Passionate Inscription: Love in the Performance of Suicide
In suicide mythology, suicides performed for reasons of forbidden, unrequited or rejected love have been largely romanticised and more likely forgiven. This presentation will analyse the literature surrounding the ways in which love and suicide have been inscribed on male and female bodies. Traditionally, love suicides have predominantly concerned heterosexual love; the woman inspires the emotions, the man acts upon his desires. Consequently, religious and social theorists have warned about the dangers of love and the corresponding dangers of women. Love leaves men vulnerable; Adam's love for Eve made him eat the apple. Love creates confusion; Confucius believed chaos and disorder stemmed from the inability to control one's emotions. Love destroys social order; marriage was traditionally considered too important a social foundation in which to contemplate love. Without love, men were strong and certain, society ran smoothly. In this way, social order and emotional regularity were perceived to protect people, especially men, from suicide. Social order meant that desires needed to be denied, feelings of love could not be acted upon. If men were made vulnerable when they loved a woman, women needed to be chaste and distant so as to become unlovable. They could not tempt men into desire; they could not positively react to male desire. This interplay between desire and denial has become a dangerous game for young women in the modern world. However, love has been replaced with sex in meaning and in action. The suicides and self-harm performed for sexual reasons are not romanticised, nor do they place men in a position of weakness. Women have become vulnerable in a balance between shame and honour, reputation and reality. Socially-perceived goodness is considered to protect women from suicide - it appears that to lose one's goodness is to lose one's claim on life.
Making Sense of Suicide
Social and Community Psychology