2. Butler interrupting
Even though Pinkola’s story and arguments inspired my creative practice in a tremendous way, the understanding of my wolf as a metaphor for the wild nature of woman opened many questions from a theoretical perspective. The use of terms such as nature, wild, instinct and spirit, in the frame of poststructuralism, requires a critical analysis since they are also historical and socio-cultural constructions. Even more, feminist theories since Simone de Beauvoir (1949) have been very critic of defining woman in terms of nature and biology. The main statement of Beauvoir’s book The Second Sex, is that Woman does not exist as a prior notion but is a matter of becoming. Alongside Beauvoir, many feminist theories, since liberal feminism, base their ideas on the separation of sex from gender. Academic Rosemary Tong presents different perspectives on feminism and the argument that that female subordination is rooted in natural definitions which is the same argument underneath the false belief that “woman are less intellectually and/or physically capable than men” (Tong, 1997, p. 2) which leads to the oppression and exclusion that the feminist movement is fighting.
From a more radical perspective, Judith Butler interrupted the feminist discourse with the idea that not only gender identities are socially constructed, but also the bodily viewable gender division is. “She, therefore, states that there is no such thing as a ‘natural’, ‘biological’ ‘sex’.” (Rose and Ricken, p.61). If gender and sex are constructed categories, to talk about the nature of woman becomes problematic. Butler addresses this problem by saying that “in an understandable desire to forge bonds of solidarity, feminist discourse has often relied upon the category of woman as a universal presupposition of cultural experience which, in its universal status, provides a false ontological promise of eventual political solidarity.” (Butler, 1988, p. 523)
Hence, to keep on working using Pinkola’s knowledge, it is important for me to re-phrase her and to be careful with not falling into essentialist arguments. In this case, that means to maintain the understanding of my characters in references firstly to me like the first relevant context of the research, and also to approach the story understanding that it has a pearl of wisdom constructed by others throughout the years. Pinkola even mentions that she came across the story doing ethnographic work in “the great desert which lies half in Mexico, half in the United States” (Pinkola, 1992, p.39) where she meets a bone woman from the Pueblo people of the Southwest. So, to understand where the story comes from becomes relevant and meaningful.
From this enriched perspective, I understand the wolf-like bodily state I have been developing, as a female creative force. Therefore, my characters Wolfe and Libertad can be defined as different intensities of that same strength. From this, I am able to point out that my artistic and political approach is to locate sources of potency in my own gender construction as a woman.
Then, the figure of the wolf extends and it is more accurate to say that functions as a trope in my artistic outcome. Sometimes as a metaphor of inner strength, sometimes as a personification when the dancer explores the anatomy of the wolf with her own anatomy, sometimes as hyperbole in the sing language trio inspired in the tale La Loba, and even as the rhetorical question that the whole performance presents.