body poetics: part 7 – rebelikaˣ /// on r e a p p r o p r i a t i n g

Poem by Gertrude Stein

pamela varela

My body is my territory, and it was conquered, just like the Americas. Several parts of the human body are named after white, European men: Fallopian tubes1, G-spot2, Bartholin’s glands3, Skene glands4, to name a few. All the body parts mentioned above belong to the female reproductive system. It is common in Western medicine to appropriate the body as if it was a piece of land and name it after the man who discovered it, which is already paradoxical because colonialism is a project unworthy of emulation. In language, there is change. By, for example, using the term uterine tubes instead of Fallopian tubes, we are using linguistic means to end these appropriations.

Diana J. Torres, a.k.a. Pornoterrorista, is an activist who wrote an explosively angry book about medical science as one of the principal enemies of the bodies and sexuality of women. Her text ranges from cursing about the men who colonized the body, to educating her readers about the history, biology, and pleasurable potential of cunt ejaculation, a widely ignored aspect of sexuality. She demonstrates how multiple studies have come to conclude the “G-Spot” is the female prostate, but mainstream medicine is still reluctant to officially accept it. One of her arguments is that the medical establishment does not want to accept that male and female bodies are more similar than we think; another fallacy is that since it is not a “necessary” organ for reproduction5, as the clitoris, the “G-spot” (female prostate) has not been researched enough. This has derived into collective confusion over very wet beds. 

We have lost centuries of pleasure, orgasms, autonomous desire, and we carry that within our cellular memory, that of our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and so on, for generations and generations.

“Coño Potens”, 
Diana J. Torres a.k.a. Pornoterrorista6

She reminds us how these projects to deprive women of their bodily autonomy are linked to capitalism, an exploitative social structure where “our bodies are the fields where these bastards plant the biggest factory of capital production”.7 Since the agricultural revolution, our body has adopted the capacities to fulfill the market’s necessities, which in the case of people with uteruses is the workforce production. 

Culture has changed and progressed so rapidly that it has not allowed the body to evolve on time. We have been disconnected from the environment that helped us grow, only to replace our habits to the serving of the system. We live in bodies that are still made for the demands of hunter-gatherers, which helps explain why we are abnormally exhausted, sick, and mentally ill. “Capitalism was born from the separation of people from the land, and its first task was to make work independent of the seasons and to lengthen the workday beyond the limits of our endurance.”8 Silvia Federici encourages us to reappropriate the body, to understand its transformative capacities, to resist, and to celebrate. 

Dance is central to this reappropriation […] for dance mimics the processes by which we relate to the world, connect with other bodies, transform ourselves and the space around us. […] Our bodies have reasons that we need to learn, rediscover, reinvent. We need to listen to their language as the path to our health and healing, as we need to listen to the language and rhythms of the natural world as the path to the health and healing of the earth.

“In Praise of the Dancing Body – Beyond the Periphery of the Skin”, 
Silvia Federici9

As my dance coach Fazle Shairmahomed always remarks: our bodies have also been colonized, just like territories. As a Dutch Surinamese-Hindustani Muslim queer person,10 he/she/they often refers to problems concerned with the politicization of his body. They point out how everything is built by someone else, and therefore, controls our movement in space. When we climb the stairs, these shape our bodies; they change it, and this is something we do not decide. Her way of reappropriating these psychological and physical spaces is through the liberation of the body, through dance. In the form of decolonizing rituals, he works with trance states to connect with his ancestors. Fazle and I are going to collaborate to create choreographic elements for the dance component of transcendence – trance ‘n dance. I choose to work with them because in the dance sessions she organizes, we dive into a journey to heal the trauma and pain our ancestors have experienced during colonialism. We explore the connection between the heart as a space of emotions and the hara11 as a source of strength.12

Also inspired by trance states, artist and dancer Michele Rizzo places his work in the context of club culture, a space of community building and radical self-expression.13 He refers to the ideas of Julia Kristeva, a feminist philosopher and semiotician, who studies dance’s close ties to religion and questions its usage when “God is dead […] an event that happened in Europe—and nowhere else—which cut ties with religious tradition.”14 Dance has been seen in diverse cultures as a way of achieving transcendence, a fact Michele Rizzo compares to the contemporary rave culture, where individuals go to the club to be with their community, similarly to people who go to church. He also highlights the transformative power of techno music and its capacity to induce a state of trance.15

Dance is where I experience out-of-body sensations. It can make me feel grounded in the body but gone in the mind—the balance between immanence and transcendence. The experience of being human can be enhanced by learning to connect through/with unseen forces, while remaining grounded in the body and resisting in the present. I would like to research the possibilities of exploring the body as an archive and as the medium of dance, to (re)connect with the multiverse forces, to learn from each other, and to reappropriate.  

Bodies know things. Bodies are information systems that hold transgenerational memories.

Rosi Braidotti16

As an artivist, dancer, and technician, I feel the responsibility to use the arts to reclaim the body, work towards mindful expansion, generate consideration towards our surroundings, and transform our suffering, and that of our allies and ancestors, to bring change to the future, by learning from the past and through revolting in the present. I am a rebel who will reappropriate her body through expressive means, from creation, to speech, to movement, to pleasure, to in-corporeality, I will “reconquer” my body, win mySelf back, reseduce my body: reconquistar mi cuerpa.17

1 After Gabriele Falloppio, Italian priest and anatomist.
2 After Ernst Gräfenberg, German physician and scientist.
3 After Caspar Bartholin the Younger, Danish anatomist.
4 After Alexander Skene, British gynaecologist.
5 Although, from listening to the stories of her workshop attendants, she has suspicions about the supposed  uselessness of the female prostate and starts to believe it can have something to do with helping conceive and even give birth.
6 Torres, Diana J.. Coño Potens. Txalaparta, 2015, p. 67. Transaltion by me.
7 Ibid., 36.
8 Federici, Silvia. Beyond the Periphery of the Skin: Rethinking, Remaking, and Reclaiming the Body in Contemporary Capitalism. PM Press, 2020, p. 120.
9 Ibid., 123-124.
10 Shairmahomed, Fazle. “ABOUT – Fazle Shairmahomed.” Fazle Shairmahomed, Accessed March 2020.
11 Energetic point above the genitals.
12 “Decolonizing Dance Classes.” Facebook, Accessed November 2020.
13 “Michele Rizzo.” Stedelijk Museum, Accessed March 2020.
14 Caprioli, Cristina. “WEAVING POLITICS | Julia Kristeva on ‘Going beyond the Human and Dance’. Youtube, moderated by Mark Franko, 2012, Accessed March 2020.
15 “Michele Rizzo.” Stedelijk Museum, Accessed March 2020.
16 Kaaitheater. “WOWMEN!20 | Rosi Braidotti on Posthumanism”. Vimeo, conversation with philosopher Laurent De Sutter, 2020, Accessed March 2020.
The word reconquistar in Spanish means “to reconquer/retake”, as well as “to win back” or “reclaim”. But the root conquistar can also refer to performing seduction.