It is now widely recognized that feminist and queer theories have been negligent or overly dismissive of biological data. This paper asks what has motivated this antibiological orientation: what conceptual and political gains has antibiologism conferred on our theoretical innovations? The author turns to Gayle Rubin's two canonical essays (“The Traffic in Women” and “Thinking Sex”) to explore one route by which biology became the underbelly of feminist and queer theory: how it became both a disreputable mode of explanation and a site of political vulnerability. Of particular interest is how the belly is mobilized in these two essays. Contesting Rubin's claim that the hunger of the belly is immaterial to theories of sexuality and culture, this article argues that the stomach is an important switch point in the relational traffic of biological and social and intersubjective events. In this light, the author considers Kleinian notions of phantasy and biology, especially the effects hunger has on the formation of the mind in the very young infant. Reading with Melanie Klein's literal mindedness, the author suggests that the confluence of physiology and phantasy in Klein's work offers a way to think anew about our critical theories of embodiment.
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Elizabeth A. Wilson; Underbelly. differences 1 May 2010; 21 (1): 194–208. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-2009-027
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