RDG Conference Report of Elinor May K. Cruz

Write up about the Conference

The conference is the first among the planned biannual Talking Bodies conference on identity, sexuality, and the representation. This year’s conference was organized by Dr. Emma Rees of the Department of English, University of Chester, Chester, UK from 26-28 March 2013 at the same university.

There were 32 panels with the following plenary speeches/workshops/performances:

a. The beauty Cut: Women’s Experience of Labia Surgery in Animated Documentary by Ellie Land

b. There is No Word for it ( TransMangina Monologues) by Laura Bridgesman and Simon Croft

c. YouTube Portraits of Childbirth by Helen Knowles

e. Where Next for Talking Bodies? (Proposed publication of selected conference papers)

The key note address was given by Naomi Wolf on Justice or Ecstasy?: Two Victorian Sexual Discourses, followed by a book signing of her latest publication Vagina: A Cultural History. There were also social activities such as a feminist pub quiz, talk on the Artefacts of the Pathologized Body, and Pussy Power Workshop.

Feedback on paper presented

Questions raised span the present status of chic lit as untapped source of representation and sexuality in Philippine popular culture, the source of agency for Filipinas in Tagalog erotica novels, the readership/circulation of LitErotika novels in the country, and the foreseeable future of Tagalog erotica novels in Philippine popular culture, be they in analogue and/or digital formats

Future directions of research presented

This paper was originally a thesis proposal during my first semester in graduate school in 2008, which has transformed into a conference paper ans research note in 2009. This paper has since evolved and has transformed into a conference paper and research note in 2009. This paper has since evolved and updated to include more data. Unfortunately, LitErotika has stooped publication and most of its novels are rather difficult to locate. This may be indicative of the need to expand to other forms of erotica, such as online erotica forums, which I have stumbled upon looking for online sources on LitErotika. At present, there are no concrete research plans on the possible expansion of this paper to include online erotica forums.

Other important contacts and insights

This conference is the first international conference I have attended that has been funded by the university. While my first research interests have broadened since I wrote this paper, the conference nevertheless served to rekindle my interest on gender and sexuality. This particular conference far exceeded my expectations and presentations on dance as bodily text, music of the body and female sexuality, vulvar pain against heteronormativity, body integrity identity disorder, a subculture called suicidegirls, and the amazing film on childbirth serve as new analytical points for future research interests. I have also been able to establish contacts with conference delegates from UL, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.

Short write-up of one’s participation (to be used to feature/publicize the grantee’s participation in the conference)

I presented my paper titled “Sex and the Filipina in LitErotika Novels” primarily to be able to share my research on Tagalog erotica novels to an international and interdisciplinary conference. I believe that thorough LitErotika’s creative license, it can participate in the creation of power-knowledge in the representation of sex, sexualities and Filipinas and therefore merits academic inquiry. However, LitErotika has only garnered limited success with its partial account of the experiences of Filipino women-young middle class Filipinas who are likely to have an indulgent lifestyle in view of their disposable income and purchasing power-LitErotika’s attempt to seek them out as target market. While LitErotika may be the first attempt the noteworthy endeavor of printing Tagalog erotica novels, raw as opposed to sanitized, watered down English erotica, the absence of poor women, older women, alongside different genders and ethnicities are glaring. They become invisible in the novels. However, LitErotika has implicated their itself in starting a chain reaction which should be sustained, if it is to be a powerful force in the representation of Filipina sexuality in popular culture. In this possibility, women will be free to explore what they want to desire and express what they do desire, instead of confusing “sexual looking with being looked at sexually, confusing sexually feeling with being sexually felt, and confusing desiring with being desirable with being desirable.” as averred by Naomi Wolf.

I originally posed a challenge to LitErotika in its claim to “elevate the depiction of eroticism and lovemaking in literature” but unfortunately the publisher stopped printing the novels. However, reviews about the novels have penetrated online forums and this may be little cracks that we hope can take shape as seismic ruptures of desire in cyberspace to continue what LitErotika began. The online forums serve as online repositories of erotica uploaded by the members with discussion boards, where readers can immediately post their comments. This holds promise of a democratization of representation in terms of sex, sexuality, and the Filipina.