Exposing Foundations: Psychoanalysis and Gender in Mulvey and Butler
Woman… stands in patriarchal culture as signifier for the male other, bound by a symbolic order in which man can live out his phantasies and obsessions through linguistic command by imposing them on the image of woman still tied in her place as bearer of meaning, not maker of meaning. 6
In “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (1975), Laura Mulvey points out that psychoanalytic theory can “advance our understanding of the status quo, of the patriarchal order in which we are caught” (2). To understand why woman is only “the bearer of meaning, not the maker of meaning” in this order, I will turn to a very small fraction of Lacan’s psychoanalytic philosophy. Here we find that …show more content…
Thus, in doing gender, one does not move beyond this context, but instead gender identity is “performatively constituted by the very “expressions” that are said to be its result” (55). Gender, for Butler, is “the repeated stylization of the body, a set of repeated acts within a highly rigid regulatory frame,” it is something fluid that congeals over time “to produce the appearance of substance, of a natural sort of being” (63). In this sense, one can never become woman because there is no ontological ‘woman’; it is a “substantive appearance” (64). Butler uses the example of drag to illustrate how it disrupts the “very distinctions between the natural and the artificial, depth and surface, inner and outer through which discourse about genders almost always operates” (27). Drag is not an imitation of true gender, but an act that exposes foundational categories that create the notion of gender as an effect of a “specific formation of power” (27). Drag troubles gender, so to …show more content…
The question, then, is not how to get around the patriarchal order, but how to use it to one’s advantage by understanding its workings. In light of all this, it is interesting to (re)consider Signification. Henry Louis Gates argued that revising the term ‘signification’ in black vernacular language was so revolutionary because it challenged the meaning of meaning. Here, also, the discursive context is not refused; instead Signification demonstrates that a “simultaneous, but negated [, perpendicular] discursive (ontological, political) universe exists” (49) within the white discursive context. If black is a signifier of white similar to the way woman is a signifier of man, could a similar revolutionary act of re-signification for ‘woman’ be achieved within the patriarchal order (perhaps by revising the meaning of the symbolic phallus as the signifier that inaugurates signification)? Also, could Queer theory be said to have already attempted something in this
-I will be concentrating on the different, even contradictory, ways people invoked the discourse of civilization to construct what it meant to be a man.” (p. 25) She argues that the specific aspects of discourse of civilizations are race, gender and power. The author uses different people to prove her thesis. She does this to illustrate different views of manhood in different times and also genders.
The very nature of SF allows gender identities to be challenged and redefined. The authors, Octavia Butler and James Tiptree Jr. have created texts, which accomplish this. Butler’s Bloodchild, reverses male and female reproductive roles in order to bring light to current gender roles
Consequently, as illustrated in chapter one, Butler proposes in “Imitation and Gender Insubordination” (1998), that “gender is a kind of imitation for which there is no original” (722). Therefore, Elaine demonstrates how playing with girls was not a natural for her instead it is something she had to learn to do. Elaine states that: “Playing with girls is different and at first I feel strange as I do it, self-conscious, as if I’m doing an imitation of a girl. But soon I get more used to it.” (CE 57).
For many centuries in our society women have been confined into a stereotypical idea of a patriarchal society. In today 's society the idea isn’t as much viewed upon with all the rights women have been given, but the concept still lingers in some of men 's minds. More so, than today, in the 19th century women were obligated to abide to the principle of gender roles and a male dominated culture. Women were seen as to be a slave and to act a certain way towards men as well as be able to gratify man 's lust of expectations of a perfect woman. These presumptions of women had been very much portrayed in short story , The Chaser by John Collier, in which a boy name Alan Austen seeks for a love potion from an old man, for a girl he likes name Diana.
Gender itself is a very complex concept to understand and portray onscreen, the concept of gender performativity was introduced by Judith butler in her book Gender Trouble: Gender Performance and Performativity. It is important to note that Butler
Alison dreams to live in the world of masculinity that was shown through her father. “I had recently discovered some of Dad’s old clothes. Putting on a formal shirt with its studs and cufflinks was a nearly mystical pleasure, like finding myself fluent in a language I’d never been taught” (Bechdel 182). Here Bechdel shows masculinity through the descriptions and illustrations of her father’s attire. From her novel, she shows the audience how the appearance of masculinity can grant one strength and one the illusion of power.
Octavia Butler is an Afrofuturist, science fiction author who writes many dystopian stories that allude to questions about gender, social structures, and an individual’s ability to control her body and sexuality. When people think of speculative and science fiction they tend to think of nerdy white men writing stories about space and light sabers, but Octavia Butler challenges this stereotype herself by being one of the few African American women in this genre. In Octavia Butler’s speculative fiction short story “Speech Sounds” there is a reversal of gender roles and a strong idea of feminism that is portrayed through the main character Rye. There is also the use of simile and metaphor to help point out flaws in the social structure of the story and the world of the reader.
This is suggested by Helen Simpson who stated that Carter centralises ‘latent content of fairy-tale’ is that women are objects of male desire hence patriarchal discourse establishes male supremacy to which Carter does this to challenge contemporary perspectives on the place of women by revealing the oppression that society inflicted. The Marquis is an overt example of male ownership of female bodies. Similarly, where Atwood exposes the harsh realities of oppressive patriarchy through the female body, Carter utilises the construct of the Marquis in the eponymous story ‘The Bloody Chamber’ as a grotesque embodiment of patriarchal control. In her essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ Laura Mulvey coined the feminist term ‘male gaze.’ She argues that men are the audience and women are to embody the male perspective of women as objects of satisfaction.
In her feminist film theory essay, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema", Laura Mulvey uses psychoanalysis to criticize and scrutinize the fetishism, scopophilia, and eroticism in Hollywood mainstream cinema. What Daughters of the Dust executes impeccably roots from radically abandoning the cultural conventions that depict women as subservient and submissive to patriarchal
(Bodenner, 2016). Many theories have surfaced since women have started their fight for empowerment and equality, and one of the most famous theory is “the Male Gaze” theory, founded by Laura Mulvey in her essay, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” This essay will look into the sources of opposition the theory of “male gaze” faces, and how the theory is disrupted by other possible theories or pieces of media. As mentioned before, the Male Gaze theory was introduced in the essay Mulvey wrote in 1975.
Introduction Sigmund Freud is the great theorist of the mysteries of the human mind and a founder of the psychoanalysis theory which was formed in the 1800s, the theory is well known for accessing self-identity and the self in different ways in order to discover their different meaning, (Elliott, 2015). Buss (2008) states that Sigmund’s theory of Psychoanalysis offers a unique controversial insight into how the human mind works in a way that, this theory provided a new approach to psychotherapy, thus it means that it provided a new treatment for psychological problems that even highly qualified doctors couldn’t even cure. (Buss, 2008) According to Cloninger (2013), Erik Erikson on the other hand is the founder of the psychoanalytic-social Perspective which is mostly referred to as psychosocial development theory, Erikson became interested in child development when he met Anna Freud and he trained in psychoanalysis and with his Montessori diploma, he become one of the most influential psychologist of the 20th century.
“Doing Gender” by West and Zimmerman is similar to Butler’s “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution.” However, West and Zimmerman build upon the ideas that Butler puts forth. Butler focuses on gender as performance and how gender is made up by specific actions. While West and Zimmerman take the concept of performance and constitution and applies it to a new concept, the sex category and how sex categories and gender are intertwined in society. Sex categories and gender, according to West and Zimmerman, are different and interconnected.
In the drama “The Shape of Things”, Neil LaBute explores gender roles and exposes alternative visions of power, control and morality in human relationships. The drama narrates the physical and behavioral transformation of Adam, a part-time museum guard who is subject to the manipulation and control of a radical artist named Evelyn Ann Thompson. This essay will demonstrate that Adam is not responsible for his transformation, and that he is a victim of Evelyn’s manipulation and control. Gender reversal is one of the techniques employed by the author that allows the reader to perceive the character of Adam as a victim. In the beginning of the play, LaBute switches traditional gender roles by portraying Evelyn as a dominant figure and Adam as a passive character.