Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Males that fall under the feminine side and women that fall under the masculine side

Not only was Lacan well-known for working with homosexuals (when the IPA prohibited this practice), but Lacan is pretty clear in arguing that there’s no such thing as a “normal” sexuality. Somehow this line of argumentation seems premised on the thesis that there is a sexual relationship.
I have to confess that I have a number of reservations about Lacan’s account of sexuation. I can understand the graphs themselves well enough. For me the problem is how he gets there. Lacan is fairly clear in arguing that sexuation and biological sex are distinct, such that we can have males that fall under the feminine side of the graph and women that fall under the masculine side of the graph. Yet if this is the case, then why refer to it as sexuation at all? Why not rather refer to it as a particular structure of desire? Moreover, at a certain point it seems as if discussions of sexuation fall back on the empirical, conflating the phallus, which is a signifier, with the penis and then allowing all sorts of contingent events to do the work of explanation, i.e., the same things that caused Freud trouble by virtue of relying on contingent experiences of being told that it would be “cut off”, etc.
Despite the work of Ragland, Sollers, and Verhaeghe, I just haven’t seen a convincing discussion of sexuation in the secondary lit to day. When I read seminars 14 - 21 where Lacan developed his account, his discussions strike me very much as a work that is underway and that hasn’t yet been pinned down. Somehow, whether by accidents of publication history (the release of seminar 20), or other factors, it seems that Lacan’s very provisional claims on these issues have solidified into dogma.

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