Luce Irigaray was born in 1932. She is a Belgian philosopher, linguist and psychoanalyst who has been influential in the areas of classical, medieval and early modern literature and culture. In addition, she has been a notable figure within Anglo-American studies, gender studies and philosophy. Her main influences have been Sigmund Freud, Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida.
Luce Irigaray was educated at the University of Leuven and received her master's degree in the area of philosophy and arts in 1955, earned a Master's degree in psychology in 1961 from the University of Paris and in 1968, Luce Irigaray earned a doctorate in linguistics. She received an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from the University of London and in 2008, received an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from University College, London. Her early publications concerned studies regarding dementia and schizophrenia. Irigaray does not like to reveal too much biographical information about herself as she believes that revealing too much personal information is used to discredit otherwise credible thoughts and works written and expressed by academic women.
She is a trained and practicing psychoanalyst and has been a professor at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique de Paris since 1964. She is currently in private practice and holds the position of Director of Research in Philosophy at the Centre. While studying at the Ecole Freudienne de Paris (Freudian School of Paris) a controversial moment in her early career occurred when Irigaray published a thesis entitled Speculum de l'autre femme (Speculum of the Other Woman). This thesis criticized the phallocentrism of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis. As a result of this thesis, she was expelled from her teaching post at the University of Vincennes. Despite these early obstacles in Irigaray's career, she became a leading influential voice in contemporary feminist theory. She has focused a major aspect of her work on critiquing Freud's psychoanalytic theories regarding gender assumptions.
Luce Irigaray has classified her work into three phases: criticizing the masculine subject, creating a feminine subject and exploring intersubjectivity. She has been quoted as saying the following with respect to these phases: "[regarding the first phase] It was the phase in which I showed how a single subject, traditionally the masculine subject, had constructed the world according to a single perspective." In the second phase she defined "those mediations that could permit the existence of a feminine subjectivity -- that is to say, another subject." And the third she sees as "trying to define a new model of possible relations between man and woman, without submission of either one to the other."
She has said with respect to the differences between men and women, one should consider their desires and focuses on sexuality. She suggests that men use one sense in sexuality, which would be vision, focusing on the visual phallus aspect of desire, while the female focuses on all the senses, such as gaze and touch. In her book The Sex That is Not One an erotic scene in a book or movie would be a focus on the entire experience rather than a single climax. It would focus on the sensuality and pleasure of the experience in addition to changing emotions and sensations.
Another topic which Irigaray has spoken at length on is economic justice for women. She argues that in order for women to be considered equals amongst men, they first must achieve social equality and justice. She states that women "are caught in a double bind between the minimum of social rights they can obtain and the social and psychological price they have to pay for that minimum." She argues that women must not beg for a small "piece of the pie" with respect to the male-dominated working world by passing themselves off as "half-formed men," but rather "obtain the right to work and earn wages as civil persons."