Getting to Know You: the subjectification of Baby Hab.
September 23, 2011 § 8 Comments
Subjectification. It’s a word that Michel Foucault and some hard core theorist buddies of his coined to talk about the process of creating a subject.
If you’re not familiar with my pal Foucault, allow me to help you unpack this little concept (it’s one of the easier ones, not to worry) so that you can chuckle along with me at the cleverness of my subtitle. Yes…this part of the post is just to explain the subtitle. Have I mentioned that I’m writing a dissertation? 😉
A subject in the Foucauldian sense refers to an individual who has an identity, a name, a socially-accepted and -directed Self. This is almost entirely prescribed before the subject has an opportunity to subjectify him- or herself. So, as soon as the moms and dads say, “He shall be called Richard” or “she shall be called Suzy,” poor Richard and Suzy have already become subjects. (Which is mildly better than objects, which get no say.) Subjects do have an opportunity to attempt to break free from their subjectivity by demanding that they are, in fact, agents (with real opinions and desires and needs, dammit!)…but we won’t go into agency at this point. (Just know that agents are the ones who make decisions. Subjects have decisions made for them by the agents with the potential to become agents. Objects are just things, or are people made to exist as things, that we observe and talk about with little regard to that thing’s sense of awareness or sense of existence.)
When we subjectify something, we actually create for it a pre-determined existence. We acknowledge the thing as something that exists, something that participates in some capacity or another within social boundaries (or perhaps even the subject is supposed to participate outside of social boundaries…which is also a boundary). Heidegger might (to my utter frustration) refer to the subjectivity of a subject as “the thingness of the thing.” Don’t worry, friends. I threw his little book across the room when I read that tautological nightmare. That showed him! I obviously much prefer Foucault and his straight-forward writing style (or maybe that’s the diligent work of his English translators…even still…)
So, here we are. Somehow Foucault’s subjectification relates to Baby Hab. How? I’ll tell you:
We have officially made Baby Hab. into a subject! There is a sex and a name and everything! Now, we can stop referring to the little squirmy sensation in my abdomen as “it” or “hey you in there” and have made our little observable object into a real-life subject! (I could make a case for how referring to an object with the second-person pronoun actually already subjectifies it…but I won’t.)
Get ready for it, folks…because I would like to introduce to you
…our society’s newest little subject…
That’s right, folks! Robert and I are expecting a sweet, angelic baby girl! 🙂 (Okay, maybe we’re not expecting a sweet, angelic anything…but she will be female, whatever her personality!)
We went in for the eighteen-week ultrasound the day after my birthday, and we were thrilled to see our precious little girl looking less like a wiggly mushroom or shrimp and more like a human being. She’s about the size of a grapefruit and weighs 10 ounces. (This morning, I called her my little filet. I like that nickname. Mon petit filet!) In fact, because of her size, they changed my due date by three days! I’m actually 19 and a half weeks along (man, that nineteenth week went by fast!), and we’ll expect her on February 13th instead of the 16th.
She looks good and active–she has two arms, two legs, looks to have ten fingers and ten toes (from what we can see on a grainy ultrasound). Her heart just flutters as strongly as anyone could want. She also looks like she inherited a pair of long legs from her Daddy’s side of the family. Currently, she’s traverse, in “hammock pose” (I like to say), which is fine for this stage. One of her favorite exercises (and this has been true since the beginning) is to bring her knees to her chest and suddenly thrust both legs out as far as they can reach. I think that’s the source of the squirming I’ve been feeling. For now, when she’s just a 10-oz. filet lying traverse, we’re good to go. But…when she’s in the head-down position? Those long legs are going to aim right for my ribcage and kidneys! I’m dreading that experience, but I’m a little bit too in love with the idea that she’ll be a dancer or a yoga guru or gymnast or soccer player or basketball player…to worry about some future kidney-kicks. (As the girl who only dreamed for long legs, seeing her daughter with legs that are clearly way longer than her torso is exciting.)
So, here’s to our new little social subject: Melanie Hab.! What a great adventure lies ahead of her.