Shulamith Firestone was perhaps the most infamous radical feminist theorist of the twentieth century. As a student at the Art Institute of Chicago, she became an early activist in the women’s movement, founding (with Jo Freeman) the Westside Group in 1967, in large part in response to the patronizing sexism of left politics at the time. After moving to New York she founded New York Radical Women (NYRW) and wrote […]
Benoît Peeters, Derrida: A Biography, trans. Andrew Brown, Polity Press, Cambridge and Malden MA, 2012. 603 pp., £25.00 hb., 978 0 74565 615 1. ‘What matter who’s speaking, someone said, what matter who’s speaking?’ Despite post-structuralist philosophies’ association with Beckettian questions such as these, they remain surprisingly bound to what Foucault called that ‘singular relationship that holds between an author and a text’. Hence, of course, the ambiguous attractions of […]
Feminist protest against US torture practices, including outcries over the use of sex, sexuality and sexual identity in the torture of prisoners at US detention sites from Guantánamo to Abu Ghraib, have understandably tended to focus on what the abuse destroys – the victim and his or her community. Here, though, I ask what the torture produces. Borrowing and revising a question that Catharine MacKinnon posed about genocide (‘What is […]
What is sex? Some feminists have harboured suspicions about this form of question, given its philosophical (or ‘metaphysical’1) pedigree. But philosophy no longer has the disciplinary monopoly on it. Indeed, with regard to sex, the more interesting task today is to pose and to attempt to answer the question from within a transdisciplinary problematic. For the question requires a theoretical response capable of recognizing that it concerns a cultural and […]
Sex and gender issues in the case of intersex runner Caster Semenya
Philippe Van Haute traces the evolution of the relation between ‘normality’ and pathology in Freud’s additions to Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.
Across the last two or three decades identity and desire have been ʻtheorizedʼ relentlessly. Influences have been diverse: I remember especially the impact, for gay writing, of Barthesʼ dream, or plea, in 1975, for a radical sexual diversity wherein there would no longer be homosexuality (singular) but homosexualities, a plural so radical it ʻwill baffle any centred, constituted, discourse to the point where it seems … pointless to talk about itʼ.1 And Derridaʼs […]
Jean Laplanche is the most original and philosophically informed psychoanalytic theorist of his day. Setting out from a critical reconstruction of Freudʼs terminology, he has developed a systematic rethinking of psychoanalytic metapsychology under the heading of a ʻgeneral theory of seductionʼ. Still best known in Britain for his early joint work with Pontalis – ʻFantasy and the Origins of Sexualityʼ (1964; trans., International Journal of PsychoAnalysis, 1968) and The Language […]