Alice Doesn’t: Feminism, Semiotics, Cinema by Teresa de de Lauretis

By Teresa de de Lauretis

"There is infrequently a web page during this selection of hard-thought and brilliantly written essays that doesn't yield a few new insight." ―Hayden White

"... de Lauretis’s writing is brisk and refreshingly lucid." ―International movie Guide

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Again, as for Levi-Strauss, the point of enunciation (and term of reference) of desire, drive, and symbolization is a masculine one. For, even though castration is to be understood as referring strictly to the symbolic dimension, its signifier-the phallus--can only be conceived as an extrapolation from the real body. ' 3 Despite repeated statements by Lacan(ians) that the phallus is not the penis, the context of the terms I have emphasized in the quotation makes it clear that desire and signification are defined ultimately as a process inscribed in the male body, since they are dependent on the initial-and pivotal-experiencing of one's penis, on having a penis.

It has, however, something to· do with a text not cited directly, but whose presence here, as in much feminist writing, is due to our historical memory: Sheila Rowbotham's Woman's Consciousness, Man's World. 40 In Part I, also entitled "Through the Looking-Glass," Rowbotham describes her own struggle as a woman with and against revolutionary marxism, which was dominated by what she calls the "male nonexperience" of the specific material situation of women. She could be speaking for many others indeed when she says: "When women's liberation burst about my ears I suddenly saw ideas which had been roaming hopelessly round my head coming out in the shape of other people-women-people.

Desire, like symbolization, is a property of men, property in both senses of the word: something men own, possess, and something that inheres in men, like a quality. We read: The emergence of symbolic thought must have required that women, like words, should be things that were exchanged. , as the means of binding others through alliance with them. 10 Who speaks in this text? 'emergence de Ia pensee symbolique," and the verbs are impersonal in form as if a pure language-scientifically Through the Looking-Glass I 21 hypothetical, value-free, and subject-less-were speaking.

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