Psychoanalysis, Theory and Migraines

For my review of theoretical writings on Humanities and Sciences, I chose to reference:

Simone de Beavoir’s  ‘The Second Sex’, which focuses on the idea that women have been held in a relationship of long-lasting oppression to man through her relegation to being man’s “Other”.

Luce Irigaray’s ‘Speculum of the Other Woman’ which analyzes how women become subjects if they assimilate to male subjectivity and that a separate subject position for women does not exist. (Her goal being to uncover the absence of true sexual difference in Western Culture)


Whitney Chadwick’s ‘Women, art and society’, which re-examines works by female artists and the ways in which they have been perceived. She also discusses developments in contemporary art; how women artists have revisited and challenged earlier feminist strategies.

Beauvoir outlines how woman have been held in a relationship of oppression to man through her relegation to being man’s “Other.” She finds that the self needs otherness in order to define itself as a subject; the category of the otherness, therefore, is necessary in the constitution of the self as a self. However, the self is often just as objectified by its other as the self objectifies it.
She also tackles ways in which analysis contributes to the formulation of the myth of the “Eternal Feminine.” Myths such as of the mother, the virgin, the motherland and so on, attempt to trap woman into an ideal by denying them individualism.
Luce Irigaray declared that women have become a female subject position due to traditional associations with matter and nature and from the exclusion of women in both psychoanalysis and philosophy. She states that while women can become subjects if they assimilate to male subjectivity, a separate subject position for women does not exist. Irigaray’s goal is to reveal the nonexistence of a female subject position; the lowering of all things feminine to nature and materials; non-subjective, in contrast to men who are associated with culture and subjectivity.
Chadwick outlines pioneering psychoanalytical writings of Luce Irigaray, Helene Cixous and Julia Kristeva, which have all posed the issue of women’s “otherness” from radically different perspectives. Due to these theoretical developments, attention has been shifted away from the categories of ‘art’ and ‘artist’, to broader issues including race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender; the personal.

Identifying the ways that femininity is evidenced in representation”; “producing work which resists positioning women as an object for the male gaze” and “critiquing or transforming coercive, hierarchical structures of domination.”-Chadwick.

Women artists are now readdressing social inequalities, negotiating change and redrawing on spatial, social and subjective boundaries.

However, sometimes I wonder whether feminist analysis deconstructs the term around which it is originally and politically organized. I think that femininity and art can sometimes become self-canceling phrases.

Also, here are some references to the books if you’re interested:

  1. Chadwick.W, ‘Women, Art and Society’, Fourth Edition, 2007, Thames & Hudson Ltd, London.
  2. De Beauvoir.S, ‘The Second Sex’, 1972, Penguin Books, Hawthorn, Australia.
  3.  Irigaray.L, ‘Speculum of the Other Woman’, 1985, Cornwell University Press, New York.

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