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Asia Anderson Dr. Mark King Colq. 2994 5 Oct. 2012 Luce Irigaray “I am a woman. I am a being sexualized as feminine. I am sexualized female. The motivation of my work lies in the possibility of articulating such a statement…” (This Sex 148). Luce Irigaray’s purpose in studying the female sex rests on the fact that the above statement is how the phallocentric Western society has defined her and other females to be. The reason why she is concerned about the uselessness of stating how she sees herself as a woman is because a woman cannot be defined by one definition. There are many aspects of this sex that creates the complexity of being defined into one denotation; however, Irigaray says that a woman should accept her false phallocentric definition in hopes to add truths in order to create a new definition to the term “female” (This Sex 150). She explains her ideas of female sexuality and how to effectively change the presumed ideals of the feminine sex in her book entitled Speculum of the Other Woman and a collection of essays in another book entitled This Sex Which is Not One. She also determines that genderplaced language will not change unless there is equality displayed during intercourse between the binary sexes in her book An Ethics of Sexual Difference. In This Sex Which is Not One, Irigaray states that she first had to accept the history of how masculine society defined women in order to develop a sufficient definition to the term woman. She uses the metaphor of looking in the mirror to explain that the woman is not the same as man or even a sex at all, but the woman is categorized as being the deficiency of the primary sex. The mirror allows the woman to determine that she is the “otherness of the sameness” (151-52). Irigaray explains that the female

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sex does not exists without the existence the male first, thus the woman is the other of the male species. The male is the self-reliant sex, while the female is only the subsidiary matter. One major philosopher she believes escalated the belief that the female is the deficiency of the male sex is Sigmund Freud. In her book entitled, Speculum of the Other Woman, she dedicates one third of the book to Freudian explanations of the origins of female sexuality. Irigaray says in This Sex Which is Not One that Freud defines the female sex and sexuality under his assumed theory that females develop sexual by recognizing that they lack maleness (69). Freud neglects to see two sexes; he only recognizes the males and includes the female because he is obligated to. In Speculum, Irigaray showcases Freud’s many attempts to explain the deficiency of the feminine sex; nonetheless, the explanation that upsets Irigaray the most is when Freud states that the little girl is only a little boy. He states, “Individuals of both sexes seem to pass through the early phase of libidinal development in the same manner […] The little girl is therefore a little man” (25). This statement further proves Irigaray’s thesis of the woman not being a sex because Freud does not attempt to recognize the sexual development of the female under individual terms; he explains that the female believes that she is the same as the male, until she realizes that she is something other than male. Irigaray’s answer to this philosophical idea of the development of the feminine sexuality can be found in her essay entitled “The Power of Discourse and the Subordination of the Feminine,” which appeared in This Sex Which is Not One, when she states, “…Freud is describing an actual state of affairs. He does not invent female sexuality […] as a ‘man of science,’ he merely accounts for them” (70). Men have defined the female sex and pleasures as the opposite of the male’s desire for so long, that its beliefs have been firmly implemented into Western society, causing the female sex to not be a sex at all, but, according to Irigaray, the

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Other of the Same. Irigaray uses a fictional dream to explain her idea of the Same and Other in Speculum: But man only asks (himself) questions that he can already answer, using the supply of instruments he has available to assimilate […] he will make the unconscious into a property of his language. The really urgent tasks is to ensure the colonization of this new ‘field,’ to force it, […] into the production of the same discourse. And since there can be no question of using the same plan/e for this ‘strange’ speech, this ‘barbarous’ language […] will bear the paradox of forcing into the same representation— the representation of the self/same— that which insists upon is heterogeneity, its otherness (137). Irigaray explains this dream in a Freudian manner to express how language was developed to promote the continuation of the Same and Other dialect. This dialect is used to show the binary attributes of the masculine (same) and feminine (other); what the main sex does, the other does the opposite. She states that the woman does not exist, but the language that creates her brings life to her nature (This Sex 89). Irigaray’s main thesis is that sexual differences are exhibited in language, along with societal customs (This Sex 220). In the extended portion of the dream in Speculum, Irigaray points the idea of the “subject” and the “object” (133-32). She explains that the “subject” is the masculine and that the “object” is the feminine trying to be defined under masculine terms (133). She stresses that the female should not push to become the “subject,” but rather use the phallocentric terms that have already been developed to benefit the feminine side by acknowledging the negative denotations of the many terms to create those terms into a positive (This Sex 78-80). For women to try to be

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the “subject” only creates the same phallocentric society that the women are trying to liberate themselves from; they should seek to become equal to men. Irigaray also explains in This Sex Which is Not One that the Same and Other dialect showcases “women’s social inferiority [are] reinforced and complicated by the fact that [women do] not have access[es] to language, except through recourse to ‘masculine’ systems of representation…” (85). During the law of exchange— the act of men giving away women as peace offerings, in marriages, and etc.— women had no choice but to live up to the masculine form of representation, which was placing the woman’s desire into the need become a wife and mother. However, women today have the opportunity to change the language of the political system because they are now in the external position of the law of exchange. (Sexual Difference 11) However, Irigaray believes the existence of the feminine to have a language of its own is still unimaginable today In relation to the misinterpretations of female sexuality, Irigaray states that the “subject” believes that female pleasure comes from her longing to be satisfied through pain. She explains that if a woman has up to twenty orgasms that lead to exhaustion, “those orgasms are necessary as a demonstration of masculine domination” (This Sex 199). In An Ethics of Sexual Difference, Irigaray explains that the woman’s sexual pleasure cannot be determined by her status as the other (14). She states, “[Women] must reexamine [their] history thoroughly to understand why this sexual difference has not had its chance to develop” (15). Irigaray believes that the reason why a woman’s sexual pleasure is always in contrast with the “subject” is that history, from ancient myths to philosophy, proves that a woman has to give up her desires to become a wife and mother. Irigaray uses the term la mascaraed to explain her theory of the misconceptions of female sexual pleasure. She defines la mascaraed to mean “an alienated or false version of femininity

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arising from the woman’s awareness of the man’s desire for her to be his other, the masquerade permits woman to experience desire not in her own right, but as the man’s desire situates her” (This Sex 220). For so long the woman has morphed her desires and sexual pleasures to please man. Irigaray suggest that women should ask themselves the nature of the “theoretical and practical” lines of phallocentric society, and if women find themselves attracted to something other than the masculine “laws, rules, and rituals,” then women have encountered their own nature (This Sex 203, emphasis added). Sexual equality only occurs when both sexes respect each other as different in order to perform the highest act of physical attraction, and when this is accomplished, the language of the subordinates women will change. In an essay entitled “Questions,” which appeared in This Sex Which Is Not One, Irigaray states that she has no real conclusions to her work; she only raises propositions (152). She also that she does not answer for women, but believes that her works expresses the history that keeps women oppressed in the phallocentric society (This Sex 156). Her purpose in writing Speculum is to show the representation of the female sex according to masculine parameters (This Sex 68). Because she has done this, she has hypothesized that the female sex is not a sex at all, but the other to the same. She comes up with this thesis by looking at the language that has kept the feminine sex as the negative of male. The dialect of the Same and Other determines the actions of the male and female— whatever action that the same participates in, the other does the opposite. Irigaray urges women to investigate the phallocentric history of defining the feminine to develop their own nature. To do this, women need to first accept the negative assumptions that masculine society has placed upon the females in order to construct a different language that liberates them from the Same.

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Works Cited Irigaray, Luce. An Ethics of Sexual Difference. Trans. Carolyn Burke and Gillian C. Gill. London: Continuum, 2004. Print. ---. Speculum of the Other Woman. Trans. Gillian C. Gill. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985. Print. ---. “The Power of Discourse and the Subordination of the Feminine.” This Sex Which is Not One. Trans. Catherine Porter and Carolyn Burke. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985. 68-85. Print. ---. This Sex Which is Not One. Trans. Catherine Porter and Carolyn Burke. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985. Print.