This paper presents a psychoanalytic-autoethnography of embodied masculinity. It examines the sport of competitive natural bodybuilding as a means to pursue relevant ontological questions as part of a wider philosophical project. The embodied narrative addresses three overlapping themes: an examination of the discourses defining a crisis of masculinity relating to an evolving body project; an analysis of the subject’s ambivalence towards the spoken ideal of ‘physical culture’ while imagining other forms of desire and risk taking practices; an analytic autoethnographic account of a competitive body experiencing temporal feelings of ‘loss’, reflecting on fragmentary experiences connected to socially conditioned roles. Enframed by psychoanalytic theory, the analysis draws inspiration from the work of Lacan and supporting cast of Butler, Kristeva and Agamben.
This article presents an ethnographic critique of the corporeal experiences of women as self-proclaimed natural bodybuilders. Drawing on detailed ethnographic work and interviews with 10 female naturals, a bricolage of multiply gendered identities and affiliations is produced. The analysis questions how in working to a “natural ethic,” while desiring a “deviant aesthetic,” the female bodybuilder is paradoxically repressed by a “natural gendered order.” The narrative draws reflexively on psychoanalytic theory and transgendered perspectives, to examine the cultural concept: natural as a “queer” and “uncanny” paradox in which gender and identity are made and simultaneously dislocated.
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