Propos directifs pour un congres sur la sexualite feminine

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1960 (15 pp.)-PROPOS DIRECTIFS POUR UN CONGRES SUR LA SEXUALITE FEMININE (GUIDING REMARKS FOR A CONGRESS ON FEMININE .. SEXUALlTY)-1964 In 1959-1960, thc S.F.P. devotcd part of its work to the investigation of psychoanalytic theories of feminine sexuality, before participating, in Sep�tcmbcr 1960, in the International Colloquium in Amsterdam. Issue 7 of La Psychallalyse (1964) included translations of Deutsch, Jones. and Riviere as well as articles by Laurin, Dolto, Granoff, and Perrier. Lacan's text, whose title is significant, opened the volume and summed up the historical and theo�retical situation. He said that he wrote it in 1958; indeed this text includes, summarizcd in a didactic way, theses that had been argued in La Relation d' objet (33). Les Formations de l'incOllSCiellt (36), La Signification du phal�lus (39). Le Desir et son illleTpretatioll (41). and the article on Jones (42). If he felt the need to revise it, it was indeed because his mind was set about the main points. Contrary to Melanie Klein, Ernest Jones, Karen Horney. and others, he advocates the strictest return to the Freudian doctrine, that is, the primacy of the father, the absolute privilege of the phallus for both sexes, and the existcnce of one single and male libido. Otherwise, one could not claim to be a Freudian, because one would let one's prejudices speak and would forget what listening to the unconscious teaches. All the classical themes of feminine sexuality (frigidity, maternity. masoch�ism, and homosexuality) are thus situated in an imperative framework. "We start with the man so as to measure the reciprocal position of the sexes," "and, afterwards, this opens up" a certain problem concerning women, for it is doubtful that one would learn anything by taking woman as a starting point; that is, "the feminine part, if the term has any meaning, of what is played out in the genital relation, in which the act of coitus occupies, to put it no higher, a limited and local place." Woman must assume the position of "the absolute Other" who she is in "the phallocentric dialectic": "Man acts as the relay whereby woman becomes this Other for herself as she is this Other for him." Remember the "subjective dead end" specific to women (concerning Dora (20», and the feminine position that is "problematic and, up to a certain point. cannot be assimilated" (30). Here again Lacan refers to homosexuality in order to try to dissociate femininity and passivity: it is analyzed as "the effort The Works of Jacques laceD m of a Jouissance wrapped in its own contiguity (and all circumcision might represent its symbolic rupture) in order to be realized in the envy (se realiser d [' envi] of the desire that castration releases in the male by giving him its signifier in the phallus." Such is the modernist version of penis envy. Once these broad lines are sketched, the appraisal of the contribution of psychoanalysis to the knowledge of feminine sexuality is negative~ it is an appraisal of ignorance. "The vagiAal orgasm has kept the darkness of its na�ture inviolate," one even wonders whether "the phallic mediation drains off the whole force of the drives in the woman, and notably the whole current of the maternal instinct." Lacan adds, "Perhaps we should also state here the fact that everything that can be analyzed is sexual does not entail that every�thing sexual is accessible to analysis?" Would the feminine be the unanalyz�able part of sexuality? Besides, did the author really want ignorance to disappear? A joke leads us to doubt it: "A congress on feminine sexuality is not going to hold over us the threat of Tiresias's fate" (the seer who was changed into a woman for a while). It is, therefore, better to go on asserting that the only possibility offered to psychoanalysts is to study "the incidences of the phallus in the subjective structure" of women, according to the three categories of the Imaginary, the Real, and the Symbolic. Lacan concludes with very broad questions concerning feminine sexuality and society (or culture), but these questions would never really be followed up. On the other hand, feminine sexuality would haunt the seminars, in rela�tion with the famous expression: "There is no sexual relation." The most well-known text is undoubtedly the 1972-1973 seminar, Encore (84.). At least in part, it picks up "Freud's often repeated warning not to reduce the supplement of feminine over masculine to the complement of passive to ac�tive." It is around this term EPple~hat Lacan would try to find !lis solution to a problem whose givens he tried, above all, to master.