Men in Feminism by Alice Jardine

By Alice Jardine

The 1st titanic try to produce a discussion among feminists and their male allies, this selection of essays assesses the advantages or hazards of male participation in feminism.

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But feminists have for long understood that the universalized primacy of the phallus in psychoanalysis, the phallus as aboriginal signifier, can only be maintained by fiat (it just is, there is nothing else to say), that, on psychoanalysis’s own terms, exactly because the man’s fright of castration at the sight of the female genital claimed by Freud is constructed from the paternal threat of castration recognized in the Oedipal moment, posing the problem of having or not-having, then the phallus cannot sustain the whole of sexual difference and sexuality, that the crucial matter of the relation to the maternal body, her sameness and difference and the articulations of that for the boy and the girl, is crucial, outside of any notion of the pre-Oedipal which just runs everything back from the phallus and relics off—Freud’s buried civilization—the maternal as before and can 22 Men in Feminism then only see interest in it as regressive, exactly where you would expect women to be and where men shouldn’t.

Psychoanalysis indeed, part of its intense value, is exactly bound up with all the problems of the relationships, overlaps and breaks between 20 Men in Feminism the sexual as male and female for sexual reproduction and the individual’s history as a speaking human being, given a definition as a man or a woman, produced in a particular patterning of “masculinity,” “femininity,” unconscious desire. The Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality are a problematic story about the developing match and mismatch of the sexual and sexuality from infancy to adulthood; the case histories, Dora and the Rat Man, the Wolf Man and Schreber (Little Hans is too programmed to fit the norm, the child was painfully too little to have demonstrated how much more was at stake than the decreed scenario), are stories—novels—of the multiple, complex, heterogeneous mix-up of sexuality, sexual identity.

I think one has politically to accept the contradictions (not be put off by charges of theoretical impurity, incorrectness). The relation of sex to identity is not immediate, we are constructed as gendered individuals in a complex psycho-social history; “male” and “female,” “masculinity” and “femininity” are positions, places, terms of identification; we are unfinished, sexually heterogeneous, however much the orders of heterosexual law constrain and define; woman and man do not exist only men and women with all the shared experience that race and class can cut across much more decisively at many points, in many situations.

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