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date: 06 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter attempts to reverse Freud’s famous question about what women want. Irigaray has said of Freud that he is not speaking of two sexes but of one: that when speaking of women, ‘The ‘feminine’ is always described in terms of deficiency or atrophy’ (Irigaray 1991: 119). Hence, the feminine is always defined by lack, by the desire for the male organ. As Irigaray contends, in Freudian theory, the feminine is defined as the necessary complement to the operation of male sexuality. The masculine defines, the feminine complies. The masculine creates and stages a text. It enacts via a verbal fiat. The feminine is placed in a position of deference to it: always the lesser, always in a position of supplication. Made to submit, women are repeatedly punished for their irremediable lack. This chapter speculates on the possibility of a discourse of maternity which might bring the possibility of social change.

Keywords: Freud, Irigaray, castration, priapic organization, the power of the phallus, maternal discourse

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