Foucault, ibid.:155). A s O'Nei l l (1985:133) suggests, this surveillance "releases people into voluntary servitude". There is no need for arms, physical violence, material constraints. Just a gaze. An inspecting gaze, a gaze which each individual under its weight will end by interiorising to the point that he is his own observer, each individual thus exercising this surveillance over, and against, himself (Foucault, 1980b: 155). Here we can recall Elias' treatise on the bodily practices of emitting wind or using the fork. The normalizing gaze (self-) regulates what Elias called "the standards of conduct and drive control". Foucault (1984:183) also sees the gaze over bodily techniques as a "detailed political investment of the body" of the different disciplinary institutions "constantly reaching out to ever-broader circles." Developed in the modern era, the gaze over bodily techniques is one strategy of employing power over individuals. This strategy can now be applied digitally through a satellite eye in the sky. This gaze allows us to see the dimension of abstracted power that Tampax employs through their TRoom. This makes also for a good regulatory device as part of a global market 41 strategy of a digital multiplication of the gaze from America. I w i l l discuss the gaze over and into girls' lives as a fantastic form of power that can be embodied as a technology of regulation and subordination. A counter-strategy to Tampax may be to return the gaze digitally as a means of self-control and self-expression. In presenting the TRoom as a teenage girl's room, Tampax uses this digital format to offer the possibility of self-construction and self-representation. A n d while Internet technologies facilitate such possibility, Tampax, as I describe in more detail in Chapter two, constructs only a hyperphysical gaze from the TRoom under the terms of a corporate contract. Their gaze inspects the reproductive and sexual functions of girls. The technology of sex is one of the many techniques and technologies which rewrite the human body and along with which an 'entire political technology of life' developed. In other words, a text has been superimposed onto the human body: first, on the microphysical level to discipline the physical and psychical body, and second, on the macrophysical level to "sexualize" and regulate the human and social body. This technology aimed at disciplining and regulating the social body and at rewriting us all in our individuality. In its organization of the human and social body, sex and sexuality emerged as regulatory controls of what may have once been a wi ld body. In defining the body in terms of its (sexual) materiality, Foucault develops a political economy of the body as the site of subjectivities, as an item of information, and as a target of power. A discourse of sexuality merges with a discourse of identity and thus, a new social order. This social order is also embedded in various everyday institutional orders regulating the body. When the bodily function of menstruation is associated with reproduction, sexuality can also be seen from the perspective of social structures 42 reinforcing certain kinds of conduct. In particular, when we think about a political economy of the body, we also need to understand the configurations of bodies in relationships to institutional formations such as the family. With a biopolitics of the population, the family is "considered as an element internal to population and as a fundamental instrument of its government" (Foucault, 1991:99). In The History of Sexuality, Foucault (1978) shows the reduction of the communicative body to the sexual body as a historical process by describing how in the period of the eighteenth century, the deployment of sexuality was grafted onto the deployment of alliance. The deployment of alliance refers to "a system of marriage, o f fixation and development of kinship ties, of transmission of names and possession" while the deployment of sexuality is "concerned with the sensations of the body, the quality of pleasures, and the nature of impressions, however tenuous or imperceptible these may be" (ibid.: 106). Thus, thinking through the sexed and sexual body also demands an inquiry into the family or kinship as one of the institutions regulating the body. In 1928, Mary Pauline Callender wrote the first booklet o f a trilogy, Marjorie May's Twelfth Birthday,21 in which Marjorie May learns from her mother "that Nature asserts itself in other ways, as you approach womanhood." In short, Marjorie M a y w i l l "find coming from [her] a slightly bloodstained fluid." Given that Kotex made free distribution of the brochure possible, 2 8 Mother's subsequent advice to her 'young lady' does not surprise: "When this happens, you are to take from your dresser one o f these 2 7 The Museum of Menstruation webpage at http:Wwww.mum.org offers online texts from the 1928 Australian edition, the 1935 Canadian edition, and the 1938 American edition. I take online excerpts from the 1935 Canadian edition. 2 8 In the introduction of the second booklet Marjoire Learns About Life, Callender (1936) acknowledges: "It is through the kindness of the Kotex officials (and their products deserve your loyalty) that this work can be distributed free of charge to both rich and poor alike." (http://www.mum.org/lifel.htm). 43 Kotex pads and wear it with this elastic girdle, known as a Kotex sanitary belt. Y o u must tell me the first day it happens [...]". The control over a girl dealing with menstruation is established in the family relations to her mother. This illustrates the function of the mother in her role as the primary mediator of inculcating sanitary technology upon her daughter. The family appears as the first institution to regulate a girl's flow of life through a discourse of feminine protection. This regulatory arrangement is also maintained through the digitally mediated discourse of feminine protection in the TRoom where girls are told to adhere to adultist authorities and in particular, to their mom who "wi l l be your best friend during this time of life" (http://www.troom.com/topdrawer/trtime.html). Through these family relations, a discourse of feminine protection is also inscribed onto the girl as a matter of maintaining feminine hygiene inside and outside. Mother reminds Marjorie M a y about maintaining her purity: "I taught you that it is just as important for you to be clean inside as it is to be clean outside. [....] Y o u must give as careful attention to this new function of your body as you do to the elimination of waste matter." This inside and outside metaphor of feminine protection is also played out through digital texts in the TRoom by reference to the changes inside and outside that pubescent boys and girls go through. There we learn that "inside both boys and girls, the reproductive organs [...] start to work" (http://www.TRoom.com/topdrawer/trtime.html). The inside is more cleanly linked to their reproductive system, while, as I argue in Chapter Two, parental voice is also replaced by corporate authority. The notions of cleanliness and purity are linked to reproduction and thus, to sexuality. 44 In the 1936 sequel, Marjorie May Learns About Life, Mary Pauline Callender' gives more "advanced instruction" as i f this discourse of menstruation in the first booklet would lead 'naturally' into a discourse of reproduction and heterosexuality in the second booklet. [....] The hush of Spring seemed to hold Marjorie May and her mother in a spell, or perhaps it was the charm of Mrs. Sherman and the adorable sweetness of her baby that caused them to sit so quietly and without conversation. "Mother," said Marjorie May, breaking the silence, "how did I really come to you and Daddy? [....] During school races today one of the girls was telling us about people having babies. She said an older girlfriend of hers had told her all about it, and well, mother, she is a girl none of us like, and - what she said has frightened me." "I know just how you feel, dear," said the mother [...] "I faced exactly the same situation when I was a girl." [....] "So, to start right with our own family, I begin with you - and me - and Daddy. [....] you were not inside me for years and years," replied the mother; "and the fact is you could not have begun to grow until some time after Dad and I were married." "Why not?" "Because mothers are never alone in bringing their child into being. [....] When animals have offspring, their only motive for doing so is this urge or desire. [....] Since the world became civilized, we would not think of giving or yielding ourselves to any physical urge or desire which might bring children, until the love for the person we want to live with has resulted in marriage." The family is presented as the structure that inscribes a 'civilized' desire of heteronormativity culminating in the adult achievement of marriage, with sexuality limited to its procreative function. This illustrates a notion of family structure that Foucault (1978:108) describes: The family cell, in the form in which it came to be valued in the course of the eighteenth century, made it possible for the main elements of the deployment of sexuality (feminine body, infantile precocity, the regulation of births, and to a lesser extent no doubt, the specification of the perverted) to develop along its two primary axes: the husband-wife axis and the parents-children axis. [....] Its role is to anchor sexuality and provide it with permanent support. [....] The family is the interchange of sexuality and alliance: it conveys the law and the juridical dimension in the deployment of sexuality and it conveys the economy of pleasure and the intensity of sensations in the regime of alliance. The third booklet of this trilogy Facts About Menstruation Every Woman Should Know was published in 1936 (http://www.mum.org). 45 The relationships between the subjected human beings of this particular kind of family, which is itself impacted by the forces of modern rationality 3 0, gives us a way to understand sexual identities derived from family or kinship relations. A s I later show, institutional structures of kinship have been, and are used by Tampax Incorporated to rewrite the wi ld and sensory nature of girls. In the following I w i l l describe the political economy of girls that can be understood as a normative inscription of a grammar of girlhood. Inscribing a Grammar of Girlhood Gayle Rubin's (1975) discussion of gender and sexuality in her article "The Traffic in Women" offers a point of entry beyond a construction of sexual bodies to include a political economy of gendered bodies which Foucault does not fully address. This is helpful for my discussion of girls being constructed through a discourse of feminine protection where a political economy of girls intersects with sexuality, as w i l l show in more detail in the next chapter. Rubin (1975:159) argues that there is a systemic social apparatus which is responsible for female oppression: she calls this system a "sex/gender system" which "is the set of arrangements by which a society transforms biological sexuality into products J U However, this family (or the mother with her advice) does not stand outside 'the art of government'. As Foucault (1991:101) reminds us, with specific regard to sex, the 'art of government' began to be based outside the family, and a biopolitics of the population bred a "new science called political economy". This can be illustrated by part of the introduction "To the Mothers of Young Girls in their Early Teens" in the booklet "Marjorie May Learns About Life", where Callender (http://www.mum.org/lifel.hrm) writes: "I cannot too strongly urge that you have your family doctor give your child regular health examinations [...] I consider these examinations as much a need as life insurance, for they actually provide future happiness insurance." What follows is an acknowledgement of Kotex as the distributor of this free booklet. 46 of human activity, and in which these transformed sexual needs are satisfied." 3 1 Rubin (1975:176) argues that the kinship system socially organizes sexuality and gender. She takes her understanding of kinship from Levi-Strauss (1966), who interprets kinship systems and marriage rules as embodying the rule of an exchange of women between men. This kinship system works in the service of compulsory heterosexuality whereby male and female unification becomes apparent as a model of heterosexual and patriarchal penetration. Kinship, so she suggests, is the culturalization of biological sexuality on the societal level (Rubin, 1975:189). Here I want to recall Foucault (1978:106ff.) who argues that the apparatus of sexuality is superimposed on the system of alliance. This makes it possible to understand that when talking about a system of institutionalized social relations such as the family' , we are dealing with at least two 'systems' superimposed on one another and which together function as an institutionalized form of power over individuals and kinship relations. In the context of reproductive activity and thus, of sexuality, I w i l l explore the discursive systems through which Tampax regulates girls' sexual experiences in the digital environment of the Troom. With their focus on the reproductive, and thus sexual body, Tampax represents a script of sexuality mediated by girls' bodies that shapes and reshapes how girls relate to one another and to boys. When we think of the Tampax tampon as a tool of feminine protection that needs to penetrate girls in order to protect, we need to ask how Tampax frames this experience of penetration in its association with 3 1 In "Thinking Sex" Rubin (1984: 308) states that sexuality needs to be added to these structures of social relations, whereby "[in] contrast to my perspective in "The Traffic in Women', I am now arguing that it is essential to separate gender and sexuality analytically to more accurately reflect their separate social existence." 47 sexual penetration. In Chapter two I explore how Tampax frames and plays with the superimposition of a system of sexuality to think girls' bodies within a political economy. The second 'system' Rubin (1975:189) identifies, can be understood in terms of "psychoanalysis [which] describes the transformation of the biological sexuality of individuals as they are enculturated." This enculturation inscribed by psychoanalysis maps cultural stereotypes, such as the acquisition of standards of womanhood, onto the female genitals (ibid.:195). A s Rubin (in: Weed and Schor, 1997:85) suggests, "the grammar of eroticism" is acquired very early in life, and psychoanalysis has very strong models for the active acquisition and personalized transformations of meanings by the very young. Rubin (1975:196) takes a Freudian approach to show both the construction of femininity in becoming "a little woman - feminine, passive, heterosexual," and resistance to this construction through repression of the sexuality or the assumption of a "masculine" or homosexual identity. I turn to the booklet "Facts About Menstruation that every Woman should know" 3 2 , published by Kotex in 1936, to give an illustration of this psycho-inscription onto the female body: In order to understand exactly why menstruation takes place, you must realize the arrangement of the female sex organs. [....] You, yourself, know of certain changes, both mental and physical, that affect a woman before and during the menstrual period. Frequently there is nervousness, irritability, tenseness just before menstruation. That is because the body is preparing to develop a new individual. Cultural stereotypes of the nervous woman were grounded in female sex and sexuality with menstruation and reproductive cycles as controlling mechanisms over a women's psyche. Scientific knowledge was offered to describe 'women' who, in a universal way, were suffering from certain kinds of physical and mental weaknesses once a month. 48 Similar to a discourse of hysteria a hundred years ago, studies of women's fragility before and during menstruation could be used as a means of barring women from public or working life when convenient (Houppert, 1999:154-8). A history of the psychology of menstruation was inscribed onto the female body and, in the worst case, declared her unfit for paid work. 3 3 After World War II, circa 1950, Dr. Katharina Dalton came up with a name: premenstrual syndrome (PMS) which the American Psychiatric Association formally included in 1993 in the Fourth Edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (ibid.: 158; 179). In the TRoom, the psycho-inscription onto the female body is more cleanly linked to female genitals and reproductive organs. In this digital environment, we can observe the "grammar of eroticism" as girls are represented going through a transformation of their biological sexuality by learning to incorporate Tampax tampons. The cultural stereotypes mapped onto the female genitals are inscribed through a mechanical act inserting Tampax tampons. For example, in the TRoom we watch a quick-time video in which a textually-mediated mechanized body, reduced to her genital and reproductive zone, performs the act of vaginal penetration with neither pleasure nor resistance at any time. This grammar of girlhood, constructed by a digital text of feminine protection, suggests that a girl's sexual activities are a systemic function rather than a pleasure, so that the girl is reduced to her genitals and penetration can be performed incessantly by a click of the mouse. 3 2 This is the third booklet of the Marjorie May series by Callender, retrieved from the World Wide Web at http://www.mum.org/factsl .htm 3 3 Although in the early 1940s in the United States, women learned about various hygiene tips for using tampons and pads when they needed to "do the man-sized job you've enlisted for", Houppert (1999: 158) criticizes that "after the end of World War II they were sent home with a new rash of studies "proving" that children needed their moms at home, the workplace was potentially hazardous to women's unborn children, and that women's cycles made them less-competent workers than men." 49 When we understand these psychic structures in relation to social structures, as Judith Butler points out in an interview with Gayle Rubin (in: Weed and Schor, 1997:75), we are provided with a way to access gender and sexuality socially rather to presume upon a fixed identity. Thus, in order to disrupt a patriarchal order along of phallocentric psychoanalytic discourse and the 'traffic in women', Rubin (1975:199) suggests that "feminism must call for a revolution in kinship," that is, in a heteronormative relation between females and males. Rubin (ibid.) writes: One of the most conspicuous features of kinship is that it has been systematically stripped of its functions - political, economic, educational, and organizational. It has been reduced to its barest bones - sex and gender. Thinking along binary lines reinforces a reduction of our selves, although, at the same time, it helps us explain how women have become women, and how men have become 34 men. With a disruption of kinship in the Levi-Straussian sense and of a "social organization of sex [that] rests upon gender [...] and the constraint of female sexuality" (Rubin, 1975:179), one can get beyond aspects of a binary, fixed gender identity construction. B y putting gender and sexuality into a social framework, Rubin makes possible a closer scrutiny of institutional structures that reconstruct binary notions of gender and sexuality; to disrupt these patriarchal and phallocentric arrangements means to disrupt a power over bodies. A t its base lies a reinvention of kinship and a resignification of the symbolic spaces of femininity and masculinity. Thus, I w i l l attempt 3 4 Rubin (in: Weed and Schor, 1997:84) acknowledges that "despite its limitations and its problems psychoanalysis has a certain power and utility for thinking about issues of gender identity and gender difference." 3 5 In an interview with Judith Butler, Rubin (in: Weed and Schoor, 1997:93) emphasizes that she used the L6vi-Straussian notion of kinship that defines "a way of generating a social and political structure from manipulation of marriage and descent". Queer kinship, she suggests, is using a very different model of 5 0 to rewrite this grammar of girlhood represented in the TRoom by reading outside Tampax's primary interpretive frame of constructions of girls through technologies of feminine protection. To think beyond these binary notions of sexuality and gender we also need to get beyond the rigid symbolic positions of the masculine and the feminine, or beyond anthropomorphizing the world along the lines of binary gender. Thinking new possibilities of gender as well as sexuality does not simply mean disrupting oppressive structures, but also to engage in understanding gender and sexuality as forming the basis of distinct areas of social practice. In "Thinking Sex", Rubin (1984) describes how thinking sexuality as different social practices facilitates moving beyond binary, reductionist and stereotypical presumptions of sexuality and of a natural congruence of sex and gender. Part of breaking open these binary symbolic spaces of sexuality and gender involves disrupting "the sex hierarchy" that delimits "good" sex as heterosexual, married, monogamous, reproductive, and at home (Rubin, 1984:282). Thus, thinking "good" sex also as queer, polyamorous, for pleasure, and on the beach helps us to break with or even rewrite confining sex and gender orders. A s I w i l l show in my reading of a Tampax advertisement published in a teenage magazine in the next chapter, textual abstractions and fragmentations can bring about a new order when reconstructed or rewritten in an alternative grammar of girlhood. kinship what anthropologists would call "fictive" or "informal" kinship which makes a contrast to a model of obligatory (heterosexual) relations. 51 Weaving girl texts Our age as a whole is characterized by attempts of institutional and corporate management over bodies. When exploring the hypertextual constructions of girls on-line, we need to see the subject formations of girls woven into techno-social networks through larger historical processes in the body politic. This history involves individuals being turned into objects by a multiplicity of discourses and emerging as subjects of institutional and corporate power. From the etiquette involving flatulence, fork use, and sexual pleasures, individuals have been gradually disciplined and subjected to being instruments of socioeconomic and sociopolitical processes. Also in this historical process, girls have been subjected to incorporate an etiquette of feminine protection and thus, have become bodies of Tampax's corporate body politic. Bodi ly unities are opened up to various discourses, fragmented by constructing detailed knowledge of the body, made docile through individualizing and totalizing strategies, and broken up into innumerable categories of classes, ages, sexes, races, consumer groups, and the like. Individualizing and totalizing strategies are employed to rewrite the body and thereby the social relations and sense of self. Technologies that rewrite in this way are thus power tools. The power over these tools and technologies entails exercising power over our selves. The 'civilizing' process has increased a technomorphism which appears to be of great use to "the modern corporate economy and its therapeutic state" which make good use of its technologies (O'Neil l , 1985:68). Technomorphous characters are superimposed on the wi ld body of human culture. Bodies help us to think. Experiencing corpo-reality, that is, seeing that body matters, brings about the urgency to reformulate a kind of unity of the human being to 52 counteract the present day governance of life through the body's fragmentation. To illustrate the weaving of human-social bodies and texts and to think a reconfiguration of these texts, I am inspired by O'Neill 's (1985: 80) model of a tri-level body politic. A tri-level body politic suggests thinking our bodies on three different levels which are all interrelated and interwoven with one another: a libidinal body, a gendered body, and a productive body. These theoretical abstractions of the body on the levels of desire, kinship and economy can illustrate identifiable, yet complex and interrelated components in a web of techno-social relations, processes and negotiations and offer a possibility to think our bodies in relation to various technologies (O'Neil l , 1985:80-1). Thinking girl bodies in relation to Tampax's technologies beings to the fore how Tampax thinks about girls and their incorporation of Tampax technologies on these levels. This thinking informs the corporately desired morphogenic construction of girl subjectivities through various technologies. How Tampax thinks about girls is digitally represented through the Troom, a corporate girl net. The question then becomes how we can also rethink girls outside and against this digital frame. These three levels, O 'Nei l l suggests, permit us to identify contradictions and constraints and regressions in the body politic. Thus, rethinking girls' appearances, representations, or corporealities can be measured against a background of the tri-level body politic in order to think beyond, for example, a reduction of girls to, for example, reproductive or sexual bodies. Girls weave themselves and are woven into a complex network of corporate power relations. Their bodies are remapped through digital technologies, whereby the shaping of girls and their everyday life experience becomes increasingly technomorphic. Formations of subjectivity through Internet texts may represent a historical shift from 53 anthropomorphism to technomorphism. Given the possibilities for transformation or metamorphosis of selves and social relations in this shift, I ask: what kind of girl bodies are being constructed through the TRoom? The historical shift from anthropomorphism to technomorphism can be understood as a rewriting process o f human bodies by technologies of normalization. 3 6 However, this shift reaches yet another dimension of subjectification through newer technologies: a hypertextual construction of bodies through a digital technology of communication. This digital technology facilitates a transformation of the conception of a girl insofar as her textually mediated body appears as a digital text or image which now can be transformed 'at w i l l ' through computer technology. Digital technologies of representation bring to the fore the suspicion that one is not really sure where people's edges and boundaries are. The notion of one single and true identity cannot be maintained anymore. A technomorphous shape of identity no longer permits the assumption of a single and static identity. A s Stone (1995:81) argues, "many of the pre-net assumptions about the nature of identity had quietly vanished" and many understood a "virtual persona as mask for an underlying identity." The conception o f creating fantastic realities through digital technology renders bodies, and with them conceptions of our subjectivities, more complex. Stone (ibid.:81) offers us a good J t> I take the term 'technologies of normalization' from Bryson and de Castell (1998) who suggest that the next dimension of subjectification occurs through a technology of'morphing' whereby morphing emerges as a postmodern conception of technology in relation to a heteroglossia of conceptions of gender. Morphing alludes to a world of play and of forms seen in dreams. Morphing is a processing technique used for the metamorphosis from one image, surface, or volume to another. Objects are graphically transformed by warping and then morphing them, whereby warping deforms or distorts the view of a single object and morphing interpolates the two (Gomes et al., 1998). For example, an image of a 'woman' is deformed and an image of a 'man' is warped, then the two are blended to represent a new object created playfully as a combination of the two: a 'womanman'. See http://www.es. wise.edu/~seitz/mterp/vmorph.html for an example of morphing Mona Lisa or http://www.ncl.ac.uk/~n03 lm/andy for an example of "morphing out of identity politics" where an image of a brother was transformed into an image of a sister. 54 analogy of these playful possibilities through Internet technologies in closing her chapter on "In Novel Conditions: The Cross-Dressing Psychiatrist" 3 7: [...] Few had yet thought very deeply about what underlay the underlying identity. There is an old joke about a woman in a lecture on cosmology who said that she understood quite clearly what kept the earth hanging in space; it actually rested on the back of a giant turtle. When asked what the turtle was standing on, she replied that the turtle was standing on the back on yet another turtle, and added tartly, "You can't confuse me, young man; it's turtles all the way down". A s I w i l l show, in the TRoom we are confronted with a Tina, a textual identity, that is a construction of a 'girl ' by digital text. She is a figure made possible by both the Tampax feminine protection industry and Internet technologies. Tina is a corporate text constructed by a team as a "believable" or "thinkable" girl script. Digital technology makes it possible to think this corporate girl. Multiplici ty also emphasizes the blurring of boundaries and challenges thinking girls in a unitary perspective of the TRoom web. Rethinking and rewriting girl texts becomes a way of negotiating a new formulation of social relations and selves through digital technology. Stated differently, girls and the rest of the world as a network can be rewoven. With the reformulation of a new unity we are back to the powers which aim at rewriting the body. Understanding that we are part of a powerful and complex web is crucial to discussing the potential and possibility for rethinking and reconfiguring girls on-line. "The urgency to reformulate the unity of the human being - without moralism or nostalgia" (Braidotti, 1994: 55-6), requires us to address and even to break down some o f the structures which have formulated the unity in the first place. The notion of text as 'the thing woven' can illustrate the forces weaving the matrix of life. The notion of text in historical and social reality renders us all actors of text, that 3 7 Stone (1995) gives an interesting account of how Sanford Lewin constructed the persona of virtual Julie in chat environments. However, the deceptive construction of Julie needed to follow a certain 'believable' 55 is, o f a social and technological network. I think it is crucial to understand and think of girl bodies through these networks. This allows us to analyze the embodied positions of girls within a web spun by fantasy, imagination, and modern rationality. What are the textual faces and interfaces represented through the digital texts of feminine protection that shape and reshape girls' social relations and selves? I approach this question by asking: what figures39 emerge from the TRoom through which girls may think themselves and social relations in late, highly technologized modernity? Thus, I borrow from Braidotti's (1994) and O'Neill 's (1985) method to suggest that a theoretical option of thinking selves, which also reflects material conditions, translates into reconfiguring girls in relation to a modern history of societies and of technologies. A s my contribution to the discussion of remapping or rethinking girl bodies through Internet technologies, I analyze the TRoom, Tampax's corporate website for teens and preteens, as an example of texts which organize and reshape girls in their everyday lives. gender script which questions our ability to develop flexible conceptions of subjectivities. 8 The etymology of'matrix' points us to an exploration of what a feminist weaving of networks of power over and against an androcentric history could look like. Plant (1995) and Haraway (1991) provide ways of thinking such practice whereby Plant creates the metaphor of the digital web as a feminist body rising up against a unitary perspective of a homogenous, Western, androcentric world and Haraway suggests that weaving new networks of information is for oppositional cyborgs against a patriarchal and capitalist world. 3 9 Haraway (1997:11) points out that Foucault gives shape to his theoretical concept of biopower through delineating the nineteenth-century figures of the masturbating child, the reproducing Malthusian couple, the hysterical woman, and the homosexual pervert. Thus, thinking our selves in historical figures involves thinking the constructions of our social relations and identities. 56 C H A P T E R T W O : Text-work and Teen-talk in the TRoom: Textual constructions through the virtual matrix - period. In the previous chapter, I outlined and developed a way of thinking a body politic that facilitates a historical understanding of our social relations and selves woven into a complex network of texts (language/ images, techniques, technologies, and networks). We produce knowledge of our selves and 'the rest of the world' through these texts. The production of knowledge, as Foucault (1978,1991) described, is inextricably enmeshed in relations of power which operate to constitute bodies. We can understand these discursive formations through a tri-level body politic, as O'Nei l l (1985) suggests, to analyze the liberating or confining powers over bodies through texts. The following analysis of a discourse of menstruation through the Internet is an example of how to explore systems of representation and embodiments of texts through new communication technologies. A s Smith (1990, 1999) shows, ruling relations are written into texts, including Tampax on-line, and thus, a study of texts can reveal some o f these powers at work. The textual analysis of the TRoom is an investigation into thinking our bodies through technologies, in this case, sanitary technological developments and the experience of being a woman these texts mediate. In short, I furnish an example of thinking gendered bodies through an Internet text. M y discourse analysis of excerpts from the TRoom website w i l l explicate themes and figures used by forces of information technology and market institutions to give shape to womanhood. TRoom's textual imagery provides the basis for thinking configurations of femininity through texts and 57 hypertexts of feminine protection. I apply a combination of Elias' analysis of social etiquette as an inscription of 'civilization' and Foucault's description of subjectification though discourse to explore constructions of figures of femininity in the TRoom. M y readings of the TRoom describe bodily inscription through everyday mundane practices in the larger context of texts of'civilization' and through subj edification to a discourse of feminine protection. A s I described in the previous chapter with my focus on corporeality, bodily techniques and technologies are central to re-inscribing discourses and practices through which subjectivities are constituted. The main purpose of my reflections is to explore how texts of knowledge or information 4 0 reconfigure the gendered body. I demonstrated how Elias' and Foucault's methods are useful in unpacking Tampax's conceptualization of women and in "this new day of womanhood," iri 1936. In this chapter I discuss the TRoom website, more than sixty years later, as an interface of being a girl or becoming a (modern) woman. Menstruation as a bodily function associated with reproduction and sexuality emerges as an interface in the body politic, or in Buckley and Gottlieb's (1988:4) definition, as "the interface between biological and cultural systems in the making o f human society." Thus, engaging in textual dialogue with this interface is a significant activity in thinking the possibilities for the developments in the body politic and the shaping our selves and 'the rest of the world'. The Tampax website is an interface, that is, a surface where a market force of feminine protection merges with texts for girls/women by providing us with a digital 4 0 It seems to me that in our information age, both knowledge and information can be recognized as negotiated and contested imprints onto the human body, increasingly, knowledge and information are used interchangeably, especially when embodied knowledge is understood as consisting of innumerable bits of disembodied information. 58 point of entry into constructions of epistemological and ontological categories of girls/ women. A hyperlink from the Tampax website, the TRoom facilitates an easily accessible, 4 1 hypertextual place for observation and exploration of teenage girls' bodily processes. Corporate hyperlinks The TRoom is part of the "Tampax community for girls/ women" at http://www.tampax.com, a site that emphasizes that "women know," and provides the TRoom with its larger discursive context. http://www.tampax.com is the Internet address or the Uniform Resource Locator ( U R L ) given in mass market advertisements for Tampax tampons, for example, in teenage magazines such as YM (which stands for Young and Modern) and Seventeen. 4 1 Disturbingly, webuse is still stratified by gender, class, and race. What I mean by "easy accessibility" here, is a seemingly "deeper" insight into a representation of girls' lives that readers can gain. I will discuss this in more detail later on. 5 9 These advertisements weave the Tampax website to texts in other mass media, as I shall show below. For my textual analysis, it provides me with the virtual frame for the TRoom. The Tampax homepage not only offers us a textually mediated space to access girls' knowledge, but also the potential to position such knowledge within a larger context of constructing women's knowledge. The Tampax homepage serves as a larger map for textually situating girls. A t the bottom of the image that represents "Women know," there is an image of a young woman that takes us to the hyperlink TLounge and of a girl that links that hypertextually to the TRoom. This knowledge is overseen by Body matters, a hyperlink to corporate advice to female bodies, and by TAMPAX corporate communications. The hyperlink Tampax corporate communications informs us about the corporate institution that "sponsors" 4 2 girls' and women's knowledge as represented in the TRoom. In other words, girls and women are overseen, framed by, and made subjects of corporate body politic. The construction of the Tampax website with its hyperlink to the TRoom is engineered by Tampax corporate communications, or formulated more generally, by a corporate body of information and communication. When Internet users click on the icon Tampax corporate communications on the tampax.com homepage, they get a choice of further hyperlinks including "Small Wonder" (a Tampax corporate history), "Anwers to Tough Questions" (on tampon safety), or "Tampax links" (to further hyperlinks for other informational purposes). Choosing the path "Tampax links" from the offered set of hyperlinks, readers get to a further network of hypertexts. A t the top of this list o f links is Procter & Gamble (P&G) followed by the "TRoom". P & G situates itself again as the 60 overseer over the TRoom. Entering the framework of Tampax corporate communications connects us directly to P & G which in turn is a hypertextual link to P & G ' s extensive line of products sold in various parts of the world. These hypertexts illustrate how Tampax's corporate economy links consumers to a global economy. When we follow these links, we can establish the corporate connections to and from the TRoom. Yet, at the same time, in following these links from one web to another, as Landow (1994:15) suggests, the reader immediately blurs their edges. The hypertextual connections between the TRoom, Tampax corporate economy, and the global economy blur the boundaries of where a document or a site of information begins and ends. With respect to the TRoom, these hyperlinks make it difficult to differentiate the TRoom's delimitation from P & G and the global economy. Procter & Gamble's founders Wi l l i am Procter and James Gamble began their enterprise in 1837 by converting hog fat from Cincinnati's huge meat-packing industry into tallow for soap and candles. Since then, P & G has gone on to develop or acquire more than 300 products, which sell in about 150 countries today. With $35 bi l l ion (US) in revenue in 1997, P & G is the eighteenth-largest corporation in the United States (Houppert, 1999:44). Through the hypertextual links to this huge multinational corporation, P & G (http:Wwww.pg.com) takes readers into the network of the global corporate economy that spins its material threads over continents. Houppert (1999:44) writes: The company boasts that it sells $ 60 [US] worth of P&G products for every man, woman, and child in the United States [in 1997]. And when it comes to international sales, P&G sold enough products in 1997 to reap the equivalent of $ 6.30 from each person on the planet. 4 2 From the TRoom website, we learn that the "TRoom [is] sponsored by Tampax Satin". 61 P & G ' s website at http://www.pg.com showcases their place in the global corporate economy revealing that in various places on every continent, consumers find "Beauty Care Products" such as Ivory soap, Clearasil and Cover G i r l , "Laundry/ Cleaning Products" such as Tide and M r . Clean, "Food/Beverages" such as Pringles and Crisco, "Health Care Products" such as Vicks and Crest, and finally, "Paper Products" such as Pampers, Always, and Tampax. Tampax is a recent acquisition to P & G ' s line of products. In 1997, P & G swallowed Tambrands (producer of Tampax and world leader in tampon sales, accounting for about 45 percent of all tampons sold in the world) to take aim at a potentially lucrative global market. 4 3 Wi th the news of the acquisition, both Tambrands and P & G stock market shares went up 4 4 and hundreds of workers were laid off (Houppert, 1999:43). With the extension of its tampon market, P & G not only extended its worldwide marketing and distribution networks, but also continued - and here I borrow O'Neill 's (1985:133) words - to reach into and expand the productive body. 4 5 A greater recruitment of girls and women into using Tampax tampons means an expansion of Tampax commerce. Thus, the bodies in countries where Tampax tampons are sold, who 'voluntarily' buy and use Tampax tampons regularly, play a crucial role in reproducing this corporate and global strategy. Foucault's (1991:101) notion of "political economy" is , J In 1996, Tambrands had a 44 percent share of the international market - with $ 662 US million in global sales for 1996 - and almost 50 percent of the U.S. market. The acquisition of Tambrands, with most of its business in North America and Europe, will allow P&G to apply its worldwide marketing and distribution networks as it enters the tampon market with an established brand (http://augustachronicle.com). 4 4 Data retrieved from the world wide web at http://www.augustachronicle.com/stories/041097/biz_tambrands.html on July 7, 1999 4 5 This global corporate economy has superimposed a productive body politic that reshapes the organization of labour. Menzies (1996:133) writes: "The official discourse on technological restructuring [...] won't help us because it is centred not on the needs and priorities of people, but on the priorities of the global corporate economy. It is framed around that economy's need to globalize and downsize, to create a global labour pool with minimal social safety nets, and to do whatever else is required to operate efficiently and expand its marketing space". At the same time, the productive body is called into a relationship of consumption, in this case, to buy Tampax tampons. O'Neill (1985:80) rightly points out that the underlying 62 useful here as it emphasizes the materiality of women's bodies and directs us to analyze the political economy of femininity within the discourse of feminine protection, specifically as a site of incorporating sanitary technology. Tampax makes use of the information highway as a format of communication available to anyone with access to the Internet. Digitally mediated teaching guides and instructional answers to parents' questions are provided by Tampax and can be individually accessed. Houppert (1999:72) points out that "while in the 1950's [the] mother was seen as the primary source of [Tampax] iriformation, with the school nurse filling in the gaps, today the industry posits itself as the primary source, with parents playing a supportive role." In other words, Tampax substitutes its authoritative self for parents in overseeing the protection o f girls. Writing itself into this social fabric, the Tampax corporate economy writes itself into growing networks of communication and information technology by linking the individual to its texts on feminine protection. The main target population in the globally expanding marketing of Tampax tampons remains young women. Elias' work helps us to recall that behind this is the attempt to inscribe bodily habits as early as possible through bodily techniques: here, such techniques include using Tampax tampons to control menstrual emissions. Stated in corporate terms: One fundamental truth drives our business from Chicago to Shanghai: the consumer we attract today will likely stay with us for all the years of her menstrual cycle [...] If we can persuade young women to use our product during their early teens, we can gain loyal consumers for thirty-five years or more (as Martin Emmett, chair and CEO of Tambrands, told shareholders in 1993, in: Houppert, 1999:41) discourses of the productive body are "self-control" and "exploitation"; these help us to assess regressive developments in the body politic, as I show in what follows. 63 Statements like these expose the corporate interest in the economy of gi r ls 4 6 . Yet, the economic power they employ is not exerted over girls in a forceful way; rather it operates by "attracting" girls to the texts of Tampax, and thus to P & G products, who then become wil l ing subjects by incorporating Tampax's feminine protection into their everyday and everynight life. Tina Incorporated A s described above, the TRoom is part of a virtual community of girls and women represented by an economic institution owned by Procter & Gamble. Created in February 1996 and maintained at a cost of US$ 300,000 a year (Houppert, 1999:200-1), the TRoom presents "Tina's room" 4 7 . Tina is the name of the girl who appears to inhabit this space. When I click on the blond, white girl with her pink sunglasses at the Tampax homepage http://www.tampax.com, I get to the TRoom door on which hangs a sign inviting me to "Come on in!" at http://www.TRoom.com/indexl.html. Two other signs pinned on the door notify me as to what is on this month and next month in the TRoom. Although at this point, new visitors to the TRoom cannot yet know that these are subject headings of excerpts from Tina's diary, these notes pinned on the door nevertheless conjure up expectations of continuing narratives, easily updated by way of digital communication. We are invited to enter into a continuous story. Already dominating the feminine sanitary protection industry with its sanitary pads Always, P&G was looking to increase Tampax sales in more countries, noting that Latin America and Asia account for less than five percent of the Tampax volume (http://augustachronicle.com). A global economy of girls may be a more appropriate term to indicate the economic ambition to push for voluntary submission of girls everywhere to their brand of feminine protection. 4 7 In the January 1997 excerpts of "My Diary" in the TRoom at http://www.troom.com/diary readers are told: "I'm Tina and this is my room". 64 With a click of the mouse anywhere on the door, I am in Tina's room. Those who hesitate to enter w i l l be cast hyperactively and automatically into the TRoom after about twenty seconds when the screen changes. N o choice is given as to whether or not I want to see what is behind this door. Either way, a window opens to provide a view into a completely furnished bedroom: the TRoom at http://www.TRoom.com/index2.html. A s we gather from this image, the title for this U R L of the TRoom file reads: "TRoom- Tampax tampons, menstruation, feminine hygiene, and feminine protection info." Yet, as Tina's room, it functions as a representation of a room with "girl-stuff. I 65 read this as an illustration of linking narratives of feminine protection to narratives of representations of girls and girls' spaces. Information on feminine protection invites us to take an intimate look into a girl's life via her bedroom in a virtual way. "Go ahead and click anywhere you want in the TRoom": this prompt encourages readers to open up these former spaces of privacy and secrecy. Readers can click on various objects in the TRoom to gain further access to the interior life of a virtual girl. For example, her diary lies open on the bed in the centre o f the room. The left page is blank, but the text on right page calls: "Read Me! , " thus recruiting readers into this intimate relationship with Tina by way of the textual abstractions in which her diary is embedded. Her invitation sets up a fictional space for us to enter, as i f this could happen in real life. Reading her diary connotes breaking a taboo, entering a previously forbidden space - a well-guarded personal daily record o f intimate thoughts and events. With the words: "Read me!" readers are called into this relationship, or as Smith (1999) suggests, into activating the dialogue with the text by responding to this call. B y further activating this dialogic relationship, readers of her diary enter a previously secret discursive space and are called into new textually mediated social spaces and relations. Althusser's (1971) notion of interpellation is a helpful way to understand the recruiting strategies and transformative power of language that summons individuals into spaces of discursive relations. In the theoretical scene provided by Althusser (1971:170-86), the policeman interpellates or hails an individual: "Hey you there"! In Althusser's example, the hailed individual turns around, "because he has recognized that the hail was 'really' addressed to him, and that it was really him who was hailed" (ibid.: 174). B y turning around he has 6 6 recognized that the voice is aimed at him and the hailed individual is brought into being as a subject in relation to a recognizable discourse (i.e., policing). Althusser (ibid.: 174) writes: I shall then suggest that ideology 'acts' or 'functions' in such way that it 'recruits' subjects among the individuals into subjects (it recruits them all), or 'transforms' the individuals into subjects (it transforms them all) by that very precise operation which I have called interpellation or hailing, and which can be imagined along the lines of the most commonplace everyday police (or other) hailing: 'Hey, you there!' The main idea that I take from Althusser's scene is the notion of interpellation as an act of recruitment or calling into a discursive context through which a certain identity is acquired. This does not only point to the constitutive power of language but also more generally to the relational aspect between individuals and symbolic systems of representation. In the case of Tampax's TRoom, digital technologies of interaction facilitate the recruitment of any individual visitor into an intimate relationship with Tina. A n interface mediates the voice of the figure who calls individuals into texts of feminine protection: "Come on in!", "Read me!". In Althusser's example, the hailed individual is brought into being as a subject (as both free and 'subjected') by a voice representing an authority of the state and thus, recruited into submitting himself "freely to the commandments of the Subject" (ibid.: 182). In my example, the computer functions as a prosthesis (Haraway, 1991:213) that likewise works to extend the socioeconomic processes that release female bodies into voluntary docility. In the example of the TRoom, I see the act of calling or hailing as functioning to recruit girls into the circle of the TRoom by Tina's "voice." The notion of interpellation helps me to describe the technologies of recruitment into digital texts "on the Net". "Opening" the diary by clicking on "Read me" as i f I followed an instruction manual common to computer software applications, I read at http://TRoom.com/diary/diary.html: 67 My Diary A Day in the Life of Tina Hey guys! I am Tina and the TRoom is my place to hang and chill with friends on the Net and talk about music, guys, fun, problems, travel - basically anything we want to share with each other. This section has excerpts from my personal diary every month. So if you are new to the site or even if you are a regular, read My Diary and you will always know what is going on with me and what is new here in the TRoom. With "Come on in!" and "Read me!" - "And you w i l l always know what is going on with me and what is new here in the TRoom," readers (addressed here as "guys") are called curiously, into a physically distant intimacy with Tina and the TRoom. Interpellating individuals into continuously changing texts like this provides us with a clear example of discourse as an open-ended, yet regulative practice that places individuals as subjects into authoritative texts. Foucault (1978) reminds us to think about discourses and bodies as central to the locus of power. One the one hand, subjects constructed by interpellation become wil l ing servants or docile bodies of the represented script. On the other hand, what may disturb the smooth insertion of individuals into texts of feminine protection is an uncertainty about where "the body" is. In other words, while Tina and the TRoom represent scripts of girlhood and aim at rewriting 4 8 bodies through the Internet, we cannot be sure about the outcome of this symbolic exchange. A t once, the interpellative power puts individuals in place as free and subjugated subjects regardless of whether and how individuals take on these subject positions. Who is Tina, the interpellating voice that identifies us in relation to her? A s the introduction to her diary promises us, we can log on anytime and gain insight into her life 4 8 Althusser (1971:176) suggests that the constitutive power of language hails "individuals [who] are always-already subjects". I understand formations of subjectivities through interpellation as being part of the discursive power of inscribing texts on already existing subjects and thus, as being part of historical processes that rewrite bodies and through which bodies rewrite historical processes. 68 and the TRoom where she "hangs with her friends on the Net". However, although she shares stories of her diary with us, and thus gives us access to her personal life, Tina remains physically distant and inaccessible. Although Tina's identifiable physicality is suggested in the icon on the Tampax website, it also remains difficult to grasp. A n interface mediates between her body and associated subjectivities and the symbolic systems of representation she comes to stand for. A s Stone (1995:65-81) pointed out in her discussion of the on-line cross-dressing psychiatrist persona, Julie, with textual prosthetics on the Internet one can embody technosubjectivities at a physical distance and construct a virtual persona who can enter women's worlds and establish intimate relationships. This comparison to Julie invites me to reflect on two significant aspects in Tina's construction. First, Stone uses the case of Julie to illustrate that the interaction on the Internet challenges the old assumption of identity: one person inhabits one body. Technosubjectivities can be constructed at w i l l and at a physical distance. When I contacted tina@TRoom.com via email in October 1999 and asked for more information about who Tina is, where she comes from, and her relationship to Tampax, "Tina Berenbaum-T" <berenbaum.t@pg.com> responded: Hi Beatrix, First, I'd like to thank you for contacting www .tampax and also to apologize for taking so long to get back to you. We are pleased that you have chosen Tampax as a topic for your thesis. Unfortunately, we cannot respond to your questions with specific information. This is proprietary information and we cannot share our research with you. We try our best to develop materials that respond to the wide array of questions we receive. However, due to sheer volume we are not able to provide individual and detailed answers. The information that is available, is what we have on line. [....] Tina, CDN Email Team 69 From this Tampax email response , I understand that the discursive threads that write the script of Tina's personality are a corporate effort undertaken by a team ("we"). Many bodies, or perhaps even no-body is there with a girl identity; this makes for a hyperreal corporate construction of a girl whereby the boundaries between real and virtual, between body and technology seem to blur. A s the email above shows, Tina's identity ("I" in the first paragraph) is multiple ("we" in the second paragraph) and thus, it breaks away from the image of a fixed identity. The subjectivities she "incorporates" are shaped by Tampax/Procter & Gamble. The link between Tina's fictional identity and corporate identity signals the shift from the intimate I-identity to the corporate and proprietary we-identity. Tina Inc. is a corporate body on-line, incorporated both through the corporation and the technology that make her possible. The second aspect that Stone addresses, is that Julie emerged through conversations on-line whereby her virtual persona was gradually constructed following some kind of logic of a "believable" or "thinkable" script of being a woman. From the e-mail response above, we gather that Tina's interpellative "voice" dips into a pool of "developed material" and standardized scripts to give us a certain knowledge about girls and feminine protection. Apparently rigid and immobile, "she" adheres to a corporate set of texts while otherwise remaining physically, but also emotionally distant. Tina's diary and the image of her room are constructed to direct readers to follow a "thinkable" script of a teenage 'girl ' who comes to personify girls' knowledge of feminine protection. From her diary entry in July 1999 we learn: I'm really into this new guy! His name is Craig and he's going to call any minute. He wants me to meet him at the end of my street so we can "go for a walk". I know we'll end up kissing. 4 9 Note that "pg.com" is the server of this email message, illustrating Tina's link to P&G via Tampax. 70 I wanted to take some time to write in my diary though, because I feel I owe it to myself, or if not to myself, then maybe to Maria. You see, Maria told me she thinks I'm in too deep with this guy. (Not that she's met him!) She thinks I'm losing myself. My first instinct was to say, "No, I'm not." But after all Maria and I have been through together, I know she really cares about me so the least I could do is think about what she said. If you haven't realized it by now, I think best on paper. Monthly installments build on previous narratives and thereby gradually construct a personality or a "believable" portrait of a girl which can be accessed through the "diary chronicles." Tina's biography produces a "thinkable" script of sexed and gendered heteronormativity. While caring and loving are represented as naturally a girl thing in the example above, the normative expectation of desire and sexual relationships remains heterosexual. Alternative scripts, as I w i l l suggest later, are not written. For example, nowhere do we find Tina's desire to kiss her girlfriend, Maria. Making sense of her social relations and selves by thinking on paper, Tina stubbornly follows the textual mediation of conventional sex and gender arrangements. Through her diary she reveals to us a "normal" teenage girl with experiences ranging from her crushes on boys, a longtime friendship with Maria who provides consistency in her stories as well as in her "life", a network of other girls whom she hangs out with in the TRoom, stories that introduce her mother at home and her father at work, her musical tastes, or her baby-sitting job and her bad marks in math. These narratives often parallel what Hudson (1984:49) finds in her study on "feminine adolescence": [An] ideological construct of femininity: the emphasis on leisure and fun as opposed to work and study; the preoccupation with romance; the conspicuous consumption and prominence of gossip, the lack of comment on the hard work necessary for success [...]; the discouragement of enlarged social, geographical or occupational horizons. A s in the case of Julie, we are confronted with a Tina, a textual identity 5 0 , that is a construction of a 'girl ' by digital text. Her interpellative power "voiced" via digital 5 0 With textual identity I mean both the construction of identities through text and the illusionary detachment of the one body as a limiting identity. 71 networks is built on this textual representation of a "thinkable" ideological construct of femininity, but at the same time works at a distance by a high degree of symbolic abstraction from the physical body. While she can expand and invent her horizon in any direction through the Internet, she still adheres to a "representable" script that assumes a category of a "girl". The corporate figure who calls girls into the TRoom encourages the smooth insertion of girls into the symbolic spaces of TRoom-defined femininity. What comes to represent the image of the name as 'girl ' is the digital face of a girl on the tampax.com homepage. This face of the teenage girl at tampax.com is the only iconic identification of a girl we encounter when entering the TRoom. B y reading her image and recognizing her as a girl, leading us to the TRoom and its "girl-stuff, we engage in reading codes of femininity. Smith (1990:176) suggests: "Dress, hairstyling [...] themselves take on textual properties. They are to be 'read', 'interpreted', not merely seen. Their styles, colors, forms, etc. are codified." Thus, the codes of femininity are embedded in the image and texts of a girl as fragmented visual representation. In the example of the TRoom, the iconic text shows only the face of a white girl with white teeth. Her fictional identity digitally embodies the corporate scripts of a teenage girl and thus, she represents Tina Inc. She looks healthy with her smooth skin and hip with her pink sunglasses that cover up her gaze. With her smile she radiates openness and friendliness. Her blond hair is cut shoulder-length in a somewhat timeless way and looks soigne. These visual codings of femininity located in the wider field of gender relations provide a sense of a girl identity that comes to represent white femininity. 72 Clicking on that girl, we get to the TRoom, evidently a one-person bedroom. A s I move the cursor over the graphic images of the bedroom 5 1 , the message area names the hyperlinks with my movement and reads like a list o f contents and hypertexts of the T R o o m 5 2 . lookinggood - yourroom - sportsandfitness - cooltunes - yourroom - penpals - yourroom -gameline - diary - yourroom - tinanet - lol - calendar - yourroom - reflections - answergirl These hyperlinks on fashion, sports, music, travel, games, stories, reflection and self-reflection, and teenage questions are textually mediated aspects in the everyday life of girls overseen by Tampax corporate communications. Tampax's corporate organization aims at the digital framing of a considerable number of girls' everyday life spaces and interests through the TRoom. This fantasy room functions as an ideal of exciting teenage girl life and thus, is supposed to appeal to other (non-white, non-blonde, non-middle class, and so on) girls. These hyperlinks also indicate the web of an encompassing corporate investment in teen life. Mov ing around in the TRoom, a girl is meant to believe that this is "your room". In the digital mediation of the TRoom, Tina's room and 'your room' blur in order to invoke the fantasy that this could be room of every teenage girl . Tina calls girls into identifying with the TRoom as a regular personal space. "Come on in!" (into the TRoom) and "your room" not only suggests a confusion of boundaries between Tina's room and 5 1 Many items come to stand for a hyperlink, for example, the computer links me to the "TinaNet", the pink cordless phone to the "Gameline", the tennis racket to "Sports and Fitness", or the two boxes of Tampax in the topdrawer of the chest of drawers to "A Time for Answers". The spaces in between moving over these images indicate a link to "Your Room". In moving around, the text that appears in the message area suggests a blurring of the edges of TRoom, Tina's room and what I then come to read as my room. The continuous cross-referencing to "Your Room" suggests that readers share Tina's room and thus, share the interpretative context in which interpellation occurs. 5 2 In the following list of hyperlinks I only write the first word of the hyperlink request, thus, I leave out the name of computer http://www.troom.com/ and the end of the request. For example, I write 'diary' instead of what appears as full text in the message area: http://www.troom.com/diary/diary.html 73 any teenage girl's room, but also calls girls into fantasizing about having a room like this. Every teenage girl should incorporate these fantasies. N o w Teen-a comes to stand not only for Tampax corporation and its technologies of feminine protection, but also for a fictional identity for all teenage girls. We can learn about the suggestions of these fantasies from studying the symbols Tampax uses. "Your room", that is, a room of one's own, manifests a sense of spatial self-control and autonomy, and thus a kind of independence. The girl who lives there owns a lot of stuff, including a computer, an easel, books, medals and a trophy, a tennis racket, a baseball, a pink cordless phone, a pink stereo system, compacts discs, and a cat. The amount of material things and the codes imbedded in the sum of these things can be associated with a repertoire of skills and competencies that point to a particular class background. The excerpts of Tina's diary where she describes, for example, her plans to travel to her pen-pal in England, her admiring relationship to an upper class girl , and thoughts about buying different kinds of generous Christmas gifts for friends, parents and grandparents, support Tina's location in a decidedly middle class context. Further, she expresses herself in flawless English, which points to the recognition of linguistic 'correctness' that, as Bourdieu and Passeron (1990:114-39) described in their elaborations on the social values of language in university education, comes to stand for a code of privilege. This 'day in the life of Tina' does not at first glance seem to have much to do with feminine protection. However, a certain desirable image of teenage girl is being propagated and protected. Tina's racialized and classed persona can be understood as a textual representation of a figure who is part of the standard setting of the discourse for 74 'feminine protection'. Within the protectionist discourse, white, healthy, middle-class female bodies continue to be pedestalled as future mothers of'the race' in a way that non-white female bodies have not been (Valverde, 1991). In situating girls into textual relations of class and race, Tampax employs these digital texts as symbolic systems and thus organizers of social relations and selves. Discursive threads of race and class are woven into texts to integrate girls into powerful material and social grids. The following discussion on the Tinanet provides us with further images of being a girl in a high-tech world who is drawn into webbed connections and systems of knowledge through the Internet. The Teen-a Net Tampax suggests that the TRoom is "a webzine for teens," a room to hang out, to share whatever teens want to, and to speak with one another as teens. Although the TRoom is called "webzine for teens",5 3 it addresses predominantly girls on the net. With this, Tampax plays on the social and networking components that Internet technology facilitates and alludes to the possibility that the website could be a forum o f non-adult talk or even subversive teen discussion about girls' knowledges. Anyone online who is interested in finding this webzine can click open this discursive network for teens. That the TRoom is "a webzine for teens" we learn from the homepage at Tampax.com when we move the cursor over the image of a blond girl. A "webzine" connotes many narratives shared on-line written by teens themselves. Interestingly, "My Diary" was put on-line in 1997 and first looked like a log-book of different 'teen' voices, that Tina wrote down. By August 1997 this format was replaced by Tina's single voice describing happenings in her life and in 1999, these stories varied in lengths between 1000 to 2200 words. The corporate and adult control over the TRoom renders "a webzine for teens" a misleading phrase and thus suggests an appropriation of teens' knowledge by P & G. 75 This website reads: Tinanet, Your Stories L I V E on the Web. Cl icking on "This way for October Tinanet" or "And this way for (: More Tinanet : ) " 5 4 we get a choice between the current site or an archive of past sites consisting of "stories of funny, annoying or just plain embarassing moments." Each site comes with a call to "send in your own stories [...] and we'll choose some and put 'em up on the Net." This shatters the hopes for a teen-controlled space and renders the subject heading "webzine for teens" a selective appropriation of teen discourses by Tampax. The "live" component o f this website simulates the present day performance and experience of being a girl , engineered by a corporate institution. Tina, the corporate girl figure, establishes a protocol for these " L I V E " postings in her first narrative on Tinanet in 1996 (http://TRoom.coni/tinanet/tinarchivel.html): Hi! I'm Tina, and this is the section of the TRoom dedicated to those oh-so-fun "embarrassing moments" that happen to all of us when we least expect it. But, look on the bright side. If we can talk about those moments and share our experiences of dealing with them, maybe we can save another girl from going through the same thing. So, in the spirit of sisterhood I decided to kick off this section with a story that happened to me. So, here goes: Ok, so I was at this party that wasn't even that great, but I had just come from a swim meet and I had my period and I hadn't put in a tampon because I didn't bring one with me. It was weird. I was excited to have done well in the swim meet and I just didn't feel like dealing with trying to find a tampon because my period was almost over anyway and I thought it wouldn't be a big deal. Ok. So, how stupid did I feel when I leaked blood all over my favorite pair of jeans and had to leave this uncool party feeling like a dork with my shirt tucked around my waist because I forgot to think ahead and protect myself and my favorite pair of jeans against the "it's never what you expect it to be" period that always comes at the most inconvenient time ? The first part of Tina's posting reads like a mission statement. In this paragraph Tina introduces herself and, in her first sentence, draws us into a consciousness of looming danger that could happen to "all o f us at anytime" in our everyday life. A s readers activating the text, we participate in these 'embarrassing moments that happen to 5 4 1 read the use of "(:" and ":)" as following this technique to evoke the impression of "(-:" or ":-)" the Tinanet being framed by "smiling" or "fun". Online talk often includes so called emoticons or smileys 76 all o f us when we least expect it'. A s subjects, we are positioned in the text in such way that we are all constantly threatened by unforeseeable assaults in our everyday life. These embarrassing moments appear to be something outside of our selves, unpredictable and somewhat out of control. Those who share the knowledge of those moments of embarrassment become part of what Smith (1999:151) calls "a circle of shared subjectivity constituted in the text-reader dialogue." In the subsequent part of the text, the circle becomes narrower and targets all members of the girl-population who are 'going through the same thing'. While this provides girls with a text of identification, it excludes the voices of girls who do not feel embarrassed. 'In the spirit o f sisterhood' Tina calls us into this digital space to save or protect 'another girl ' from 'going through the same thing'. The phrase 'to save a girl ' is certainly historically loaded. It is part of a long and contested struggle over and against establishing regulatory frameworks for girls. The panic that is created over unprotected girls can be applied to any everyday life moment that provides us with the wide, open grounds for a technique or a technology to fix it. Protection for and by girls is the aim of the course of action and becomes the object of a discursive strategy represented as girl power. Without telling us in the first paragraph what such a "moment of embarrassment" entails, Tina provides us with instructions on how 'another girl ' could be saved or protected. In Foucault's (1978) terms, an incitement to discourse is suggested as a broad strategy to avert the dark feelings of these moments of embarrassment and maybe to gain control over the situation. Such narrative activities, or more precisely, confessional technologies on the Internet, are presented as i f they had saving or protective qualities. Tinanet can provide girls with a networking and collectivizing space to deal with 'going which are used to communicate nonverbal information. 7 7 through the same thing'. Here, I lean on Smith's (1999:133-56) method of analyzing a textual specimen. Smith's analysis is helpful as it draws attention to the mutually constitutive aspects in the text-reader dialogue. Smith (1999:151) points out that "the printed published text has this powerful organizing effect of making the same 'instructions' available, not just to me, but to any other reader who can activate it." These instructions aim at recruiting individuals into the circle of shared subjectivity of girls. Seemingly "live," as i f we were witnesses to an embarrassing incident right now, in real time, Tinanet provides us with texts identifying girls who are out of control of their bodies. Tina's second paragraph describes a failure to control a female bodily function and the script for feminine protection. In her account she defines one of "those embarrassing" moments as an experience of a leaking body that stains her favourite piece of clothing. The description of how she thinks of herself and how she could have averted this experience is twofold: feeling stupid while leaving the social scene and "think[ing] ahead and protecting] myself and my favorite pair of jeans against the 'it's never what you expect it to be' period." A girl's autonomy and sense of freedom is directly linked to the bodily habit of incorporating modern sanitary technology into her everyday life. To think the productive body in this representation of being a girl who buys Tampax tampons for a sense of freedom, brings forth the tension of freedom and exploitation in these texts of feminine protection. The girl figure that begins to emerge from this digital nexus is situated in this ambivalence of freedom from embarrassment and liberated participation in social life, to permanent self-surveillance and market dependence. This 78 appears to be the character of the space set up by Tina and the TRoom into which individuals are hailed as girls. Since summer 1996, Tinanet has been a digital space for gi r ls 5 5 , controlled by Tampax to share stories of fun and embarrassment. Similar to " M y diary," it offers a textual place to gain insight into other girls' lives and in addition illuminates the darker side of a girl's life. The discourse of feminine protection is offered as a remedial strategy, as a relief from a potentially traumatic experience. Such narratives are intended to reshape a girl's life at a time when she is already dealing with her changing body and observing other gendered bodies. Houppert (1999:86) writes: The messages girls internalize about periods start early. Whatever and however girls learn about periods today, by the time they have them as adolescents, they're embarrassed. [....] In 1994, Seventeen magazine debuted a new column. Editors called it "Trauma-rama,"56 asking teens to write about "their most embarrassing moments." [....] According to Seventeen Senior Features Editor Robert Rorke, "Trauma-rama" [...] is extremely popular among its 2.5 million readers. [....] Like Teen magazine which runs a similarly hot column called "Why me? Your Horror Stories and Ultimate Embarrassments" [...] and YMs comparable "Say Anything: Your Most Humiliating Experiences," menstrual mortification is a constant theme. Houppert's observations show us that Tinanet is not the only place where girls are invited to confess their stories of secrecy and shame. Opening up these spaces for things that are not easily talked about corresponds to opening up new discursive (i.e. confessional) spaces. Compared to the time in the 193 0's when Tampax put its product on the market, the computer and the Internet provide us now with a technology to access a discourse of feminine protection that was once reserved to a smaller circle of people. From Marjorie 5 5 While Tina hails individuals as girls to share stories in the spirit of sisterhood, we cannot "really" know the sexes, genders, or ages of the contributors to the Tinanet. Despite of this, we can nevertheless read them as textual representations of girls' bodily experiences. 5 6 To this day, Seventeen as well as the magazines Teen and YM, mentioned below, run these columns. In the 1999 issues I studied, girls were conspicuously depicted in the centre of the image accompanying the stories. 79 May's Twelfth Birthday (http:\\wvvw.mirm.org), which I used to illustrate processes in the body politic in Chapter one, we sense that the boundaries of secrecy have been changing. That story begins with Marjorie wondering why her Cousin Margaret was so quiet at the party. Her mother replies: Come, dear, let us go to my room, where we can have a chat without being disturbed. [....] Up until a very few years ago, mothers and daughters did not share their secrets and companionship as we do now. Technologies of communication are not separate from ways of constructing and deconstructing spaces of secrecy. Today, there is the option of logging on the Internet to "chat" in the TRoom where girls can find others with whom to share "their secrets and companionship." A s a digital social space, Tinanet functions as incitement to a discourse of menstruation, breaks open spaces of silence, and thus provides us with another port of entry into girl-texts. Since Tina inaugurated the Tinanet in summer 1996, 210 stories had been published by the end of 1999. Through the large storage capacities o f today's computer systems, these stories can be accessed in Tinanet's archive. Each month, three to nine new stories are added without identifying the name of the author. Hudson (1984:49), in her discussion on "Femininity and Adolescence," suggests that in agony and problem columns the messages are depersonalized "so that they appeal to a teenage audience and they are not tied to the specific biography of an individual inquirer." Also , most narratives are not tied to a specific locality. "Those oh so embarrassing moments" play in places of one's own or a friend's home, in school, or in public (for example, shopping centre, neighbourhood or skihill) in almost equal distribution. In short, "it" can happen anywhere to any girl. However, only forty-five stories or about one fifth, deal explicitly with menstruation. These tales of menstrual embarrassment describe girls leaking, 80 menstrual stains on the borrowed jacket or towel, the dog dragging used pads out of the trash can, tampons and pads falling out of the backpack, or a slip of the tongue at the wrong moment. Only two of these stories have a self-help component at the end while most embarrassing incidents are witnessed by boys, a male crush, hot guy(s), cute boy(s), or a male sibling or parent. The reactions of the boys are mostly described with words such as "embarrassed," "grossed out," "freaked," or "laughed." The girls affected come out of the situation feeling "embarrassed," "mortified," "could have cried," "screaming," "running out," "in absolute horror," "never going back," "humiliated," "laughed about," or at best "could have been worse." The majority of the stories, almost eighty percent, extends a discourse o f menstruation into a larger context of panicking over undisciplined girl behaviour. They describe everyday life situations where girls spill , vomit, fall over, fart, pee in their pants or have chocolate stains on them, walk in the men's washroom, reveal underwear or naked body parts, such as breasts or genitals. The following phrases give an impression of girls' misfortunes as they are growing up: "the soda exploded all over [my male crush and me]", "my towel S L I P P E D O F F A N D R E V E A L E D E V E R Y T H I N G " , "you could see E V E R Y T H I N G [through my wet tight T-shirt], so people were reading the size tag on my bra", "everyone was staring at my Bugs Bunny underwear", or "the huge ball knocked me down and all the girls trampled over me while the boys laughed their heads off." About sixty-five percent of these stories describe dramatic moments in a girl's life as they happen in the presence of male-identified 5 7 crushes, cute boys, or simply boys. B y voluntarily displaying their "least favorite moments with other girls who have probably gone through the same or similar things", girls give way to a representation of themselves 81 as losing their face as girls in control. 5 8 These narratives identify girls being out of control of their bodies, or stated differently, a girl's teenage body becomes a signifier of an "untamed" body, and thus is well suited to be an object of protection and control. The feature of hyperlinks provides readers immediately with a set of expert scripts for dealing with bodily emissions and thus, restoring order. Topdrawer (with its two sections A Time for Answers by Dr. Iris Prager, An Answer Just For You by Tampax with responses to what they consider to be "hard questions"), and Answergirl (Tina's advise to a girl's problem) constitute a counterpart to Tinanet by offering 'civilized' techniques of feminine protection. In the Topdrawer (http://TRoom.corn/topdrawer/1rtime.html) we learn about feminine protection: You've seen ads on TV for "feminine protection". Protection for what, you want to know? For your clothes. Because the blood in your menstrual flow can stain your clothes, you need something to absorb it before it gets on your clothes. Basically there are two kinds of feminine protection products: pads [...] and tampons.59 B y combining narrowcasting media such as the Internet as well as broadcasting media such as television or magazines, of which I w i l l give an example later, Tampax makes use of communication technologies to suggest that bodily control can be exercised by embodying what Houppert calls a "menstrual etiquette." However, this script attempts to 5 / They are male-identified by the personal pronoun 'he' in the text or by name. 5 8 Peer girls remain onlookers of the scene and mostly come to stand second after the boys' significance in the shameful event. Emotions and behaviours of peer girls in these narratives show a wide range from being empathetic to snickering to trampling over their fellow girl. Girls in these stories do not present to us a helpful and prophylactic way of dealing with the "embarrassing moment" and thus, cannot offer "protection" for "another girl". Only a few stories provide us with a positive or self-help note of girls who say they survived it, laugh about it now, never would wear a baggy T-shirt at the gym anymore. Some of them suggest a heterosexual fairy-tale script that describes girls who "ended up going out with the guy". 5 9 There have been other techniques of feminine protection. Information via the Internet yields a variety of alternative menstrual products. For example, menstrual sponges or the Keeper Menstrual Cup are alternatives to tampons. Back in the 1930s a rubber menstrual cup was offered, however it did not sell well. Likely reasons for its demise include the fact that the tampon was also introduced in the 1930s and disposable pads were also relatively new (http://www.pacificcoast.net/~manymoons/history.html). In the 82 instill standards of menstrual etiquette beyond the actual physical function of menstruation. If feminine protection was only about saving another girl from staining her clothes, why is it that only eight percent of the embarrassing examples are about staining clothes due to menstruation? Protecting girls from staining their jeans, or more generally their clothes, suggests covering up what is seeping through from underneath. A stain of bodily fluid, a sight of a bra, or a revelation of genitals have become signs of a girl's sexuality best covered up with clothing. Stated differently, advertising her sexuality to boys, and feeling vulnerable rather than confident about it, comes to the surface here as an issue of feminine protection. Elias (1997) reminds us that the inscription of habits through bodily techniques and instilling standards, in this case, of feminine protection, works to reshaping us as individuals in our social relations. A s I described in Chapter one, the first Tampax mass market advertisement promised women "no belts, no pins, no pads, no chafing, no binding." A new comfort, a new bodily feeling, a new set of emotions was put forth in juxtaposition to an almost torturous experience o f "old" menstrual protection. In " A Time for Answers" at http://TRoom.com/topdrawer/trtime.html Tampax promises girls: "Tampons make it especially easy to be yourself during menstruation." While this "privilege" was sold to "thousands of women [who] have already used Tampax" in 1936, we are now informed that this circle has since been expanded to include "millions of girls and women [who] use tampons." 6 0 From these texts of feminine protection we learn that 1960s and 1970s other versions of menstrual cups appeared. In the late 1980s the "Keeper" was introduced and has been marketed in a low key way, at low cost. 6 0 These phrases are taken from Tampax's 1936 advertisement discussed earlier and Tampax's website "A Time for Answers". 83 an increasing population of girls and women, by subjecting themselves to the new bodily technique of using tampons, have achieved a 'civilized' image of girlhood and womanhood. A t the same time, this technique suggests increasing possibilities for individualization. To be oneself is directly linked to one's physical parts and functions, as well as to the broader powers that shape our everyday lives. Girls ' feelings of embarrassment about bodily emissions or exposure of body parts, such as breasts or genitals or buttocks, or garments that cover them, is an embodiment of a gender specific standard of emotions. The habit of using tampons as a means of feminine protection is an embodiment of a social etiquette that expresses a certain standard about desires and feelings of bodily, or more specifically, sexual conduct. This conduct is linked to a knowledge of sex and gender specific changes "outside and inside" the body during puberty. With this, Tampax places feminine protection in a larger societal context of how to deal with puberty and sexuality. In " A Time For Answers", a medical, pedagogic discourse is used to steer the ways which govern what is "thinkable" about menstruation and its related discourses. A medical authority by the name of Dr. Iris Prager helps "young people like you," "boys and girls" to understand "as much as you can about your changing body and feelings." Here the teen body is turned into an object of institutional and adult discourse. The knowledge Tampax introduces in this process of change ultimately aims at the formation of a metamorphosed human being: It's a big deal when your looks change. But the biggest change of all is one you can't see. Inside both boys and girls, the reproductive organs - the parts of your body that make it possible to have children - start to work. Once puberty is over, you will have an adult body, inside and out. This means that you will be physically able to become a parent (http://TRoom.com/topdrawer/trtime.html). 84 Tampax gives an image of girls and boys after puberty that puts physical functions into a context of reproductive activity and thus, of heterosexuality. With statements such as "[after] puberty, a girl can become pregnant and a boy can father a child," texts of feminine protection merge with inscriptions of specific sets of desires and emotions that target teenagers in preparation for "an adult body, inside and out" and for the inevitable adult objective of heterosexual reproduction. The Tampax website discursively maps a context for the TRoom and girls in an adult world. Back to the main menu of the Tampax homepage at http://www.tampax.com that I mapped out earlier, readers are offered a port of entry into a central space where "Women Know" that integrates the TRoom into a broader context of adult and expert knowledge. Here, the TRoom ("A webzine for teens") is represented as part of a tri-fold knowledge together with two adult sections that lead to respective hyperlinks: Body Matters ("A resource for women, parents, and teachers"), and TLounge ("It's new! It's more than a talk show for 20-somethings") 6 1. Both hyperlinks (http://bodymatters.com/ and http://tlounge.com/) offer medical and corporate advice for girls that can be accessed from the TRoom. The TLounge (http://www.tlounge.com) focuses on the population of women over twenty. The hyperlink here offers us an insight into "adult" women's worlds. The knowledge of women described here is part of the physical look for the TLounge (another code of stereotypical femininity expressed as the know-how of "styling"). A l l the different settings offer a racially diverse representation of women, but with a white woman in the centre. The hyperlink "Panel" turns out to be a misnomer for a talk show with serious limitations on interactivity in which three women with occupations, such as 85 student, writer, or web site designer, voice their opinions on themes such as "Resolutions for the New Millennium" or "Swinging Single". The hyperlink "Biographies" introduces young women from the professional sector of writers and journalists. Similar to Tina, these voices interpellate primarily middle to upper class, white women. The TLounge can be read as a symbolic system for representing women beyond the teen years. It seems that young women of the TLounge have gained a status of menstrual etiquette that models the achievement of invisibility and the total bodily control of menstrual emissions. Reassuring corporate lines on Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) and expert advice by Dr. Iris Prager to older women on the topic on menopause, eclipses the everyday menstrual experiences of female/feminine "20-somethings." With this, Tampax constructs a network of subtle threads to catch its consumers' confidence into "the community of young women" who are in control of their bodily emissions and, implicitly, of their heterosexuality. Through representations of "20-somethings" in digital communication, the Tampax corporate economy develops symbolic systems around the adult physical body to expand its power beyond the teenage body. Body matters is another section of women's episteme that provides us with a context for the teenage body growing into adulthood. It is a link for "women, parents, and teachers"; thus, it links women to the institutions of personality62, family, and school, each of these presented by medical authorities who give answers to personal questions on the topics of Tampax products, menstruation, sexuality, reproduction, and relationships. A Parents' Guide helps in "talking to a young girl about puberty and getting her period," and a "Teaching Guide is designed to be a comprehensive reference for anyone involved 6 1 The text in quotation marks shows up on screen as soon as the cursor is moved over the respective image. 6 2 The institution of'personality' is at best understood as a self-regulatory institution. 8 6 in educating young people about puberty, menstruation, and the human reproduction system." Tampax corporate communications package their product into a web of scientific and medical discourse of feminine protection. Institutions such as the family and school are endowed with the function for inculcating modern sanitary technology. In providing knowledge of feminine protection through the Internet as a bi-directional, interactive technology, Tampax employs a technology that can help to address what is not easily talked about while attempting to steer, for example, the social relations of mother-daughter63 and teacher-student by this same knowledge. Although the TRoom is considered to be a virtual room for teenage girls, the feature of hyperlinks facilitates a fluidity of boundaries between "adult rooms" and "teens' rooms", between "parents' and childrens' space", or between "students' and teachers' areas". Pre-adolescents can access sexual and menstrual advice via the Internet and thus, can circumvent other channels of authority, such as by asking parents and teachers to inform them. Theoretically, the Internet can upset the order of discourse. Again, the adult voices of the Tampax corporate institution step into the authoritative place of the institutions of the family and school. "Menstrual instruction, unlike sex ed", as Houppert (1997:81) suggests, "often relies entirely on a curriculum created and peddled by sanitary protection companies." Parental and teacher authority can now be digitally substituted with corporate authority on feminine protection text-work. Tampax corporation remains the administrator of teenage girl selves and social relations. Indeed, 6 3 The following excerpt from Body Matters (http://www.troom.com/topdrawer/trtime.html) gives us an example of the ways in which Tampax makes use of the institution of family to slide in its knowledge and its product while suggesting a certain script for family relations: "I got my period and I haven't told my mom yet. It's really hard for me to talk about things like this. Any suggestions?" - Iris: "Lots of girls have the same concern. [....] Leave your mom a note, somewhere that only she will find it (on her pillow or in her topdrawer). Congratulate her for having a daughter who has her period! Or, go shopping with her and 87 Internet technologies highlight that menstrual instruction is linked to a professional and corporate discourse of sex. Body matters is a virtual place where Tampax corporate communications extend their inculcation of menstrual etiquette to include a discourse of women's sexual and reproductive technologies. The expansion of a discourse of feminine protection to a discourse of sex and gender widens the field of political and economic power exerted over the body politic. Seemingly "more adult" questions related to a discourse of feminine protection are not found in the TRoom, but in one of the other hyperlinks. In Body matters (http://bodymatters.com/ask/ask47.html), for example, menstruation is openly linked to sex and sexuality: Dear Iris, Hi there. I have got a few questions. Here they are: 1) Will I get pregnant if I have sex? My friends have had unprotected sex and not gotten pregnant. 2) Could I have sex during my period without getting pregnant? 3) When is the safest time to have sex without protection? Thanks, Worrier Dear Worrier, 1) Inevitably, yes. Most women get pregnant within the first 6 months of unprotected intercourse. I don't know why your friends have not gotten pregnant. 2) If you have a short menstrual cycle and a long period it is possible to become pregnant during your period. You ovulate 14 days BEFORE the start of your next period. You figure out the chances that you could get pregnant, using your cycle numbers. 3) There is no time that is always the "safe" time because we are not perfect machines. I suggest you see a gynecologist if you are planning to have sex and get a reliable form of birth control. Good luck—Iris Here, libidinal and reproductive bodies are part of heteronormative texts of feminine protection within a restricted notion of sex and sexuality. Sexual experience is discursively limited to a particular representation of 'thinkable' and calculable sex and of sexuality through expert advice. Iris' answer does not write girls/women into a queer script that would challenge normative notions of phallogocentric heterosexuality. One casually drop a box of pads or tampons into the cart. [....] She'll be your best friend during this time in your 88 can "have sex" without getting pregnant, depending on the sex of the actors and the sexual practices performed. Also, the "safest time to have sex" is tied to a notion of feminine protection that speaks to the familied or gendered body and precludes the libidinal body that also knows the rules of consensual, safe sex. Here I recall Rubin (1978; 1984) who calls for a disruption of power in the political economy of the sexed and gendered bodies to break open symbolic spaces of sex and gender. Thinking different family and gender arrangements and thinking sexuality as different social practices, has to do with engaging in a powerful struggle to think the embodied subject of new knowledges, subjected by new practices. While Tampax's economy achieves an expansion of the productive body when selling their product to girls who leak and stain their clothes, its grip on the gendered and libidinal body reaches further into the regulatory dimensions of the body politic. When we understand its material and discursive power upon bodies, as Foucault shows in his analysis of power and scientific discourse that work on the body, modern sanitary technology can be considered to be a technology of the self by extensive normative control. Likewise, if we think of ourselves as embodiments of technosubjectivities through the digital communication personified by Tina, then we are also confronted with the possibility of girls positioned in a web spun by fantasy and rational power. A network of fine threads is constructed by Tampax to snag its customers' confidence by making its product and a discourse of menstruation appear transparent. While Tampax texts remind us about our biological body when informing us about the health threat that Tampax tampons can pose to women by possibly causing TSS and cancer via the carcinogenic substance of dioxin, this warning drowns in the flood of life." 89 assuring explanations that using this sanitary technology helps to avoid staining the clothes and to "be yourself in a time of confusion and insecurity. Tampax invites us, similar to the strategies of advertisements by cigarette companies that O'Nei l l (1985: 91-117) describes, to risk the natural body on behalf of social life. This rationality of feminine protection draws wider textual circles and may increasingly develop more fantastic dimensions, in particular by shaping and reshaping subjectivities through digital technology. Thinkable girl texts N e w communication and information technology have made the collapsing of boundaries of fantasy and reality possible, which may also open up new possibilities for social relations and selves. In the next section, I w i l l address this with Haraway (1991:150) in mind who states: "Foucault's biopolitics is a flaccid premonition of cyborg politics, a very open field." This phrase directs us to thinking the body through a further development of the body politic made possible by new technologies whereby the outcome of this next step of the technologies of the self is left both ambivalent and open. Thinking the body in this open field leads to an inquiry into the networks of technoscience as a strategy for both social control and the disruption of normative scripts for girls. B y offering cyborgs as hybrids of machine and organism, and thus as new figures of humanity at the cusp of new postmodern possibilities, Haraway (1991; 1997) suggests that we need to think of a body-in-connection which does not stand outside, but is part of complex networks of scientific and cultural practices. Haraway (in: Penley and Ross, 1991:6) reminds us to "locate myself and us in the belly of the monster, in a 90 techxiostrategic discourse within a technology [that] has determined what counts as our own bodies in crucial ways." A s I w i l l further demonstrate, thinking our social relations and selves as part of the potentially fantastic dimensions of P & G ' s multinational corporate strategies and Internet technologies is part of a powerful process of remapping and reimagining the boundaries of the human body. Remapping the body through digital technologies helps to supplant the existing discursive formation of girls, producing, in its turn, new subjectivities in a powerful way. The embodiment of bodily practices and discourses of feminine protection moves in conjunction with the technologies that also make them possible. For example, a flood of narrative activities can be released through a virtual window. The TRoom website illustrates that Internet technology facilitates an incitement to and proliferation of narratives that discursively map "unruly" bodies of girls that leak, spill , fall over, or make a slip of the tongue. The same "undisciplined" bodies, so the scientific-medical voice of Dr. Iris Prager reminds us, can become pregnant and have children. B y acquiring the knowledge that "it" could happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone, girls not only come to personify this knowledge which the discourse of feminine protection produces, but at the same time they learn self-regulation and self-surveillance by embodying this "gaze from nowhere" (Haraway, 1991:188). New computer technologies may help to supplant Foucault's (1980b) concept of the Panopticon that I introduced in Chapter one by making possible a Superpanopticon capable of facilitating a potent gaze into the most intimate spaces of the self. A s I already mentioned above, the TRoom gives us insight into a wide range o f aspects of girls' lives according to Tampax. Apart from My Diary or Tinanet, various 91 other hyperlinks such as Penpals/Travel (Tina's travel reports, mostly to Western Europe), Looking good (advice on fashion), Sports and Fitness (biographies of sports women or suggestions on fitness for girls), Cooltunes (T-Music Rating system on female musicians), or Topdrawer (A Time for Answers to hard questions) are representations of and gazes into a certain image of girlhood. With these representations of girls and their life styles, P & G piggybacks on liberal feminism and takes advantage of digital network organization to proliferate a discourse of modern, urban teenage girlhood. The insight we get into girls' lives is an ambivalent mixture that both gives free access to a girl's spaces and opens up those spaces for the purpose of control. For example, the hyperlink Topdrawer (http://www.TRoom.com/topdrawer/trtime.html) presents corporate scripts to the question, "What do you think of your body?," and gives us a hyperphysical gaze into girls' and boys' bodies. In times of personal transformations of teenage lives, Tampax supplies girls with a space where they can find answers about their selves and social relations, but it also is a space where Tampax's corporate economy protects and controls the knowledge "about your body and feelings" (ibid.). About one fifth of this section explains male bodily changes during puberty, but the main focus is "all about girls" (ibid.). A s suggested above, Internet technologies could be used for teenage girl peer talk and networking through webzines or chat rooms. However, Tampax does not include any such opportunity for uncontrolled space for teenagers in their website. In A Time for Answers (ibid.) we read: I feel scared about the changes I'm going through, HELP!!!!! Iris [Tampax's medical advisor]: Don't worry. You are in good company! Many girls feel the same way. It is scary and EXCITING to go through puberty. It isn't just physical changes but also social changes you go through too. [....] Puberty is new... you don't need to have all the answers, but the adults around you do! 92 Iris, a P & G employee, becomes the key facilitator of such knowledge o f change to guide girls into an "adult" script. While Tampax takes teenage concerns and anxieties seriously, girls are still called to adhere to a structured hierarchy of adult and scientific authority that points to certain reconfigurations in social relations through anatomical changes of individual bodies. The gaze into the female, as well as the male body, concentrates on the reproductive system which, as Tampax teaches us, begins to work at the onset of puberty through hormonal signals of the brain. 6 4 The link made between anatomical and psychical inscription and the dissected body reduced to the reproductive organs, prepares readers for a specific way to plug into a grammar of girlhood. Binary anatomical differences between the sexes are represented to provide a scientific ground for feminine protection, that is, the female "internal reproductive system" in contrast to the male reproductive system. A s Tampax (ibid.) writes about the sexual organs: Each organ in the reproductive system has a special function, and they all work together to prepare your body in case you want to have a baby one day. After puberty, a girl can become pregnant and a boy can father a child. The larger discourse of feminine protection is cleanly connected to a discourse o f sex and reproductive heterosexuality. It seems that here, as Rubin (1975) argues, we find the standards of girlhood and womenhood mapped onto female genitals and her reproductive system. The particular "grammar of eroticism" (Rubin, in: Weed and Schoor, 1997:85) that is represented as a thinkable script for girls feeds into preparation for having sex with a boy. Disorderly bodies are turned into disciplined science using abstracted images of binary differences to illustrate the reproductive system, which in turn comes to require 6 4 An interesting graph (http://www.troom.com/insertion.html) illustrating the psychic inscription connected to sex and sexuality shows the direct line drawn from the brain from where "the signal" is sent to the reproductive organs to initiate and continue the process of sexual maturity. 93 the application of modern sanitary technology to girls. In the following pages, I explore how this discourse of feminine protection, which is also a discourse o f self-control, is closely linked to i f not supplanted by a sexual discourse through digital technology that panders to the libidinal body. Arousing Interest in the TRoom Communicative interaction through the digital TRoom, as I demonstrated earlier, employs a format of incessant opening up and gazing into "girl spaces" and thereby shifts boundaries of what is "seeable", "thinkable", and "sayable". 6 5 The TRoom provides us with Tampax's primary interpretive frame for thinking girls on-line. A s is clear from what I have said about the TRoom, it provides us with a heteronormative, reproductive frame for girl texts. Digital technologies of subject formation seem to open up a wide array of knowable spaces, and thus of the possibilities for thinking and rethinking bodies. A s Haraway (1991, 1997) reminds us, visualizing digital technologies are without apparent limit. This vision and the seemingly intimate gaze into girls' lives are significant technologies employed by Tampax to arouse interest in the TRoom. Thinking a girl's life and body through digital communication leans on the seductive format Tampax uses to mirror the voyeuristic dimension of the Internet cottage industry: the 'live' Web-cam (sex) shows. In 1996, the year before the TRoom was put on the Internet, we saw jennicam at http://www.jennicam.org/, one of the first websites in 6 5 As Foucault (1975) demonstrates, power over bodies rests on the discursive and visualizing technologies that configure a knowledge of girls and boys whose thoughts on their bodies are organized in some ways according to these ideas. The TRoom is an example of a digital place that facilitates a proliferation of a discourse of feminine protection; I argue that it makes for another example where we can reject the notion 94 North America to become a classic of the keyhole links offering a gaze into a young woman's life. The technological novelty of jennicam in the larger girlcam-wave is illustrated by its homepage that reads like a new entry into a cyber dictionary: jen-ni-cam ('jen-e-, kam) n (1996) 1: a real-time look into the real life of a young woman 2: an undramatized photographic diary for public viewing esp. via the internet This definition of jennicam can be read as a model for the cams that record and play the everyday life of people, including their intimate moments, for the public. The textual production of Jenni through computer technology gives us an insight into a young woman's life in various rooms in her life. Like the TRoom, hyperlinks to "jenni's written diary, updated sporadically" give us access to her diary and "a talk-show-esque real video broadcast usu. [sic] of nothing in particular" which presents Jenni talking to other women, offering her new year's resolutions, or flying on an airplane. Further, the website at www.jennicam.org/gallery/index.html displays eroticized images of her female body for the consumption of the viewers. Purchasing a membership allows for a view into Jenni's life updated every minute for one year, while the guest view is updated every fifteen minutes. Since jennicam, public viewing of the private sphere of women and men on the Internet has also become part of the burgeoning online sex industry.66 Digital technologies strip the boundaries of intimate girl spaces in order to tease viewers into them, and ultimately to buy the (self-)represented images of girls. This is organized directly by a political economy of gendered and sexed bodies. of the repressive hypothesis, contrary to Houppert's (1999) suggestion in the title of her book The Curse: Menstruation, the Last Unmentionable Taboo. 6 6 There is no shortage of "webcam" sites such as Jennycam at http:www.jennycam.de where camgirls (or camboys on other websites, such as www.johncamlive.com intended for a gay male audience) offer frivolous and erotic performances for the fictitious viewer. 95 Tampax employs a similar format 6 7 to jennicam in that jennicam.org shows that the corporatization of gendered and sexed bodies on the Internet precedes the TRoom. Piggybacking on this digital format of gazing into girls' lives, Tampax chooses the TRoom window as a technology of seduction and Tina as the representative figure of girlhood that gives the TRoom a friendly appeal with its wholesome and white, middle class girls. Entering the digital window of the TRoom gives us a certain view of Tina and her bedroom, framed by what is not represented. A unity of a "girl nation" finds representation inside this frame whereas "others" including black, rural, working class, i l l , poor people fall outside. In economics as in cyberspace, "there are no perplexed, harassed, tired, disappointed, crazy consumers" (O'Neil l , 1985:103). Tampax white-washes the political economy of girls in the business of feminine protection and presents a clean and sexy image of girls. Although we w i l l not find Tina as an Internet girl in her bedroom performing at the requests of clients in front of a video camera, we can access (some of) her secrets. Through monthly installments we are brought up to date on what is happening in her room and life. The format of the web-cam recordings appears seductive because it anticipates that via the Internet we can get into a girl's bedroom, nose around, and find 6 7 In her article on the changing face of sex work through the Internet titled "Putting business into the bedrooms of the nation", Leah McLaren (The Globe and Mail, March 27 th, 1999) describes the advent of the Web camera as "a tool for amateurs and professionals alike to make money by performing strip teases or sex acts under the watchful eye of the Web cam" (http://news.globetechnology.com/). Her article describes Internet sex as a burgeoning industry with women performing for the pleasures of men. However, Internet technology also makes possible forms of girls' self-representation that lacks an explicit heterosexual interpretive context and thus, encourages a homo-erotic look. Diana Fuss (1992) describes such disruption of the "photographic contract" in her article "Fashion and the Homospectatorial Look." 6 8 Anne McClintock (1995) writes about Pears soap as an imperial technology of'civilization'. She describes the poetics of cleanliness as a poetics of social discipline that comes to reshape the intertwined realms of experience of gender, race, and class and thus, to produce cultures of "civilization". I mention this as an parallel illustration of Tampax's classed and racialized attempt to construct a 'clean nation of girls'. 96 out what a girl has in her topdrawer, writes in her diary, stores in her computer, or how she behaves in her social life at anytime. A s described above, Tina calls individuals as girls into the TRoom. Thus, the TRoom presents a view into a girl's life for the explicit appreciation of a healthy, white, middle-class girl by a female audience rather than for male spectators. Call ing girls into the TRoom, and thereby into a voyeuristic visit to "girl space" by using an erotic format of the webcam technology, may encourage what Fuss (1992) terms a "homospectatorial look" 6 9 for queer and questioning girls who seek meaning against the TRoom's main frame. Such a mode of looking encourages thinking girls to identify and desire one another. This is not to say that old hierarchies of sex and desire disappear, as is evident from the narratives of embarrassment cited above where the spectator role of boys is significant. However, i f Internet technologies offer a high degree of individualized construction, they also provide great possibilities to create a self, or selves, which works for those engaged in the creation. 6 y In a self-critical response, Diana Fuss (1996:383) writes: '"Fashion and the Homospectatorial Look' is not an essay I would write again. In my mind, this early attempt to utilize psychoanalysis in the service of an antihomophobic politics takes Freud's description of the mechanisms of identification and desire at face value, overlooking the ideological production of the concepts themselves." While in my example the ideological production of the concept of girl in the figure of Tina is still linked to the dominant scripts of gender and sex (as well as class and race), the notion of a homoerotic look as a "mode of looking" disrupts the heteronormative scripts of the pleasure in viewing and vision. 97 Incorporating desire In an attempt to ravish the teenage libidinal body, Tampax also uses a suggestive format in commercial print media to gain access to teenage women's sexuality while leaving it up to the readers to sexually activate the text. A s mentioned above, Tampax uses broadcasting technologies of communication such as television 7 0 and mass market magazines to direct potential consumers to their Tampax website. In this case, a multi-media reach reinforces Tampax's marketing strategy. However, these texts can be read outside the Troom's primary interpretive frame of heteronormativity, which I do below by reading the following advertisement against the grain. Throughout the year 1999, readers of teenage magazines such as YM (Young and Modern)11, Teenpeople and Seventeen find Tampax advertisements7 2 promoting its product. For their teenage audience, Tampax ran a full-page advertisement designed as a clipping from the classifieds against a blue background. Procter & Gamble launched a new television commercial for their Tampax brand which began airing in March 1999: a thirty-second spot shows a series of Woodstock scenes (Fortune, May 5th, 1999). There is no hint of what the advertisement is selling until the very end, when a young woman is shown dancing in the rain and the mud and the words "Tampax was there" appear on screen. As in the following discussion of one particular Tampax advertisement in print media, Tampax plays on suggestive images of heterosexual penetration. 1 See, for example, YM (Young and Modern) November 1999:47 or Teenpeople November 1999:47. 7 2 Two full page advertisements were most common and alternated with one another: the one I describe and analyze and "Rosie the Riveter" who says: "We Can Do It!" However, a reading of the image of Rosie the Riveter is very rich and dense and deserves a chapter by itself. It could be addressed through the provocative parable of the "thinking statues" that Elias (1987) suggests, to illustrate the enclosed modern self in relation to society. The imprint on Rosie's arm that visually forms a triangular shape with her fist at the top reads: "[Iampax| was there," also inspires a queer reading. 98 Tampax tampon advertisement published in YM (Young and Modern), November 1999, p. 47 Statements of sanitary technology blend with sexual innuendo in a "singles" advertisement. The ad torn out of a newspaper, decontextualized and now recontextualized, lying against a background of rumpled blue satin suggests the height of 99 sensuousness and luxury in bedding. Stamped upon this blue satin is the declaration: "Tampax was there". Where was Tampax? In activating this text, readers make sense of the ambiguities:"... not plastic... easy going and available... in a multipack". In its use of a singles ad peppered with ambiguous metaphors, Tampax links its product with sexuality. Rather than a mere plug to absorb menstrual b lood 7 3 , Tampax tampons are emphasized as being convenient and sexy. B y attaching tampons to pervasive dreams o f sexual desire, Tampax attempts to seduce girls to buy Tampax Satin tampons. With this advertisement Tampax suggestively links menstruation to sexual practices. The sexualization of the menstruating woman is achieved by giving tampons an erotic charge. The advertisement seems to reverse the direction of interpellation and thus presents a woman who takes charge of her own subjectification. What she seeks appears inside the textual window and describes the object she hails into this intimate relationship with her. What is outside the heteronormative frame constitutes the parameters of the symbolic system that gives us the interpretive context for what she seeks. For example, "must have pulse" provides us with a sexual metaphor outside the frame of the ad that tells us what/whom the modern woman seeks. The tampon must not have pulse. The lack of a concrete system of representation releases the imaginary and encourages fantasies about who and what she seeks. Stated differently, by the high level of abstracted and fragmented image the modern woman can place herself in any imaginable script, and thus also outside normative texts of heterosexuality and within homoerotic scripts. In the age 7 3 In the history of the development of its product, Tampax stresses the medical background of the tampon. From "Small Wonder: How Tambrands began, prospered and grew" at http://www.tampax.com/first.html, we learn: For more than a century, physicians had been using improvised plugs of cotton to absorb secretions in surgery and to apply antiseptics in the vagina or to staunch hemorrhaging there. It was, in fact, a physician who thought of taking the tampon beyond improvisation [....]. Dr. Earle Cleveland Haas was a general practitioner, a courtly man who wore a white shirt every day [...]." Medical surgical hygiene and 100 of Sil icon valley, what she seeks is not plastic, but a phallic resignification of desire in dildoes, "easy going and available... in a multipack". On the bottom of the page, a small phallic image graphically isolates the "well-rounded" tip of the Tampax tampon, and the text alongside reinforces the "ease of insertion." To me, the image suggests the use o f a tampon as symbol of a resigmfied phallic tool for erotic sexual pleasure sought by the "modern woman." The Tampax tampon emerges also as an object to faciliate initial and continuous sexual experiences. For teenage girls, tampons may be tools aiding sexual self-discovery. Easy insertion can be repeated numerous times by buying a multipack which provides a modern woman with different sizes of tampons. Metaphorical readings of the multipack provide us also with possible sexual readings of multiple orgasms and poly-amory. 7 4 These images encourage a reconfiguration of the asexual and passive female body and project an image of a modern, desiring woman who is open to different experiences. A s de Castell and Bryson (1998) suggest, what "disturbs relations between sex, gender, and tool use, however, would appear to trouble a powerful node in the matrix of social-identity construction." Thus, such readings outside Tampax's primary interpretive frame rewrite the grammar of girlhood and reshape the sexual and gendered images of girls and their tools. the everyday whiteness of clothes are exemplary symbols of everyday life cleanliness and self-regulated purity that reflects Tampax's attempt of constructing its tampon as a vehicle of social purity. 4 1 use the word poly-amory instead of promiscuity to designate the possibility of ethically and socially acceptable sexual relations beyond monogamy which is implicitly endorsed by the advertisement itself. 101 Leaky boundaries Rather than conceiving Tampax tampons merely as a technique of controlling bodily functions or a product of the sanitary protection industry, it can also be understood as a technology of seduction. The how-to texts for inserting a tampon in the vagina, as I w i l l describe later, can be read as preparation for, or practice of, vaginal sex. The tampon is a sexualized tool in Tampax's corporate body politic. Prince Charles referred to this intimate connection between Tampax tampons and sexuality in a secret telephone 7 5 conversation between him and Camil la Parker Bowles. "Prince Charles jokes that he wishes he could be turned into a Tampax" (Globe & Mail, January 14 t h 1993: A l ) 7 6 . From what has come to be known as 'The Camillagate Tapes', 7 7 we learn that Tampax tampons successfully panders to the libidinal body and thus, can have titillating qualities: Charles: What about me? The trouble is I need you several times a week. Camilla: Mmmm, so do 1.1 need you all the week. All the time. Charles: Oh. God. I'll just live inside your trousers or something. It would be much easier! Camilla: (laughing) What are you going to turn into, a pair of knickers? Both laugh Camilla: Oh, You're going to come back as a pair of knickers. Charles: Or, God forbid a Tampax. Just my luck! (Laughs) Camilla: You are a complete idiot (Laughs). Oh, what a wonderful idea. Charles: My luck to be chucked down the lavatory and go on and on forever swirling round on the top, never going down. Camilla: (Laughing) Oh, Darling! Charles: Until the next one comes through. Camilla: Oh, perhaps you could come back as a box. Charles: What sort of box? Camilla: A box of Tampax, so you could just keep going. Charles: That's true. Camilla: Repeating yourself. .(Laughing) While the telephone is a different social format than the Internet, Poster (1995:25-30) suggests the Internet imitates the telephone's decentralized qualities, and being on the telephone is also like being in cyberspace in having a "virtual" or "near substitute of face-to-face communication" to some degree. 7 6 'Camillagate' and with it Prince Charles' desire to be re-incarnated as a Tampax go front page on January 14th, 1993 in 53 countries (http://www.pbs.org/wgblVpages/frontline/shows/royals/etc/cron.html). 7 7 The newspapers Sunday Mirror and Sunday People printed the text from the 1989 recorded Camillagate Tapes in full on January 17th, 1993 making it available to millions. Today, new information technologies make it possible to access this transcript anytime in the 'underground archives' at http://www.flashback.se/archive/camilla.txt. 102 Here, the virtual incorporation of Tampax comes to stand for thinking sex via telecommunications. Modern communications, and increasingly Internet technologies, offer various public and private virtual places for being wired for sex. A desire to be incarnated as a tampon is a way of imagining sliding into a vagina. Once inserted in the vaginal orifice, a Tampax tampon is associated with invisibility and with amnesia of its positioning. A s Tampax reminds us in its instructions: "If the tampon is in correctly, you shouldn't feel it at al l ." While sanitary protection in symbolic exchange through telecommunications can be read as a stimulating part of safe sex online, it can also be read as part of a secret conversation between two lovers at a distance who need to hide their sexual desire in public. Tampax advertising - and the free publicity that Prince Charles lends to Tampax -can be understood as a metaphor of sexual secrecy. However, for two upper class adults, the tampon metaphor in the 'Camillagate Tapes' came to be a "bloody leak" of their intimate conversation and desires. A s public, upper class figures, both married and with children, they were seen to offend the social etiquette of good taste. To openly link the sexual to menstrual discourse in a titillating way may be more associated with teenage behaviour than with people of the ruling classes. Discussing Tampax tampons to express sexual desires, to absorb bodily fluids and to be absorbed by a bodily opening of a woman, is perhaps associated with the dirtiness of menstruation, and in a figurative sense with "talking dirty." The scandal of this "talking dirty" lies, however, in the embodiment of the tampon. This takes us back to thinking the body whereby 'Camillagate' helps me to illustrate Tampax's corporate body politic. What is "scandalous" is related to what O 'Nei l l 103 (1985: 71ff.) describes as the problem of the medieval K ing who must be furnished with Two Bodies: with the communicative body on the level of body politics and the physical body. On the level of the body politics, the K ing never dies because his body is and must be replaced by another body for the Kingdom to survive. In Camillagate however, we have to deal with the physical and sexual body of a Prince. He wants to become a tampon in a vagina. This embodiment describes the 'scandalist' element in the royal Corporation that needs the Prince and his subjects to embody its royal body politic. Thus, 'Camillagate' helps us to understand at least two things in Tampax's body politic. First, when Prince Charles wants to become a Tampax tampon in order to be able to enter Camilla's vagina, the tampon comes to represent the whole, that is, the man as well as the corporation. In wanting to become a box of Tampax tampons, to repetitively come back into Camilla, he constructs himself as the reproductive body o f Tampax's political economy of heterosexuality (this serial repetition is also suggested in the advertisement by the phrase "to go on and on forever swirling around"). Through this fragmented representation, Prince Charles becomes a commoditized sexual body and reasserts Tampax's domination of a heteronormative, phallocentric corporate body politic. Secondly, as the royal body politic needs a Prince to embody it, so does the corporate body politic. A n impersonal institution or corporation needs subjects to physically embody its body politic. Specifically, Tampax needs the embodiment o f girls as subjects of its corporate body politic for its survival, or stated differently, the physical body of girls as a site of incorporating a commodity of sanitary technology, makes all the girls subjects to Procter & Gamble's body politic. This political economy thus converts the heterofeminine body into an exchange object for men that is brought to the level of 104 corporate economy to make monetary profit. If girls and women did not embody this position as 'subjects' or incorporate this technology, it would signify the end of Tampax's corporate body politic. This takes us back to the importance of thinking the body and embodiments of texts when investigating Tampax's body politic. In the development of this body politic where comfort and freedom in everyday activities were advertised from the 1930's to today, there has been a shift toward the sexualization of all bodies, even the 'load' of the body politic. Tampax presents images for opening up intimate spaces of girls as a faithful parallel to how their line of products can be mapped through vaginal geography. A s 'Camillagate' illustrates, getting into the female body who then embodies the commodity is central to Tampax's body political strategy. Making the skin look transparent and getting a look into the genital zone of girls is part o f powerful technologies of the TRoom. A s mentioned above, A Time for Answers provides us with that "Body Talk" by giving us an abstracted view of the reproductive system. This sexual and abstracted categorization of girls and boys by their respective anatomical functions emerges as the underlying strategy to produce corporate and scientific knowledge of girls and the incorporation of feminine protection. TRoom's hyperlink Personal Matters at http://TRoom.com/topdrawer/insertion.html, with instructions on tampon use, shows us the incorporation of the tampon and thus, projects an image of a girl from the inside and of tampons as inside and outside the female body. A s part of the instructive advice Tampax writes in Personal Matters: Tampax directs girls frequently to this website from Answergirl or the TLounge by making use of the hyperlink technology which I discussed earlier as a networking technique between sections of texts while blurring their boundaries. 105 Most of us will try and use a tampon at some time! And so it's important to know how to insert a tampon the right way. Inserting a tampon seems tricky at first, but after trying a few times, insertion becomes as easy as putting on lipstick. In comparing tampon application to lipstick application, Tampax reinforces attributes of femininity to the female body. Hudson (1984:37) suggests that in mainstream interpretations, "the [...] emphasis on anatomical difference is paralleled in the set of stereotypes in which the dichotomized constructs of masculinity and femininity are formulated." Inserting a tampon is constructed as a performance of femininity that needs to be learned. In establishing that "most girls" attempt to use a tampon, Tampax suggests this technique of insertion as part of a normal script for girls enacting femininity 7 9 . To "insert a tampon the right way" (rather than the wrong way) suggests a normative script for the act of insertion, and thus seems to legitimize the need for both writing and reading these instructions carefully. That first experiences of inserting a tampon are not necessarily effortless is attested to in the following excerpts from Tampax's advice in Body matters that point to the need for instructions taken from "Frequently Asked Questions" at http://bodymatters.com/questions/: Is it normal to feel faint while inserting a tampon? This normally doesn't occur. However, occasionally some girls have found that they will feel faint when inserting a tampon, particularly the first time. If this happens, efforts to insert the tampon should be discontinued. After a little while you may wish to try again. This time, be certain the tampon is well lubricated and make sure you are in a relaxed position. Some beginners have to try several times before they are successful. If you carefully and slowly insert the tampon, you should not feel faint. Learning about insertion in this process of feminine 'civilization' is here more closely linked to the sexual practice of penetration. The tampon, and further, "water-based gel 7 9 A rejection of incorporating this notion of femininity could take the forms of rejecting the use of a tampon, of inserting it "the right way", or in distancing oneself from insertion. My thoughts on the 106 such as K - Y jel ly [to lubricate] the rounded end of the tampon applicator," as we learn from the website Personal Matters, are described as the tools in performing and practicing insertion. B y buying these products and incorporating them, they now not only appear as an integral part in the construction of the gendered body but also, as argued above, of the heterosexual body. In late teenage years, girls are supposed to be in control of vaginal insertion and capable of incorporating technologies of feminine protection as the following excerpt from Tampax's "Ask Iris" in Body matters at http://bodymatters.com/ask/ask46.html shows. Dear Iris, I'm 19 years old, and I have never used a tampon. I only use pads. I think tampons would be so much more convenient, but I can't bring myself to use them. I tried twice over a long expanse of time, but I simply haven't the self-control to insert. What should I do? Reese Dear Reese, Get a grip girl. This is not brain surgery. You are merely inserting a tampon through the opening in your vagina into your body. Millions of girls and women do this daily. I suggest you read the info in www.TRoom.com/topdrawer/insertion.html for great instructions. Iris The ability to perform self-insertion becomes a matter of managing one's heterofeminine body and thus, of achieving self-competence. Getting a grip on techniques of inserting a tampon is now presented as an everyday life practice for girls properly instructed by Tampax. The website Personal Matters instructs girls digitally on tampon insertion by a quick-time video (at http://troom.com/topdrawer/insertion.html). On this website, Tampax displays a girl figure, which I call a scary cyborg (as opposed to the benign or liberating one discussed in the conclusion), semiotically transformed into a partial, resistance to normative constructions of femininity parallels Rubin's (1984) elaborations on resisting a culturally stereotyped and heterosexual "grammar of eroticism" which I described more in chapter one. 107 abstracted graphic image of a female body. We see her only through and in a small frame reducing our view to her reproductive organs and digestive channels and showing her from the navel to mid thigh as transparent. The female body is abstracted, dissected and reduced to a holding tank for properly inserted tampons. This abstracted gaze through small square windows effaces the girl's identity. She could be anybody anywhere. The blue background is the field of reference that leaves open the space for fantasies of where on she may be. The fragment of this figure functions as a normative digitally-mediated map for any girl to perform the technique of inserting a tampon. The quick-time video is preceded by a six-step program of meticulously described tampon insertion and ultimately, offers us an animated show of this procedure, or as Tampax promises us, of "the right way" in. In clicking on the play button, we see this fragmented girl figure and a right hand holding the tampon applicator at an upward angle moving closer to the vagina while a left hand is "[spreading] the folds of skin around the vaginal opening" (http://TRoom.com/topdrawer/insertion.html). We cannot see whether these are her hands or somebody else's. However, in the context of auto-application of the Tampax, we are supposed to think that they are her hands. A s the tampon applicator reaches the opening of the vagina, the reproductive organs and lower channels of bodily excretions become visible while her body is made transparent. The bodily boundaries of inside and outside begin to blur when reproductive and excremental functions are highlighted as the interpretive context to control her body with a tampon. A s the outer tube of the tampon applicator is inserted fully in the inside of the vagina, the inner tube is pushed completely 8 0 Blue is the colour of the Tampax Satin box which, as I will describe later, can be associated with blue satin bed sheets described above. 108 through the inside of the outer tube which pushes the tampon out of the applicator and into the vagina. During the act of penetration, the scary cyborg remains a mechanical girl body. L ike watching through a window that only gives us a partial view, we see a fragment of the female sexual figure, excluding the clitoris as a signifier for female pleasure and hair as a signifier for the playful and wi ld body of sexuality. With instructions on entering a girl's body through the vagina, Tampax mimicks vaginal penetration while the transparency of the reproductive system serves as a reminder of the heterosexual context of feminine protection. Tampax's texts in the TRoom are metaphorical instructions for heterosexual practices. Dear Iris81, I got my period a while ago and now I want to use tampons, but every time I try to put one in it feels so tight that I have to pull it out right away. My flow is heavy so I can't use juniors or anything. What can I do? Also, can you lose your virginity by using a tampon?? Thanks, Kait Dear Kait, Did you read the instructions in www.TRoom.com/topdrawer/insertion.html? This really will help with your insertion. But if you are doing it all right and still can not insert a tampon, it may be that your hymen, the thin membrane that partially covers and protects the opening to your vagina, may be too small or too tight to allow the tampon in. A virgin is someone who has not had sexual intercourse, and it is not related to tampon use. Your hymen may be torn or stretched when you were a small child by bike riding, sliding down the banister, gymnastics etc. If it is still intact now, you may break or stretch the hymen (because it is too small or too tight) to allow the tampon in. [Elsewhere, Iris suggested: "This is done a little every time you try inserting a tampon and can be done by your doctor as well. You can also achieve this stretching with your finger by pushing on the hymen."] This should not be a traumatic situation...and does not reflect on your virginity. For many girls the tampon just enters the vagina through the same opening the menstrual blood leaves your vagina. Good luck-Iris In trying to deflect from heterosexual practices, Tampax downplays the issue of vaginal penetration while at the same time giving instructions on deflowering a girl (while 109 denying that this is so). B y suggesting that "a virgin is someone who has not had sexual intercourse," Tampax normalizes a heterosexual and phallogocentric context for girls and presents a vision of respectability of girls through feminine protection in contradistinction to the vision of a promiscuous girl who should be embarrassed and traumatized by her wayward ways. However, while "stretching the hymen" can be thought of as a preparation for (penile) penetration, which also "should not be a traumatic situation" when done "the right way," it can also be read as open permission to sexual self-discovery and masturbation. The encouragement to use "your finger" may lead to the imagery of the girl figure practicing insertion outside a heterosexual context by opening up auto-erotic spaces for herself. In this case, the metaphor of the tampon gains liberating qualities through a notion of control over the self. The isolation of the abstracted and fragmented vision of a girl's abdomen and two hands on the Internet can contribute to opening interpretive spaces of vision and discourse. In the absence of heterosexual representation, this fragmentation is not necessarily disadvantageous for the configuration of life, because fragmentation also brings about an opportunity, i f not the necessity, for reconfiguration. A homoerotic, as suggested earlier, or a transsexual reading of TRoom 8 1 The following lines are taken from "Ask Iris" in Body matters at http:/foodymatters.corn/ask/ask47.html and http://bodymatters.com/ask/ask46.html and "Answer Girl" at http://troom.com/answergirl/answergirl.html 8 2 Keeping in mind that Internet technologies disrupt assumptions about the identities of both writers and readers of Tampax texts, we can speculate about the new reconfigurations. Consider, for example the figure of Ludovic in the movie "Ma Vie En Rose" (Alain Berliner, 1997, Sony Pictures Classics). "Ma Vie en Rose" follows a young boy who definitely knows that he wants to be a girl. The most significant proof of performing femininity and being a real girl, so Ludovic is told, is having a period. For Ludovic, the TRoom would be a site where he could learn and share knowledge about menstruation. He could identify with being not one of the "many girls [for whom] the tampon just enters the vagina through the same opening the menstrual blood leaves your vagina." He could embody a female/ feminine technosubjectivity and be the girl he would like to be in the TRoom. However, while Ludovic thinks of herself/ himself as a girl and thus disrupts assumptions about the "natural" congruence of femininity and femaleness, he nevertheless wants to embody heterofeminine texts. 110 texts encouraged by this high degree of bodily abstractions and the lack o f explicitly heterosexual context 8 3 makes space for thinking different sexual practices, and thus challenges a heteronormative script. When Haraway (1991:150) calls for "pleasure in the confusion of boundaries and for responsibility in their reconstruction", she sees digital technology as an integral part of both real and fictitious social relations and selves. Leaky boundaries between physical and communicative bodies, between bodies and tools, between the physical and non-physical, suggest a new era of a body politic that rewrites bodies. A s I have suggested through my analysis of Tampax body politic, plugging into the corporate economy opens both possibilities for freedom and confinement for sexual and gendered bodies. However, in the TRoom, which I take as Tampax's primary frame of politics, I still see scary digital girl texts prevailing. The figurations emerging out of the complex textual network of the TRoom, are all embodiments of feminine protection and thus, of sanitary technology. Ultimately, there needs to be a girl incorporated with the tampon as the tool of corporate body politics. A mechanized, passive body performing the act of insertion by the push of the play button embodies this corporate technology. Abstracted computer texts represent a scary cyborg girl performing the mechanics of inserting a tampon in a bodily orifice whereby the functions of forward, play back and pause buttons facilitate an endless repetition of the act of insertion at greater speed or in slow motion. The distinction between the human and mechanical becomes unreliable in the digital text (Stone, 8 3 Laud Humphreys' (1987) article on "A Typology of Tearoom Participants" inspires thinking of male identities that can relate to the TRoom. The matching phonetics of TRoom and Tearoom lead to a speculation that disrupts a heteronormative context to read the TRoom as a Tearoom, "as these facilities are 111 1991:105). The image we are left with shows the girl's body reconfigured through a digital and mechanical act of embodying a tampon. Clicking in and clicking out o f hypertexts shares the semiotic template of entering and exiting hyperphysical bodies. Yet, at the end of the video, the tampon appears as an implant in a girl's body. G i r l figure and tampon constitute one another. In this figuration of a girl cyborg, that is, "a hybrid of technology and body" (Haraway, 1991:149), the bodily structure is blurred by technomorphism and the bodily history is written with no-body there. In such a figure of femininity, traces of the biotext are erased by the sociotext (O'Nei l l , 1985:157) when a girl's texts can be changed at w i l l through digital technology. She then is defined by her dependence on market control. Thus, thinking the body through the corporeal bond between the embodied individual and the tampon point to the everyday body politic and its textual forces at work behind appearances. Stated differently, as the problem of the King's two bodies in 'Camillagate' also shows, girl bodies are needed as subjects to embody and incorporate Tampax's body politic. Thinking the body politic through physical bodies also facilitates a historical understanding of selves. Although new "seeable" and "thinkable" spaces are opened up, scary new networks also attempt to reshape a flow o f life. Tina, a corporate figure, represents girls escaping their embodied representation and thereby opens up spaces for the imaginary. But her gaze from nowhere claims the power to see and to know while she herself is not to be seen and not to be known (Haraway, 1991:188). B y "keeping us in touch with the world viewed from America" (O'Neil l , 1985:156), and from the global gaze o f Procter & Gamble in particular, we are asked to forget that one's positioning in called in the language of the homosexual subculture, [that] have several characteristics that make them attractive as locales for sexual encounters without involvement..." (Humphreys, ibid.:260). 112 time and space matters. A n enticing promise to "be yourself is offered at the price o f forgetting the incorporation of Tampax's texts of feminine protection. Tampax tampons emerge as a regulatory technology in a seductive attempt to reimagine a girl's body. Indeed, leaky boundaries of space, time, and body open up spaces to think the body that corporate powers attempt to plug up. 113 CONCLUSION The Tampax TRoom is a digital space that plays on girls' delusion that place and time can be suspended when they embody texts of feminine protection. Logging on this Tampax hyperlink, visitors are invited into an intimate world of hyperphysical girls interfacing with sanitary and digital technology. There is the virtual persona Tina, who is neither aging nor has a physical address. It does not matter where she lives, for her digital white, middle-class girl TRoom can exist anywhere 8 4 in its function to appeal to other gi r ls 8 5 . She functions as a believable or thinkable script of a girl . Another layer of her could be the mechanized and fragmented girl body in the quick-time video, this fragmented and abstracted system of reproduction that repetitively performs the act of inserting the tampon when activated by the click of a mouse. This act may be modified at w i l l by the same corporate technology that also makes her possible. Tampax remains the overseer of this mechanisation and this clean performance. Through Tampax digital technology of representation, the wi ld and smelly body is rewritten whereby a scary cyborg that functions as a truncated system emerges instead. When we gaze onto this screen and enter into symbolic spaces of girls' lives, we encounter a particular grammar of girlhood that is mapped onto female genitals and reproductive organs. The later come to function as a semiotic mold to hold the intimate embodiment of Tampax's technology of feminine protection. A s I have suggested, TRoom's digital environment parallels the seductive format of the webcam industry as a 8 4 In her December 1999 diary entry, Tina tells us that she and her parents moved, but that she was able to set up the TRoom exactly the way it had been before. 8 5 A myth is created that this website could appeal to all girls. However, we cannot be sure anymore who and where these "girls" could be. Internet technology facilitates a disruption of essentialist notions of corpo-reality. 114 way to gain a view into all aspects of what it is like to be a girl . Textually mediated girls invite us into their intimate spaces and their hyperphysical bodies perform intimate everyday life acts. These figures are textual mediations of girl identities functioning as 'desirable' scripts for girlhood anywhere, anytime. The intimate connection between girl and protective tool is textually established and thereby comes to represent the close combination of girl functions and a discourse of feminine protection. The girl figures that emerge from such close union also highlight the possibilities of entering unprecedented levels of information of intimate textual spaces of social relations and selves. The TRoom is only one example of accessing previously tabooed fields through Internet technologies. The stories told within the digital frame provided by Tampax represent close-up images of what it is like to be a girl. Narratives of embarrassing moments that could happen to anyone, and in particular to any girl, create the generalized panic that girls need to be in need of feminine protection. Only a Tampax hyperlink away, girls are supplied with real life solutions at the intersection of control and communication. These solutions include normative strategies such as inscribing 'civilizing' bodily techniques in the form of using tampons, proliferating a corporate discourse of feminine protection, and bringing about a sanitary gaze that, joined together, works to control and regulate the wi ld and unruly girl body. Digital technologies of interaction bring about new powerful possibilities to reshape subjectivities, i f not bodies. The unceasing opportunity to open up, venture into, and exit girls' spaces represents girls in greater intimate connection with digital technologies of feminine protection while sharing a semiotic template of entering and exiting hyperphysical bodies. A n y girl, no matter where or who she is, is called to 115 voluntarily embody Tampax' digital texts. Textually mediated physicality is reshaped by these computer texts that suggest another step in the shift of history as biotext to history as sociotext whereby another level o f sophisticated abstraction and fragmentation is reached. A s I suggested in my non-normative reading at the end of Chapter two, this technomorphism facilitates greater abstractions from subjectivities which contain certain liberating possibilities to think bodies. In this context, sex, gender, class, race, age, and other dimensions of subjectivity are not necessarily stable and fixed entities written on a one anatomical body anymore. Through symbolic exchange in technoreal space, the 'nature' o f bodies is written in digital codes, and thus gains momentum for reconfiguration through digital play and manipulation. In this "new economy of visual [and symbolic] surfaces" (Braidotti, 1994:50), the body becomes a matter of high-tech imagery with no-body there. These abstractions and fragmentations of selves bring about the need for reconstruction and thus, also usher in the possibilities of interpreting realities in different, fantastic ways. However, although these are fantasy figures in a fantasy space, they nevertheless produce and reproduce everyday realities and ideals for girls. Abstracted images of TRoom girls, conveyed as both intimate texts and advertisements, illustrate the superimposition of technomorphous characters onto human life. Tampax's texts of feminine protection have, from their first tampon advertisement in 1936, reshaped an image of womanhood and girlhood to adapt the female body to industrial capitalism. A new, "liberating" discursive formation of women and girls 8 6 An etymological look at the word 'computer' reveals that in the 17th century, the computer was 'a person who computes'; later (1897) it was 'a mechanical calculating machine'; and after 1946 or perhaps 1941, it became an electronic machine. The history of the human being who 'counts or considers together' became a history of the electronic machine (The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology, 1988). 116 emerged that supplanted older forms of feminine protection. Cyborgs of feminine protection were born: this is the hybrid of the girl organism with its function to hold a tampon and thus, to internalize a tool to control her leaking, smelling, staining body. The embodiment of technologies of feminine protection reformulates a new unity o f a gendered body with the tampon as a tool to plug up the leaky boundaries of girls. Internalizing technology and embodying digital texts blurs the boundaries of body and tool/machine and brings to the fore new figurations to think female bodies. Haraway (1991; 1997) offers the metaphor of the cyborgs as hybrids of machine and organism, which helps me to discuss some of the theoretical options of subject formations in the complex interactions between humans and tools/machines. A cyborg does not stand outside, but is part of complex networks o f scientific and cultural practices. A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction. Social reality is lived social relations, our most important political construction, a world-changing fiction. [....] The cyborg is a matter of fiction and lived experience that changes what counts as women's experience in the late twentieth century (Haraway, 1991:149). Cyborg figures are constituted and constitute themselves at the intersection of lived experience and fantasy. With this, Haraway emphasizes that a cyborg is not just a fiction, but also a reality. Textual abstractions of social relations and selves at a physical distance through the Internet encourage a discursive shift that positions and repositions girls in both normative and alternative scripts of femininity, whereby fantasy and everyday reality are integral parts of thinking bodies through texts of feminine protection. In the TRoom, that is, in Tampax's primary interpretive frame of feminine protection, the tampon emerges as an erotic tool or substitute for penis-vagina penetration. Closely linked to a discourse of sexuality and reproduction, Tampax plays pervasively on these 117 allusions to hetero-sexual practices. The dynamics between reality and fiction have both disruptive and constructive qualities. In the spaces of technomorphous abstraction, normative desire and sexual relationships can be disrupted while readings and writings of fiction can create new realities. Reading outside the primary interpretive frame of feminine protection that Tampax provides, or stated differently, reading against the grain, can involve a discursive shift that repositions subjects in new ways so that, for example, a girl may think her body through acts of erotic procuration, polyamory, or plays of silicon (as suggested in my counter-reading of the Tampax advertisement "Modern Woman Seeks"). Reading in such a way suggests rewriting hetero-feminine teen talk or scripts. I think teenagers have great capacities for thinking erotic, sexual, and gender ambiguities and in rebelling against normative texts of feminine protection. Houppert (1999:203) found girls' resistance and anger against such hetero-feminine normativity and writes: Girls were commenting on - and rejecting - the conventional pabulum about dating and sex: 'I can't really believe the advice given in the reflections section. It is pretty bad. I just read 3 reasons why you shouldn't make the first move. It made me cringe...' [...] Some girls found everything about Tina, this tired, trumped-up version of femininity they were being fed, infuriating. 'I wish someone knew how to make a bomb disguised as a tampon so I could sneak into this girl's bathroom, switch her tampons, and then watch from the outside as she explodes, sending her "pre-teen reproductive system" all over the fucking place.' A s further research, it would be worthwhile to further explore "teen-talk" on thinking bodies through digital texts of feminine protection outside the frame of adultist, corporate discourse. However, I am also highly skeptical of the development of non-normative selves that can be developped through Tampax texts. Other websites encourage a more open exploration of thinking teenage subject formations. Examples are Cybergrrls at http://www.cybergrrl.com/netscape.htm, a hyperspace with various links aimed at the 118 liberating transformations of women's lives through technology; OutproucF at http://www.outproud.org, a hyperplace for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered youth; and Mary Bryson's hyperlinks from the home page Gen Tech at http://www.shecan.com, hypertexts on Gender, Equity Issues, and N e w Information Technologies. The latter offers a good number of Hotlinks including http://www.siecus.org that provides us with the hyperlink at http://www.teenadvice.org where teens can talk about issues of menstruation, (queer) sexuality, and other everyday life questions and experiences. Further research o f websites that address issues of queer, questioning teenage bodies outside normative scripts of sexuality, gender, race, and class would explore how teenagers draw different maps of social relations and selves through digital space. Thinking social relations and selves through fantastic and real dimensions is part of the I-way, which, as I suggested in Chapter one, facilitates making individualized connections, but also weaving collectivized connections. Teenagers can surf the web and seek queer sites that help them to try out different identities, to find a space of belonging, or to talk about what otherwise may not be easily talked about. However, while Internet technologies give human beings greater freedom of expression, connection and reformulation, it is important to keep in mind that technosubjectovities are also 8 / The significance for teenagers to have social spaces to talk about themselves outside heteronormative texts can be seen in the following summary of Outproud's research findings. In the !OutProud!/Oasis Internet Survey of Queer and Questioning Youth (an online project conducted by !OutProud! (1998) which ran from August 15 through October 31, 1997 and attracted responses from almost two thousand people between the age of ten and twenty-five) more than half the respondents between the age of ten to twenty-five indicated that they came out on the Internet before they did in "real life" and that being "out" online has been crucial to accepting their sexualities. However, only about twenty percent of the respondents identified as female. 1 1 9 reconstructed by state and market control. Tampax Incorporated rewrites bodies by creating a nation of protected girls while at the same time promising them individuality and freedom to be one self. The strings that come attached with Tampax texts of feminine protection provide few opportunities for rethinking the confining, normative, and reproductive scripts of hetero-feminine girlhood. While my alternative readings open up different interpretive frames, they are, perhaps, strained attempts from a teenage point of view. A s the term feminine protection already suggests and my textual analysis of the TRoom shows, Tampax corporate economy writes a powerful body politic that constructs girls along a regulative and (hetero)normative script of sex and gender in an attempt to preserve a political economy of girls. Tampax corporate constructions of thinkable scripts invite girls to internalize the textually mediated realities of their bodies as feminine, reproductive, heterosexual, consuming, and desirous of white, middle-class everyday life. Even though digital texts are complex and sophisticated abstractions, they are another development in the history of technologies of self that, when embodied, induce change for individual girls as well as for a population of girls. From early modernity on, the body has been translated into a problem of gendered and heterosexual normalcy. Tampax has endorsed this problem in their discourse o f feminine protection and employed it for their corporate construction of girlhood. Now, digital technologies of subject formation promise a more powerful and more deceptive inscription. Embodiments of technosubjectivity through digital technology and sanitary technology make for a fantastic, yet still normative dimension of girlhood. A s i f the 8 8 With the acquisition of Tambrands, P&G also makes use of a sanitary technology to rewrite its own history. P&G's credibility in the sanitary protection field suffered significantly when its high-absorbent Rely tampon, made of superthirsty synthetics such as carboxymethylcellulose and polyester, was associated 120 bodily surface could be hyper-realistically "reduced to a pure surface, [to] a movable theatre of the s e l f (Braidotti, 1994:50), a new economy of visual surfaces appears in lieu of the 'real' body. Market forces behind this new economy, such as Tampax, attempt to implant their texts into the everyday life of girls' systems. A s Stone (1991) reminds us, "even in the age of the techno-social subject, life is lived through bodies." This takes us back to the embodiment of texts, and thus to thinking a corporeality of girls that emphasizes the realities of reconfiguring cyborgs as bodies-in-connection with texts in a larger socio-historical process. A s part of larger societal and historical processes in the modern period, the incorporation of a technology of feminine protection aims to reimagine the 'nature' o f girls. In what can be seen as part of a history as biotext, that is, o f the processes of giving history and society a human shape, 'civilizing' bodily habits and discursive reconstructions have reshaped an understanding of the 'nature' o f girls by calling them to internalize texts of feminine protection. Tampax texts, first print, then electronic, and since 1997, digital (the latter I have described in more detail), construct girls with an ambivalence in freedom, that is, as being "free," "your self," and "in control" through feminine protection. Unconscious of the tampon, even of their period itself, girls have been said to be free to carry on any activities without confinement, even "the utmost strenuous sports." In other words, girl bodies can be adapted to any environment through new sanitary technology. 8 9 Historical developments in the body politic have reduced the with Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). In 1980, P&G's Rely tampon was linked to the tampon-related deaths of thirty-eight women (Houppert, 1999:29ff). 8 9 This provides us with an image of the Cyborg of Clynes and Kline (1960:27) who write: "This [self-regulating man-machine system] must function without the benefit of consciousness in order to cooperate with the body's own autonomous homeostatic controls. For the exogenously extended organizational complex functioning as an integrated homeostatic system unconsciously, we propose the term 'Cyborg'. The Cyborg deliberately incorporates exogenous components extending the self-regulating control function 121 girl body to its reproductive and sexual functions which subsequently became systems to be managed through normative and regulatory scripts of femininity. The regulatory adaptation of female bodies to a political economy of hetero-femininity is the price for girls to pay for this new freedom of being "more easily yourself (as Tampax suggests at http://www.bodymatters.com). A s i f the internalization of a sanitary technology had only liberating qualities, Tampax deflected from its confining dimension of subjection. A n illusion of reimagining the wild, natural body was sold in exchange for another reduction of the girl as a consumer body who buys tampons, pads, and lubricators to 'be more easily herself in this political economy of girls. The embodiment of this technology of self includes, as my textual analysis describes, a complex field of inscription of the body. The reformulations of cyborgs which can or should emerge in the current state of complex interactions between humans and tools/machines need to address the threads of a historical and material network of power. Stone suggests (1995:36): I see these identities [that emerge from these interactions] engaged in a wonderful and awesome struggle, straining to make meaning and to make sense out of the very idea of culture as they know it, swimming for their lives in the powerful currents of high technology, power structures, and market forces beyond their imagination. In this struggle I find certain older structures stubbornly trying to reassert themselves in a techno-social milieu that to them seems to have gone berserk. These are the structures of individual caring, love, and perhaps most poignant, of desire. A human being reformulated and unified through the circuits o f symbolic exchange must consider the potentials and possibilities of refined and expanded mechanisms of control and discipline, and of reinscribed desire. of the organism in order to adapt it to new environments." The technical density of the Cyborg definition points to its use in space travel, where cybernetic control and "the possibility of altering the system [of the human body] by the Cyborg technique" (ibid.:75) are of special interest. Haraway's cyborgs are oppositional cyborgs. A discussion of the various definitions of cyborgs make for an interesting history of cybernetic organisms and of reimagining the boundaries of the human body. 122 Rethinking the body and with it 'certain older structures', however, is also a complex field and takes us back to an embodied historical understanding of the processes that rewrite nature. A s I suggested earlier, rethinking our social relations and selves through the libidinal, gendered, and productive body as theoretical abstractions on the levels of desire, kinship and economy can help us to think beyond a reduction of the girl body to economic profit, to a reproductive system, or to hetero-feminine desire. When we expose Procter & Gamble's aim to inscribe a political economy of hetero-femininity onto girls, we rethink the mobility of corporate power and thus, hopefully, resist and oppose reductionist and regulatory inscriptions. Such thinking also facilitates the recognition of the endorsement of sexualized readings of tampons into the regime of sexuality as a regulatory force. Expanding a liberating body politic beyond a normative discourse of sexuality includes not just a resurrection of pleasures, but also the desire o f freedom from economic exploitation and confining codes of gender inscription. Here, we may think of the figures of Haraway's cyborgs as being inside the machine, negotiating their ways through system constraints, and developing "at least as much skil l with bodies and language, with mediations of vision, as the 'highest' techno-scientific visualizations" (ibid.: 191-212). 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