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Lacan on Sexual Difference
For Lacan, masculinity and femininity are not biological essences but symbolic positions, and the assumption of one of these two positions is fundamental to the construction of [[[subjectivity]]; the subject is essentially a sexed subject.
Becoming a Sexed Subject
For Freud, the subject's sexual position is determined by the sex of the parent with whom the subject identifies in the Oedipus complex (if the subject identifies with the father, he takes up a masculine position; identification with the mother entails the assumption of a feminine position).
"Having" or "Not Having" the Phallus
This relationship can either be one of "having" or "not having"; men have the symbolic phallus, and women don't (or, to be more precise, men are "not without having it" [ils ne sont pas sans l'avoir]).
The assumption of a sexual position is fundamental a symbolic act, and the difference between the sexes can only be conceived of on the symbolic plane.
It is insofar as the function of man and woman is symbolized, it is insofar as it's literally uprooted from the domain of the imaginary and situated in the domain of the symbolic, that any normal, completed sexual position is realized.
- Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre XX. Encore, 1972-73. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1975. p.34
- Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.153
- Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book III. The Psychoses, 1955-56. Trans. Russell Grigg. London: Routledge, 1993. p.177