Changing How the World Thinks

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Owning Your Body

Have we badly misunderstood the value of the body?

Mark of the Beast

Have we radically misunderstood the value of the body? In this issue of IAI News, we interrogate the significance of the human body from a host of different perspectives: feminism, neuroscience, technology and politics.

Professor of neuro-imaging Gina Rippon and feminist activist Finn Mackay both argue that the binary opposition between men and women is cultural, not natural. Mackay outlines the need to move beyond such dualisms to “recognise the unique potential of all human beings”. Similarly, Rippon believes that much modern research is still based on sexist assumptions. It’s time, she says, to rid science of toxic stereotypes.

Meanwhile, four very different thinkers explore what it means to “own your body” today. LSE sociologist Catherine Hakim probes the commercialisation of appearance in online dating; pro-choice advocate Ann Furedi argues that current abortion law threatens women’s sovereignty over their own bodies; John Sauven of Greenpeace cites Gandhi to show how the body can become an effective tool of non-violent protest; and anthropologist Daniel Everett argues that identity is a product not just of the brain or culture, but of our physical bodies too.

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