I am very much inspired by the writings of Luce Irigaray, and have recently been reading ‘The Sex Which Is Not One’. I am interested in the commodification of female sexuality, and the use value by which women are measured. Irigaray writes of women’s sexuality as constantly contextualised by “masculine parameters”, and thus the vagina acts as a passive crevice ready for when men want to explore their sexuality.
However, Irigaray talks of the unique sexuality of women as utterly different from the activity and need of men, who need an object for sexual stimulation. “As for woman, she touches herself in and of herself without any need for mediation and before there is any way to distinguish activity from passivity.” Women are able to constantly provide a sense of sexual pleasure independent from any other being or form of activity, as “her genitals are formed of two lips in continuous contact”. Thus Irigarary writes, “she is already two – but not divisible into one(s) – that caress each other. Sexuality is natural for women, it requires no activity or aggression, as the body produces its own pleasure. I am interested in this idea of the woman as an erotic being unto herself, not restricted to ones self, but completely able to gage pleasure from within herself, and the possible connection this could have to hysteria. I do not believe hysteria is a sexual problem per say. I rather believe it is the issue of a wider repressive society in all forms, as women are repressed sexually, economically, culturally, socially and politically. However, I am interested in the eroticism that hysteria could hold if a woman’s sexuality is completely of herself as Irigaray states. There is something erotic yet unnerving about the release of repressed emotions, and I feel a connection between hysterical and sexual tendencies would be something I’d like to explore further throughout the course of this project.
Irigaray goes on to make some very interesting claims about the female use language. “‘She’ is indefinitely other in herself.” Irigaray writes that female sexuality is comprised of multiple erogenous zones, therefore a woman derives pleasure from multiple points on the body – she is not one but multiple. She goes on to state that this innate sexuality is what causes miscommunications in language: “‘she’ sets off in all directions leaving ‘him’ unable to discern the coherence of any meaning”.
“What she says is never identical with anything, moreover; rather it is contiguous. It touches (upon). And when it strays too far from that proximity, she breaks off and starts over at ‘zero’: her body sex.” What is interesting here is how the female touches upon the subject, she is always beyond the believed, archaic meanings of language, she can communicate in dualisms as she understands her sexuality as more than one, a contrast with men who can only see one, only see one power and only see one way of ‘rational’ objective communication. Thus she states, “it is useless… to trap women in the exact definition of what they mean”.
Women are beyond the patriarchal forms of meaning which are based on the imperialistic ability of being able to control minorities and women through language. They do not need meaning in the same way, as meaning can have a more fluid form. I am interested in the ability for language to be more than the words that are said, and I am interested in the way that women are trapped to adhere to a form of communication which doesn’t express their own wants, desires and needs. As such, I would like to explore the entrapment of women within the patriarchal language of men, and understand how this could lead to a hysterical act, as women are constantly excluded from the patriarchal systems of control, as their means of communication are not an end in themselves, but are prescribed by societal forces that with to undermine them.