Hickey-Moody - Carbon - SUBMISSION.doc

Hickey-Moody - Carbon - SUBMISSION.doc - Carbon fiber...

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Carbon fiber masculinity: Disability and surfaces of homosociality Carbon fiber, or graphite fiber, is a material made from fibers 5-10 micrometers in width that are comprised of carbon particles (Morgan, 2005). Carbon fiber has great commercial value for its strength, light weight and its capacity to resist heat. Contemporary cultural economies of carbon fiber are, in part, a late capitalist (Jameson, 1991) technology of hegemonic (or dominant) masculinity (Connell, 1995). As a technology of hegemonic masculinity, carbon fiber extends the surfaces of bodies and produces masculinity on and across surfaces, male and female bodies. In this paper I am concerned with instances in which carbon fiber extends performances of masculinity that are attached to particular kinds of hegemonic male bodies. In examining carbon fiber as a prosthetic form of masculinity, I advance three main arguments. Firstly, carbon fiber can be a site of the supersession of disability that is affected through masculinized technology. Disability can be ‘overcome’ through carbon fiber. Disability is often culturally coded as feminine (Pedersen, 2001; Meeuf, 2009; Garland-Thompson 1997). Building on this cultural construction of disability as feminine, in and as a technology of masculine homosociality (Sedgwick, 1985), carbon fiber reproduced disability as feminine when carbon fiber prosthetic lower legs allowed Oscar Pistorius 1 to compete in the non-disabled Olympic games. Secondly, I argue that carbon fiber can be a homosocial surface; that is, carbon fiber becomes both a surface extension of the self and a third party mediator in homosocial relationships, a surface that facilitates intimacy between men in ways that devalue femininity in both male and female bodies. I examine surfaces as material extensions of subjectivity, and carbon fiber surfaces as vectors of the cultural economies of masculine competition to which I refer. Thirdly, the case of Oscar Pistorius is exemplary of the masculinization of carbon fire, and the associated binding of a psychic attitude of misogyny and power to a form of violent and competitive masculine subjectivity. In this article I explore the affects, economies and surfaces of what I call ‘carbon fiber masculinity’ and discusses Pistorius’ use of carbon fiber, homosociality and misogyny as forms of protest masculinity through which he unconsciously attempted to recuperate his gendered identity from emasculating discourses of disability. To produce carbon fiber, carbon atoms are bonded in crystals that are aligned parallel along the axis of the fiber. This crystal alignment gives the fiber high strength-to-volume ratio, making it exceptionally strong for its size and weight. 1
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Carbon fiber masculinity: Disability and surfaces of homosociality Several thousand carbon fibers are brought together to form a carbon fiber tow (or line), which is then woven into a mesh or stiff fabric (Morgan, 2005). This carbon fiber mesh is used to make vehicles and accessories of many kinds, including formula one cars, spaceships, bicycles, rowing boats, oars and racquets. Harder, faster,
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