A Myth Beyond the Phallus: Female Fetishism in Kathy Acker’s Late Novels

A Myth Beyond the Phallus: Female Fetishism in Kathy Acker’s Late Novels

1 Debates about female fetishism are taking place for pretty much 2 decades now; but there seems to be up to now no opinion concerning the value of claiming this practice that is particular feminist politics.

Ever since Sarah Kofman’s suggestion that a reading that is derridean of 1927 essay could maybe perhaps not preclude the chance of feminine fetishism (133), “indecidability” has characterized just about any try to theorize that training. Naomi Schor’s very early suspicion that female fetishism could be just the “latest and a lot of simple as a type of penis envy” (371) will continue to haunt efforts to delimit a particularly female manifestation of the perversion commonly recognized, in psychoanalytic terms, become reserved for males. Subsequent efforts to “feminize” the fetish by Elizabeth Grosz, Emily Apter, and Teresa de Lauretis have actually reiterated Schor’s doubt concerning the subject, and none have actually dispelled entirely the shadow of this inaugural question. Proponents of female fetishism may actually have held Baudrillard’s famous warning about fetish discourse, and its particular capability to “turn against those that make use of it” (90), securely at heart.

2 Reviewing the real history of the debate in her own present book, Object Lessons:

Just how to Do Things With Fetishism, E. L. McCallum implies that the impasse that is political on the value of fetishism’s paradigmatic indeterminacy for feminist politics has arisen, in reality, through your time and effort to determine an solely femalefetishism. Relating to McCallum, a careful reading of Freud about the subject reveals that, “The extremely effectiveness of fetishism as a method lies with exactly exactly just how it (possibly productively) undermines the rigid matrix of binary difference that is sexual indeterminacy…. To then reinscribe fetishism within that exact same matrix–defining a man or woman fetishism–undercuts fetishism’s strategic effectiveness” (72-73). McCallum’s advocacy of a “sympathetic” epistemological come back to Freud might appear an extremely ironic means to fix issues about determining feminine fetishism, since those debates arose out from the want to challenge the fundamental psychoanalytic relationship between fetishism and castration. The fetish is constructed out of the young boy’s effort to disavow his mother’s evident castration, and to replace her missing penis for Freud, of course. In this part, it functions being a “token of triumph on the danger of castration and a security against it” (“Fetishism” 154). Kofman’s initial discussion of female fetishism arises away from her reading of Derrida’s Glas as an official dual erection, by which each textual column will act as an “originary health supplement” perhaps perhaps not influenced by castration (128-29). Yet while most theorists of female fetishism have followed Kofman in attacking the connection between castration and fetishism (a exception that is notable de Lauretis), McCallum’s work to read through Freudian fetishism as a method of wearing down binary types of gender distinction resonates using the methods of a writer whoever share to debates about feminine fetishism went to date unnoticed. Kathy Acker’s postmodernist fiction clearly negotiates the dilemma of going back to Freud’s concept of fetishism to be able to affirm the chance of a female fetish, and also to erode main-stream intimate and gender hierarchies. As a result, it offers a forum where the want to assert a fetishism that is specifically female face-to-face with McCallum’s sympathetic return, while additionally providing an oblique commentary in the work of Schor, Apter, and de Lauretis, whom utilize fictional texts whilst the foundation for his or her theoretical conclusions. Acker’s novels show proof of a want to mix a concept of feminine fetishism having a aware practice that is fictional.


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