To regard a woman as beautiful is a form of judgment that not only concerns the politics of gender and sexuality but also usually assumes a normative visual ability. This paper analyzes the Chinese film Blind Massage (directed by Lou Ye, 2014), in which blind masseurs’ experience and understandings of sexual intimacy are influenced and manipulated by the normative image of female beauty. By examining its narrative and visuality, I reflect upon how the film critically represents and intervenes in the entanglement of beauty, sexuality, and disability. I argue that, on the one hand, the film helps to problematize and defamiliarize the social construction of normative sex. On the other hand, it effectively readjusts the social and cultural perception of peripheral embodiment.
Beauty, haptic cinema, sexuality, visual impairment.
Digressions 3.2 (2019), pp. 18-35
Download full text (pdf)