In her essay ‘This Sex which is Not One’, Luce Irigaray explicitly exposes the construction of female body which is quite often not much talked about. She deconstructs female sexuality conceptualised by the patriarchy according to masculine norms.
Since ancient times, sexuality has been defined based on the presence of phallis. Woman was portrayed as the imperfect man. Female body was considered deformed due to its absence of phallis. This lack of the penis created envy in women called the penis envy. It was believed that a woman shows love and servitude towards her father/husband in order to satisfy her penis envy. Her desire for the penis is also achieved by giving birth to a boy child.
Irigaray talks about autoeroticism in women. A woman’s genitials consist of two lips that are constantly in contact with each other. So, unlike a man she doesn’t need an instrument (hand) to derive pleasure. The lips are disturbed by the brutal violation of the penis into the “hole” and are thus seen as an assertion of man’s dominance over women. Thus a woman is not one but two for her genitials are formed of two lips in continuous contact.
Next she talks about the Western sexuality that is dictated by males and is based on erections. She condemns this sexual imaginary as she feels that a woman is a mere prop for man’s fantasies. The desire of force entry into the vagina is due to two reasons. One is to seek the mystery of the womb and the other to make blood flow again in order to establish the lost maternal connection. The pleasure she derives in the penetration makes her dependant over man leaving her in a state of being submissive. By submitting to the desire of the man her identity is being negated. She according to Irigaray is negated to none. Irigaray states that maternity fills the gap of the repressed female sexuality.
In this essay Irigaray constructs a female imaginary and questions the notion on the ambiguity revolving around female sexuality since the time of Greeks. The essay gives an implicit and explicit understanding of the female body, sexuality and desires. Since time immemorial body and sexuality were understood always in a man’s perspective so in this essay she deviates from the male perspective and looks at the body from a female’s point of view.