Carbon fiber masculinity: Disability and surfaces of homosociality

Hickey-Moody, Anna Catherine. 2015. Carbon fiber masculinity: Disability and surfaces of homosociality. Angelaki: Journal of Theoretical Humanities, 20(1), pp. 139-153. ISSN 0969-725X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In this paper I am concerned with instances in which carbon fiber extends performances of masculinity that are attached to particular kinds of hegemonic male bodies. In examining carbon fiber as a prosthetic form of masculinity, I advance three main arguments. Firstly, carbon fiber can be a site of the supersession of disability that is affected through masculinized technology. Disability can be ‘overcome’ through carbon fiber. Disability is often culturally coded as feminine (Pedersen, 2001; Meeuf, 2009; Garland-Thompson 1997). Building on this cultural construction of disability as feminine, in and as a technology of masculine homosociality (Sedgwick, 1985), carbon fiber reproduced disability as feminine when carbon fiber prosthetic lower legs allowed Oscar Pistorius to compete in the non-disabled Olympic games. Secondly, I argue that carbon fiber can be a homosocial surface; that is, carbon fiber becomes both a surface extension of the self and a third party mediator in homosocial relationships, a surface that facilitates intimacy between men in ways that devalue femininity in both male and female bodies. I examine surfaces as material extensions of subjectivity, and carbon fiber surfaces as vectors of the cultural economies of masculine competition to which I refer. Thirdly, the case of Oscar Pistorius is exemplary of the masculinization of carbon fire, and the associated binding of a psychic attitude of misogyny and power to a form of violent and competitive masculine subjectivity. In this article I explore the affects, economies and surfaces of what I call ‘carbon fiber masculinity’ and discusses Pistorius’ use of carbon fiber, homosociality and misogyny as forms of protest masculinity through which he unconsciously attempted to recuperate his gendered identity from emasculating discourses of disability.

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Carbon fibre, surfaces, masculinity, disability

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


16 March 2015Published Online

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Date Deposited:

16 Jan 2015 11:42

Last Modified:

15 Jan 2018 12:34

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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