The Law Student -or- A Woman's Body and the Problem of the Law
Yvonne, 22 Law Student
I frequently have dreams of being in the bed, sofa or area that I am in reality sleeping in. These dreams occur almost every night and include my body being dragged out of bed, sometimes by my hair, throat, legs or arms. The dreams would be tolerable if it were not for a strange cold pain that I experience along with it. It is this pain, along with the sense of evil I can feel in the dream that makes it crucial for me to wake up immediately.
Mr Hagen's Response: The Body Politic of Women's Bodies, Women's Dreams
Your dream is very insightful in terms of understanding the psychodynamics of jurisprudence. You seem to be learning about the nature of the law as it relates to women's bodies and women's dreams. Carol Smart "Feminism and the Power of the Law" tells us that the law is "deeply interested in things corporeal". Smart provides a graphic account of how criminal law of rape is concerned about "exact degrees of penile penetration, whether ejaculation took place, which bodily orifices were penetrated and to what effect". "The civil law on marriage is interested in whether marital intercourse takes place, and whether the child of a woman is also the child of her husband. Violent crimes are categorized by the degree of harm caused to bodies, and bits of bodies-from semen to hair-constitute the very basis of forensic evidence in criminal trials."
For Smart feminist work "challenges the traditional understanding of bodies (and the natural)...." "It becomes necessary therefore to consider how law treats bits of women's bodies and, in consequence, the totality of the female body." Smart discusses such harmful problems of rape, sexual abuse, prostitution and pornography. The International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR) has investigated these problems from an oneirological (study of dreaming) perspective. Thus many dreams and their interpretations such as those below, discuss the same problems Smart reviews from a legal perspective:
- "Rape -or- The Victims of Misogyny"
- "Pedophilia -or- Calling the RCMP"
- "The Holy Prostitute"
- "Confessions of a Porn Addict"
Especially in her chapter on "The Problem of Pornography", Smart believes that; "Denying that law is the solution to pornography, is not to deny that pornography is a problem." Smart also realizes that; "It may be that representations in advertising, in soap operas, and in romantic novels carry a much more pervasive influence." What Smart is addressing without saying it concisely, is the power of media to influence the marketplace of thought and ideas about women and men. The psychological effects of all forms of media on visual culture and in turn women's and men's dreams is irrefutable. The IIDR is dedicated to make these McLuhanesque effects on dreams visible to all those living in the "global village".
The body politic is a primary psychological channel and shapes our nightly dreams. By the completion of 1001 Nights and the Field Notes of a Dream Researcher will provide a synoptic view of the ongoing physical and psychological harm against human rights, harms against minds and bodies, harms to both men and women. All these harms will be made completely visible for you the reader from a dream vision perspective.
Patricia Garfield "Women's Bodies, Women's Dreams"