"I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess."
-Donna Haraway

"If you don't understand, so much the better, that will give you the opportunity to explain."
-Jacques Lacan, XX The function of the written

I am feeling a little bit better these past few days. It's amazing what a day of wine, relaxation and shitty tv can do for a person's mental health. Plus, I think I forgot my meds for a good few days. I tend to forget things like that and then go crazy.

I am trying to reconcile myself with Lacan's belief that woman is 'not-whole,' that we cannot speak of woman in language so it is necessary to cross her out (literally, he crosses out the word woman a lot of the time). Woman is the empty signifier that structures the jouissance of the male. She is a signifier of nothing, there is no content, only a framework by which the signifier 'male' is constructed.

As such, the sexual relationship is impossible for Lacan. Men seek the 'object' of jouissance, but in the actual relation of love, of physical love, they are stopped short. Phallic jouissance necessitates fusion with the object but when this occurs, the woman 'castrates' the male (according to pyschoanalysis). So there is always that limit reached by the male, and really no place at all for female jouissance within a phallocentric, symbolic discourse whatsoever. The woman only has access to jouissance (which, according to Freud, is always masculine, because libidinal energy is always masculine) when mediated through the male, or through a child.

But then, ta-da, Lacan brings in this notion of an "extra" jouissance, only capable for women. There is always a limit, in which women refuse to participate in the game of phallocentric jouissance. A holding-back, so to speak, that prevents full submersion within the discourse. As a result, this jouissance cannot be articulated. It cannot be articulated in language, just as the woman has no place within language except as Other, and as such, doesn't exist, making "sexual relationship impossible."

But in order to cover his ass, Lacan relates this "extra" feminine jouissance to a notion of God. He can't just say that 'woman' doesn't exist without making up some bullshit theory that doesn't make him look like a complete ass. So, he mystifies it. Because apparently, if men can't understand female sexuality or find a place for it within their discourse (heaven forbid your reconstitute it or re-think its foundations), then there is no choice but to put female sexuality behind a "screen" of mysticism and divinity that pretends to relegate to women some privledged place close to God and somehow puts them 'above' language and the paltry discourses of tradition. Unfortunately, positioning women behind this screen (because men like Lacan, self-admittedly can't understand female sexuality) is just another way of idealizing femininity and placing female jouissance within the framework of some patriarchal male deity (literal or not, the 'Divine' is always masculine). It's basically like shoving woman behind a veil and then worshipping her from the other side as something unknowable. Ironically, Lacan shifts back and forth between glorifying this 'extra,' 'unknowable' jouissance and saying that it doesn't exist, and sometimes goes so far as to say that women are holding back, they are not "telling us everything." Fuck, yo. How the fuck can he blame women for 'not telling him everything' if, after all, according to him, there is no way to even communicate and speak female desire? Isn't this a fault of your discourse?

The annoying thing is, even Irigaray positions female sexuality somewhere within 'the divine.' She thinks women need to accept their corporeal nature and sexual difference, but also spouts off about how women must recognize the "divinity of their sexuality."

Even fucking Haraway talks about female sexuality as something "divine, close to God."

What the fuck are we doing here?
There is no place for female sexuality except as pure archaic, primitive body, or, as sexual beings somehow related to 'the divine'?
I don't want to be divine. There is nothing special or divine about female sexuality, any more than for men. Thinking of my sexual identity as something that brings me closer to 'the divine' makes me want to throw up, actually.

Come on, people.
I love you, but...come on.

(I'm pretty sure maybe 1 person will read this whole post. Thanks if you did.)

Also, the image above is by Leonardo daVinci. Need I explain and rant about its portrayal of sexuality? Jacqueline Rose already did this for me.


  1. I read it! And I'm reminded of one of my favorite lines in feminist literature: ". . . instead of seeing giving birth as a forced production, we see it as a 'natural,' 'biological' process, forgetting that in our societies births are planned . . . forgetting that we ourselves are programmed to produce children." --Monique Wittig, "One is Not Born a Woman."

  2. Can't one (I don't want to use this word, but) generalize Lacan's discourse (although I'm sure HE doesn't) to posit that people assert the jouissance of one another through sexual union regardless of gender? I'm fairly certain that the structures of sexual orientation and our identification with it are what structure jouissance, phallocentric and Otherwise (ha). I think the structure changes when the object of desire changes, gender aside (or inclduded, depending on how you want to think about it.)

    And why the fuck is libidinal energy always masculine? The whole concept of a holding back on the part of females is absolutely tripe.

    On the other hand, I'm all for exploring a mysticism of sexuality as long as it exists as an expansion of theory rather than a cop out or a gap-filler. Your mouthful of vomit is probably due to an association of the divine with religion rather than a unifying force that doesn't necessarily have to be god. Sex is literally as close as we can get to one another and I think a part of the pleasure is a recognition, or a satisfaction of a shared uncertainty. That's kind of divine, no?

  3. Um, no, I think that would be a fallacy. Lacan repeats all the time "there is no such thing as sexual relationship;" meaning, there is always a lack. Pleasure and desire never full match up, satisfaction doesn't happen, and this is also a result of the way in which signifiers relate to the signified. Jouissance (I quote Loebel) is that space of pleasure beyond meaning, because consciousness can't articulate itself in the moment of orgasm. As soon as you use words to express that feeling it is diminished. So jouissance is the alignment of pleasure and desire, but then that moment of alignment passes and you're back in the symbolic again. So jouissance is something completely separate from the body of the Other. In fact, jouissance requires the Other but keeps the Other out of its pleasure. At least because the Other is also what limits the jouissance of the Subject.

    Libidinal energy is 'masculine' because that is the way language is structured. Because these concepts were constructed within a particular discourse that favours masculine desire and considers it the 'default.' The only jouissance there is, is phallic jouissance, except for the 'extra' experienced by women, and both the latter and 'woman' cannot be articulated in language.

    It's not the religious connotations so much as the notion of female sexuality being some marvelous la-de-da up in the clouds kind of idealized, beyond-the-symbolic experience. I don't think sex is very mystical. And I think it exposes the real lack between people. The moment of jouissance is the only place where people can't pretend, and then you realize how inadequate the relation is.

    Um, does that make any sense? I just spent 8 hours at York, my brain is much. In any case, I disagree with you. Thanks for reading though, Pat.

  4. Men are gayer than they want to admit, their heterosexual pleasure is all in how much they enjoy their wiggling phallus, and their fear of getting confused by lady parts.

    My recent thought on jouissance is as follows: at birth our pleasure is less bounded and our desires undifferentiated. As life and socialization work to divide and redistribute our desires, we start to see the gap between desire and pleasure. Jouissance, then, may be a type of body myth of total pleasure meeting undifferentiated desire. But we are so divided that a 'total pleasure' is actually an act of inner and outer differentiation and destruction.

    I don't know if that's gendered or not. Psychoanalyst - Queer Theorist Cage Match!

    I think one of the most damning feminist facts out there is that the X chromosome has more information on it than the Y chromosome; we men are literally incomplete.

    You should read "Cunt: A Declaration of Independance." Ignore the fact that I have a penis for a second.

  5. That's a good explanation of jouissance. It's very clear, thank you.

    I will read it!

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