Friday, February 28, 2014
Analysis of Luce Irigaray's This Sex Which is Not One & Speculum of the Other Woman
Thekkekara Livea Paul
Reg. No. - 1324153
According to Luce Irigaray, the woman has been constructed as the specular Other of man in all Western discourses. Combining psychoanalysis, philosophy and linguistics, Irigaray's works has been largely influential in poststructuralist feminist thought. her rejection of the male symbolic order in order to highlight difference has been regarded as the "radical feminist" phase of the feminist movement.
(1) Speculum as the curved mirror -
is of feminine self-examination. this is opposed to the flat mirror which privileges the relation of man with other men but excludes the feminine. Psychoanalysis has always inscribed masculine ideology. Irigaray seeks to uncover a feminine order of meaning so that a sexual identity of the woman may be constructed.
(2) Arguement against the "logic of sameness"-
operates within all discourse. this logic means that two specificities of man and woman are consistently merged into one : "man is the measure of all things". Turning of Freud, Irigaray how his theory of sexuality is basically premised on one sex - the male. There is the male and there is the absence or lack - the female. The male is the paradigm of all sexuality - physical changes and sexual pleasure - and sexuality is a priori male for Freud. Irigaray notes : "female sexuality has always been conceptualized on the basis of masculine parameters".
(3) Suggestion of a specifically feminine writing practice -
Proceeding from the assumption that a different order of meaning is necessary to construct a positive representation of the feminine, Irigaray searches out new linguistic modes of expressing the feminine self. The Lacanian idea that language is phallic, she argues, implies a dangerous situation. For the woman to speak, she must speak like a man, or else to break away from the social/symbolic. If women are to have their own identity they must subvert the phallic version of the symbolic. She sees writing as going through the looking glass into a world of woman's self-representation.
(4) Adoption of a slippery kind of writing herself -
Puns, word plays, syntactic experiments and new arrangements, fragmentation becomes the modes of feminine writing that breaks the stranglehold of masculine rigidified and rule bound language. Reading and writing then must favour the images and metaphors of fluidity, dynamism, polysemy and plurality rather than those of unity, monologism, stability and fixity.
(5) Association of the metaphor of the specular mirror with the feminine representation -
The curved surface of the speculum produces a deform image which reverses the reflection of masculine discourse. She writes: then "the specular surface found not the void of nothingness but the dazzle of multifaceted speleology. A scintillating and incandescent concavity". This curved surface represents the inner specificity of the female body. Women need to first represent themselves to themselves in order to constitute themselves as social beings who can form positive relationships with one another.
(6) Rejecting the primacy of sight in psychoanalysis -
She returns to the pre-Oedipal stage where the sense of touch rules the mother-child relation. In addition, she rejects the focus on genitals as the erogenous zone in classical psychoanalysis. Arguing that the woman's body is multiplicity itself, she suggests that female sexuality is also multiple in its erogenous zones. It is now necessary to see female sexuality as not a lack but as "two lips" which are evidently different from the unitariness of the male organ. The lips are "continually interchanging" and touching, they are "neither identifiable nor separable from one another... these two are always joined in an embrace". Fluidity, multiplicity and the primacy of touch inform her writing.
(7) Foregrounding the mother - daughter relationship -
Irigaray argues that the woman's inability to represent herself is due to the undermining of the mother - daughter bond in the Symbolic Order. Motherhood is allowed only a small space, denied economic or social status and separated from the very aspect of sexuality. Creativity is male domain, motherhood is restricted to the nurture and care of the child. The daughter in the patriarchal system must separate from the mother in order to gain her own identity. The daughter is thus "exiled" from her first identity and history.
( the above notes is prepared after referring the lecture given by Shyam, extra reading on Speculum of the Other and analyzing the common grounds between the two.)
* References -
“Luce Irigaray” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Web. 18 February 2014.
Nair, Shyam. “This Sex Which is Not One by Luce Irigaray.” Christ University. Bangalore. 24 February 2014. Lecture.