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Luce Irigaray

(b. 1932)


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(1930– )

Belgian feminist theorist, whose work explored the construction of sexual difference in western philosophy and psychoanalysis. Irigaray was educated at Louvain, and taught in Brussels and Paris. Her early work in linguistics concerned the disruptive effects of mental illness on speech. But since being attached to the École Freudienne of Lacan she was been especially concerned with the repression of female joy and sexuality, the jouissance féminine, and the distortion of its organic nature by male categories. She is notable for associating a different female voice and mode of experience with the different bodily natures of men and women. The female body is seen as the threshold of the female mind with its joyous wisdom and faith: ‘beyond the classic opposites of love and hate, liquid and ice lies this perpetually half-open threshold, consisting of lips that are strangers to dichotomy’ (‘The Politics of Difference’). Some feminist thinkers regard such pronouncements as savouring of essentialism. Her writings included Speculum de l'autre femme (1974, trs. as Speculum of the Other Woman, 1985), Ce sexe qui n'en est pas un (1977, trs. as This Sex which is Not One, 1985), and Éthiques de la différence sexuelle (1984).

Subjects: Philosophy


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