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by Frederica Mathewes-Green


The Subject Was Noses

Posthuman Bodies
Edited by Judith Halberstam and Ira Livingston
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275 pp.; $35

Technologies of the Gendered Body: Reading Cyborg Women
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Duke University Press
219 pp.; $49.95, hardcover; $17.95, paper

Troubled Bodies: Critical Perspectives on Ppostmodernism, Medical Ethics, and the Body
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One night after dinner, while Gary and the boys and I were still sitting around the kitchen table, Megan called from college. After the phone had been passed around and everyone had done some chatting, it came back to me. Megan hesitated, then said:

"Mom, I have something to tell you, and you're going to be mad."

"Okay," I replied, prepared, after nearly 19 years, for anything. "Go ahead."

"I had my nose pierced," she said in a small voice.

"You had your nose pierced," I repeated, evenly.

Across the table I could see Gary's face, always ruddy, rise up in flames.

"She what? She what?" he demanded. It wasn't that he hadn't heard me.

"I just want to keep it in a few months," Megan was hastening to add. "The guy at the shop who put it in said I have up to a year, and it will still heal up. It didn't hurt or anything. It was only $14. I'm taking real good care of it. I just want to wear it for a while."

"Uh-huh," I said, noncommittally. Across the table, Gary was laying down the law.

"She's not coming into the house with that thing in. She can't come home with that. I won't allow it. You tell her she can't come in the house like that."

Despite his I'm-the-dad-here voice, there was a measure of uncertainty in his expression. Gary is quick with an ultimatum, then quick to wonder if he made the right decision, and an episode like this precedes several roller-coaster days for him. There's a reason why Megan chose to tell me first.

"Honey, you know I'm disappointed," I said. "You know that most of the time I let you kids make your own decisions about how you look, but I think ...

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