Without an unconscious, or the repression that creates it, or the reality principle that demandsrepression (which is associated with what Freud calls the superego), the child has no gender. AsFreud describes it, going through the Oedipus Complex as a developmental stage in childhoodturns us from the incestuous sexual developmental stage to the exogamous sexual stage.LacanCentral to the conception of the human for Lacan is the notion that the unconscious, whichgoverns all factors of human existence, is structured like a language. Patriarchy, as our center,
limits the play of elements and gives stability to the whole structure. In “The Agency of theLetter in the Unconscious,” he makes to drawings: the first is the word tree over th
e picture of atree, which is the classic Saussurean concept of signifier (word) and signified (object). Thesecond is of two identical doors
; over one door is the word “ladies” and over the other is theword “gentlemen.”
A patriarchal culture is one which aligns all the left-side terms as the valuedones, and consigns all the right-
side terms to the position of “other.”
She also links binary structures to Western cultural practice, and she follows Freud’s lead
regarding gender, maintaining that women are aligned with otherness, and men with selfhood. In
writing about this she refers to women as “they,” as non
-speakers and non-writers, stating that as
“others” women enter the symbolic by taking up a subject position, being assigned a name, and
then being assigned a meaning. Novels, she says, are allies of this representationalism; they aregenres, which try to speak a stable language, a language where one signifier points to onesignified. For Cixous, what has been repressed into the unconscious is female sexuality and thefemale body. For Freud, the basic idea of hysteria is that the body produces a symptom whichrepresents a repressed idea; thus, the body speaks what the conscious mind cannot say.We are the only species that can copulate more or less at will, and that alone separates sexualbehavior from reproduction. Sexual behavior in human culture is almost always about somethingmore than just pleasure or reproduction: it is often about forms of power and dominance.HistoryHistory is a story a culture tells itself about its past.MarxismMarxAccording to Marx, the economic base is the primary determining factor in all social relations:everything that happens in a society is in some way related to, and determined by, the economic
base. The existence of a society’s economic base permits the construction of a superstructure, or
a set of social systems determined by the base. Marxist theory asks how the base does this. How,for instance, does the feudal mode of production determine religious beliefs and practices?Ideology and its ideologies are the kinds of ideas that exist in the superstructure. How does theeconomic
base influence the form and content of that society’s literature?
AlthusserHe distinguishes between ideologies and Ideology. Ideologies are specific, historical, anddiffering; we can talk about various ideologies, such as Christian, democratic, feminist, Marxist.