Subjectivity: Theories of the Self from Freud to Haraway

By Nick Mansfield | Go to book overview

8 Radical sexuality: From
perverse to queer

WE HAVE ALREADY seen how gender and sexuality have been identified by modern and postmodern theorists as key determinants of subjectivity.Psychoanalysis has seen itself as overcoming silence and superstition in the scientific revelation of the true importance of the family and sexuality in the constitution of personality. On the other hand, Foucault and others have been critical of the prestige that has accrued to power/knowledge's inflexible categories of gender (you are either a man or a woman) and sexuality (you are either heterosexual or homosexual). To the former, the truth will allow us to recognise without shame the meaning of our desire. To the latter, any model of truth will re-imprison us in another tyrannical disciplinary order. Is late twentieth-century sexuality freedom or imprisonment, then; the end of a cruel dictatorship of morals and mores, or its most sophisticated version? The two strands of subjective theory we have been tracing—the psychoanalytic/subjective and the Foucauldian/anti-subjective—do not merely correspond to the two sides of this debate; they are more or less defined by the positions they take up in relation to it.

The first point to be made here is that sexuality, with which we will be concerned in this chapter, has been increasingly seen not just (or often not even) as a human attribute or impulse, but as a régime. Even Freud located the construction of subjectivity within the tightly knit power inequities of the bourgeois family, allowing each position in the Oedipal triangle to be read as a specific coordination of gender and power.In turn, even the genitals of both men and women attained a more than symbolic political meaning. The development of gay and lesbian, and latterly queer, theories of culture has only intensified the understanding of

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Subjectivity: Theories of the Self from Freud to Haraway
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Subjectivity - Theories of the Self from Freud to Haraway *
  • Series Introduction v
  • Acknowledgments viii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The Free and Autonomous Individual 13
  • 2: Freud and the Split Subject 25
  • 3: Lacan: The Subject is Language 38
  • 4: Foucault: The Subject and Power 51
  • 5: Femininity 66
  • 6: Kristeva and Abjection 79
  • 7: Masculinity 92
  • 8: Radical Sexuality 105
  • 9: Subjectivity and Ethnicity 118
  • 10: Deleuze and Guattari 136
  • 11: The Subject and Technology 148
  • 12: The Subject and Postmodernism 162
  • 13: Conclusion 174
  • Glossary 181
  • Bibliography 186
  • Index 193
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