feminine principle: horns of a dilemma

Freud evidently thought the essence of femininity was narcissism and indifference.It was a theory explicitly based on woman’s natural inferiority, that is as ridiculous as it is hypocritical.But, it conformed to the structural,institutional and systematic reasons that still exist today. Freud seemed to have a role in supporting bourgeois society with a “divide and conquer” ethic that would encourage economic consumption as a form of psychic displacement and upholding the values of patriarchy and its accompanying militarism….

Kuspit:Notice the fine, elongated fingers of the foreground girl. One finger of each hand is adorned with a ring, each set with a gem, suggesting wealth and privilege. There's a clever interplay between the pink nail polish of her masturbating fingers and the darker pink of her thick labia, and between the thick black line that marks the opening between them and the delicate lines that demarcate her fingers. The inflamed labia register the pressure of her touch just as the blanket on which she sits registers the pressure of her body. There's an odd density to the scene, for all its uncanny flatness: bodies, blankets, sheets, skins, eyebrows, lips, faces, slip, stockings and paint are studies in flatness. Gradations of thinness, they seem more facade than substance. But detail builds upon detail, with little or no painterly mortar or excess. They hold together seamlessly: the picture is a hermetic garden of flawed innocence. Two sisters in sin have fallen, tasted the forbidden fruit of self-knowledge, and have been ousted from emotional paradise. They form a community of incommunicado suffering. Christian Schad... read more:http://www.artnet.de/magazine/provocative-realism/

Because Freud’s followers could only see woman in the image defined by Freud – inferior, childish, helpless, with no possibility of happiness unless she adjusted to being man’s passive object – they wanted to help women get rid of their suppressed envy, their neurotic desire to be equal. They wanted to help women find sexual fulfillment as women, by affirming their natural inferiority. After all, according to Kuspit, Freud compared women to cats who licked themselves.

But is it man’s attributes that define his identity? Or do these material belongings possess more personality, including the objectified, materialized woman. Money and technology informed all of Otto Dix’s work, in which individual presence is appropriated, and a kind of de-naturizing results in a dehumanizing  of the body. Man without his material accessories, including women in a supporting role are essentially, in the main, a mass of pretentious ego, and troubled bourgeois in which their propriety is an unstable facade. Fundamentally, little has changed.

Howard Jacobsen:The sexual instinct is a hydra-headed beast. It would be wrong of me to deny the violence which attaches to prostitution but there's more than one way of being in denial, and those who see only oppressive exploitation in the transaction between prostitute and client also fail to honour the complexities of sex. Some men might go to prostitutes to "use" them, but not all do. The exchange of money is freighted with meaning, and part of what it entails is the man's desire to hold himself cheap, to put himself at the pleading end of the power exchange, to abnegate his masculinity. Without doubt some men go to prostitutes to do them harm; but some go to harm themselves. Others, of course, go because they're desperate, and if paying money is the only way they'll find erotic company for a night, an hour, or just five minutes, then they'll pay it. And some simply go because they can, because they've nothing else to do, because they're bored and feeling hot, want nothing other than an uncomplicated good time, and intend no evil or disrespect by it. Read More:http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/howard-jacobson/howard-jacobson-to-find-only-exploitation-in-prostitution-is-a-failure-to-honour-the-complexities-of-sex-394745.html

In retrospect, one can see the Frankfurt school work as articulation of a theory of the stage of state and monopoly capitalism that became dominant during the 1930s, and is even more widespread today: a situation where the state and giant corporations managed the economy and in which individuals submitted to state and corporate control. This 30’s period is often described as “Fordism” to designate the system of mass production and the homogenizing regime of capital which wanted to produce mass desires, tastes, and behavior. It was thus an era of mass production and consumption characterized by uniformity and homogeneity of needs, thought, and behavior producing a mass society and what the Frankfurt school described as “the end of the individual.” No longer was individual thought and action the motor of social and cultural progress; instead giant organizations and institutions overpowered individuals. The echoes of this mass consumption and culture, is our defining legacy and the source of much of mass culture.

Schad. Sonja. 1928. Read More:http://www.leopoldmuseum.org/print_exhibitions_en.php?nav=2&id=3&sub=28

During this period, mass culture and communication were instrumental in generating the modes of thought and behavior appropriate to a highly organized and massified social order.The Edward Bernays school of “freedom” based on economic transaction. Thus, the Frankfurt school theory of the culture industry articulates a major historical shift to an era in which mass consumption and culture was indispensable to producing a consumer society based on homogeneous needs and desires for mass-produced products and a mass society based on social organization and homogeneity. It is culturally the era of highly controlled network radio and television, insipid top forty pop music, glossy Hollywood films, national magazines, and other mass-produced cultural artifacts. Even so called “serious” publications like Slate and Vanity Fair tend to be atrocious, generically written propaganda, albeit a few exceptions.

---1927. Metropolis. ---the motion picture tells the story of a woman from the working class that was chosen by the elite to give life to a robot, through a mix of science and Black magic....This robot becomes a sexy and alluring performer and is given the goal to corrupt the working class. Read More:http://vigilantcitizen.com/musicbusiness/lady-gaga-the-illuminati-puppet/

The recent Slutwalk is a pertinent example of this kind of superficial “dissidence” in which women are still objectified within the notion of commodity. Is the recent “slutwalk” phenomenom, any different than the objectification that the German expressionists were pointing to in all their misogyny of the “male gaze”. Is slutwalk part of the same patriarchy, the same appropriation of space within the urban setting?  Sarkeesian:I have been quite vocal in my little internet space about my strong dislike for SlutWalk, for the name and for the unstrategic organizing which sadly, seems to ignores the systemic and institutional issues of rape culture, victim blaming and well, radical feminism. It is easy to be swept up in the excitement and momentum of SlutWalk and not take a critical look at what the message really is that’s coming out of these marches. After listening to a series of interviews and reading a handful of articles, I began feeling alienated within feminism because as Meghan Murphy points out, “… embracing the word slut sounds, to me, a lot like we’ve all drank the systematic kool-aid.” Read More:http://www.feministfrequency.com/2011/05/link-round-up-feminist-critiques-of-slutwalk/ aaaa

---Harsha Walia at Rabble.ca In reality, capitalism mediates the feminist façade of choice by creating an entire industry that commodifies women’s sexuality and links a woman’s self-esteem and self-worth to fashion and beauty. Slutwalk itself consistently refuses any connection to feminism and fixates solely around liberal questions of individual choice — the palatable “I can wear what I want” feminism that is intentionally devoid of an analysis of power dynamics.--- Read More:http://www.feministfrequency.com/2011/05/link-round-up-feminist-critiques-of-slutwalk/



While traumatic suffering is explored in his last writings in terms of the destructive effects of personality dissociation, fragmentation, and splitting, in the Diary femininity becomes the occasion for imagining a possible place of reconciliation, of the acceptance of unpleasure. This place, which does not exist in Freud´s thought, is identified with a “feminine principle” that permeates nature. The capacity for suffering, acceptance, and support, in contrast to the egoistic and masculine impulse to discharge tension, which is the pleasure principle, is the essential characteristic of that “feminine principle” which Ferenczi theorizes as something elemental and having the nature of a drive, but at the same time endowed with intelligence and associated with the reality principle. This drive element constitutes itself as the feminine version of death drive. Read More:http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/american_imago/v066/66.4.martin-cabre.pdf

Read More:http://www.haverford.edu/psych/ddavis/p109g/freudfem.html
Betty Friedan:The feminine mystique derived its power from Freudian thought; for it was an idea born of Freud, which led women, and those who studied them, to misinterpret their mothers’ frustrations, and their fathers’ and brothers’ and husbands’ resentments and inadequacies, and their own emotions and possible choices in life…

gloria steinem. read more:http://truthquake.com/2009/10/23/tiffany-evans-claims-rihanna-other-celebrities-satanists-illuminati-slams-suicide-glamorizing-russian-roulette-devilish-history/

…The new mystique is much more difficult for the modern woman to question than the old prejudices, partly because the mystique is broadcast by the very agents of education and social science that are supposed to be the chief enemies of prejudice, partly because the very nature of Freudian thought makes it virtually invulnerable to question. How can an educated American woman, who is not herself an analyst, presume to question a Freudian truth? She knows that Freud’s discovery of the unconscious workings of the mind was one of the great breakthroughs in man’s pursuit of knowledge. She knows that the science built on that discovery has helped many suffering men and women. She has been taught that only after years of analytic training is one capable of understanding the meaning of Freudian truth. She may even know how the human mind unconsciously resists that truth. How can she presume to tread the sacred ground where only analysts are allowed?…

---Zizek:Returning to sexual difference, I am tempted to risk the hypothesis that the same zero-institution logic should perhaps be applied not only to the unity of a society, but also to its antagonistic split. What if sexual difference is ultimately a kind of zero-institution of the social split…the minimal zero-difference, a split that prior to signaling any determinate social difference, signals this difference as such? The struggle for hegemony would then, once again, be the struggle for how this zero- difference is over-determined by other particular social differences. It is against this background that one should read an important if overlooked feature of Lacan’s schema of the signifier. Lacan replaces he standard Saussurian scheme …with the two words “gentlemen” and “ladies” next to each other above the bar and two identical drawings of a door below the bar. In order to emphasize the differential character of the signifier, Lacan fist replaces Saussure’s single signifier with a pair of signifier: the opposition ladies and gentlemen-that is, sexual difference. But the true surprise resides in the fact that, at the level of the imaginary referent, there is no difference. Read More:http://www.scribd.com/doc/12605310/femail-rivals-feminism-lacan-and-zizek-try-to-think-of-something-new-to-say image:http://vigilantcitizen.com/musicbusiness/lady-gaga-the-illuminati-puppet/

…No one can question the basic genius of Freud’s discoveries, not the contribution he has made to our culture. Nor do I question the effectiveness of psychoanalysis as it is practised today by Freudian or anti-Freudian. But I do question, from my own experience as a woman, and my reporter’s knowledge of other women, the application of the Freudian theory of femininity to women today. I question its use, not in therapy, but as it has filtered into the lives of American women through the popular magazines and the opinions and interpretations of so-called experts. I think much of the Freudian theory about women is obsolescent, an obstacle to truth for women in America today, and a major cause of the pervasive problem that has no name….

Read More:http://themurkynews.blogspot.com/2008/06/chapter-eleven-grand-tour-of-satans.html

…There are many paradoxes here. Freud’s concept of the superego helped to free man of the tyranny of the ‘shoulds’, the tyranny of the past, which prevents the child from becoming an adult. Yet Freudian thought helped create a new super-ego that paralyses educated modern American women a new tyranny of the ‘shoulds’, which chains women to an old image, prohibits choice and growth, and denies them individual identity…

Kuspit:but they also have a strong sense of the ridiculous, conveyed by the exaggeration of details, as Dix's Prostitute Girl with Red Bow (1922) makes clear. The human body especially the female body seems inherently ridiculous to Dix, as Sweet Little Elly (1920) and Elli (1921) suggest. No classically ideal proportions here. Is Dix a misogynist, perhaps in response to the repulsive, ever-present prostitutes, evoking physical disease and social pathology? Read More:http://www.artnet.de/magazine/provocative-realism/

…Freudian psychology, with its emphasis on freedom from a repressive morality to achieve sexual fulfilment, was part of the ideology of women’s emancipation. The lasting American image of the ‘emancipated woman’ is the flapper of the twenties: burdensome hair shingled off, knees bared, flaunting her new freedom to live in a studio in Greenwich Village or Chicago’s near North Side, and drive a car, and drink, and smoke, and enjoy sexual adventures – or talk about them. And yet today, for reasons far removed from the life of Freud himself, Freudian thought has become the ideological bulwark of the sexual counter-revolution in America. Without Freud’s definition of the sexual nature of woman to give the conventional image of femininity new authority, I do not think several generations of educated, spirited American women would have been so easily diverted from the dawning realisation of who they were and what they could be.Read More:http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/us/friedan.htm

Karl Hubbuch. Swimmer of Cologne.Kuspit:The female swimmer an ironic Rhine maiden? stands on a steel bridge, barely holding her own. For all her spunkiness, she looks vulnerable and small next to the huge, well-built bridge. She is hardly its equal in strength. She's caught on the horns of a dilemma or rather trapped between the pincers of the rising girder and the platform to which it is bolted. She's all the more pathetic because the Old Germany, symbolized by a ghostly Cologne Cathedral, is pictured behind her. It exists in the space between the girder and the platform, as though about to be crushed. Certainly it is fading into oblivion a souvenir of the German medieval past. Caught between the religious past, with its old construction of reality, and the technological future, with its new construction of reality, she can only dive off the bridge into the river below. Will she survive? Read More:http://www.artnet.de/magazine/provocative-realism/ image:http://arthistory.about.com/od/from_exhibitions/ig/glitterdoom/gad_13.htm



Georges Bataille’s outlined sequel to his erotic novel Story of the Eye is pitilessly direct: “After fifteen years of more and more serious debauchery, Simone ends up in a torture camp… She dies as though making love… fever and agony transfigure her.” Pauline Réage, author of Story of O, likewise envisaged death as an alternative ending to O’s exalted degradation. But it isn’t really an alternative ending. It is the only ending. There is nowhere else for O’s eroticism to go.

You can’t mess around with sex, in life or in literature. It is never not serious. When a man denies the significance of an adultery with the line, “It didn’t matter to me,” and the wronged woman replies, “Then why did you do it?”, they both miss the point. Everything in sex matters, including the experience of its not mattering. Isn’t that what O pursues, the sensation of nothing mattering, least of all herself? And isn’t that why some men visit prostitutes, for the intense experience of abnegation associated with payment, for which next to nothing is given and next to nothing is felt? Read More:http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2008/04/howard-jacobson-sex-prostitution/
Margaret Wente:SlutWalks are what you get when graduate students in feminist studies run out of things to do. In fact, they’re flogging a dead mare. The attitude that rape victims bring it on themselves has largely (though not entirely) disappeared from mainstream society. …The highly educated young women who join SlutWalks are among the safest and most secure in the world. But you’d never know it from the fevered rhetoric. According to one widely cited scare statistic cooked up by the American Association of University Women, no fewer than 62 per cent of female students say they’ve been sexually harassed at university … The student activists at York continuously insist that their own campus is a hotbed of violence and sexual assault, for which the university administration is to blame. The only remedy is mandatory anti-oppression training for all. (In fact, Toronto’s crime rate, and also York’s, is among the lowest in the country.)

So, is violence against women a non-problem? Absolutely not. It is a very large problem in a number of Canada’s South Asian communities, including some not far from York University. Some of York’s first-generation immigrant students are no doubt safer on campus than they are in their own homes. And the pervasiveness of violence against women across the North, and in certain aboriginal communities, shocks the conscience. Read More:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/embrace-your-inner-slut-um-maybe-not/article2018828/

Read More:http://www.transformationsjournal.org/journal/issue_15/editorial.shtml

McIntosh:This whole “SlutWalk” phenomenon feels exactly like something Cartman would make up to trick his female classmates into doing. Only on South Park it would have backfired. Apparently the “SlutWalk” organizers in reality somehow don’t get that the joke is on them…… Sarkeesian:SlutWalk is to feminism what “change your light bulbs” is to environmentalism. A dead end. McIntosh:A good response should have been about the structural, institutional and systemic reasons we have a widespread rape culture. Instead slutwalk is shallow and sensationalist and does not challenge the oppression of the term or the use of it in the male dominated culture – men just get to now say “yes we love sluts” which is clearly NOT progress any way you look at it.


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