The Social Body

Romance Language

You may have seen the story about a white couple so disturbed to see a certain kind of body in their neighborhood—what they considered their space—that they challenged his right to be there. And when he wouldn’t answer their demands, they called police, as if his mere presence constituted a crime.

Because the responding officers knew him, he came to no harm, but we know that it could have ended otherwise.

What makes a body’s presence unbearable in such specific ways?

This body’s shape or size. That person’s facial features. The other person’s skin or hair.

People judge which bodies fit the gender designation they’ve been assigned. People moralize about which bodies should be allowed to interact with which, and in what ways.

People note and judge how, and how easily, a body moves through space, aided or unaided.

They create social rules about which bodies belong where; which bodies…

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