A Myth Beyond the Phallus: Female Fetishism in Kathy Acker’s Late Novels
1 Debates about feminine fetishism have now been going on for pretty much 2 full decades now; but there seems to be up to now no consensus concerning the worth of claiming this specific training for feminist politics.
Ever since Sarah Kofman’s recommendation that a reading that is derridean of 1927 essay could maybe perhaps not preclude the chance of feminine fetishism (133), “indecidability” has characterized just about any try to theorize that training. Naomi Schor’s very early suspicion that feminine fetishism may be just the “latest and a lot of subdued type of penis envy” (371) will continue to haunt efforts to delimit an especially female manifestation of a perversion commonly recognized, in psychoanalytic terms, become reserved for males. Subsequent efforts to “feminize” the fetish by Elizabeth Grosz, Emily Apter, and Teresa de Lauretis have actually reiterated Schor’s doubt concerning the subject, and none have actually dispelled entirely the shadow of this inaugural doubt. Proponents of feminine fetishism seem to have kept Baudrillard’s famous caution about fetish discourse, and its particular capability to “turn against those that make use of it” (90), securely at heart.
2 Reviewing a brief history of the debate in her own book that is recent classes:
How exactly to Do Things With Fetishism, E. L. McCallum implies that the impasse that is political on the worth of fetishism’s paradigmatic indeterminacy for feminist politics has arisen, in reality, through your time and effort to define an solely femalefetishism. In accordance with McCallum, a careful reading of Freud about the subject reveals that, “The extremely effectiveness of fetishism as a technique lies with just just how it (possibly productively) undermines the rigid matrix of binary difference that is sexual indeterminacy…. To then reinscribe fetishism within that exact same matrix–defining a man or woman fetishism–undercuts fetishism’s strategic effectiveness” (72-73). McCallum’s advocacy of the “sympathetic” epistemological return to Freud might appear a fairly ironic treatment for dilemmas about defining feminine fetishism, since those debates arose out from the have to challenge the fundamental psychoanalytic relationship between fetishism and castration. For Freud, needless to say, the fetish is built out from the young boy’s effort to disavow their mother’s obvious castration, and also to change her missing penis. In this part, it functions as being a “token of triumph within the risk of castration and a protection against it” (“Fetishism” 154). Kofman’s initial discussion of feminine fetishism arises out of her reading of Derrida’s Glas as an official dual erection, by which each textual column will act as an “originary health supplement” perhaps perhaps not determined by castration (128-29). Yet many theorists of feminine fetishism have actually followed Kofman in attacking the partnership between castration and fetishism (a exception that is notable de Lauretis), McCallum’s work to read through Freudian fetishism as a way of wearing down binary types of sex difference resonates using the techniques of an writer whoever contribution to debates about feminine fetishism moved to date unnoticed. Kathy Acker’s postmodernist fiction clearly negotiates the nagging dilemma of time for Freud’s concept of fetishism so that you can affirm the likelihood of the female fetish, and also to erode old-fashioned sexual and gender hierarchies. As a result, it offers a forum where the aspire to assert a fetishism that is specifically female face-to-face with McCallum’s sympathetic return, while additionally providing porn cam an oblique commentary in the work of Schor, Apter, and de Lauretis, whom utilize fictional texts whilst the foundation with their theoretical conclusions. Acker’s novels show proof a desire to mix a concept of feminine fetishism having a conscious practice that is fictional.