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Feminist And Political Applications Of Jouissance

Feminists and cultural critics have appropriated Lacan's term and refined it for their own purposes. Among feminists, jouissance is most often used by French feminists. The two most prominent are Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray. Similarly to Lacan, both also discuss a specifically feminine jouissance, related to the mother and woman's body. Kristeva views jouissance as bound up with the maternal and the semiotic chora and views art as "the flow of jouissance into language" (p. 79). Irigaray, in a manner almost as cryptic as Lacan's, also claims that women experience two types of jouissance: a phallic one and one "more in keeping with their bodies and their sex" (p. 45).

In terms of the political, theorists such as Slavoj Žižek and Tim Dean have picked up on Lacan's remarks in Television regarding racism, the melting pot, and the jouissance of the Other to view social problems such as ethnic hatred or homophobia as motivated by resentment of the (ethnically or sexually) Other's jouissance.



Irigaray, Luce. "The Bodily Encounter with the Mother." Translated by David Macey. In The Irigaray Reader, edited by Margaret Whitford, 34–46. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1991.

Kristeva, Julia. Revolution in Poetic Language. Translated by Margaret Waller. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984.

Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Translated by Alan Sheridan. New York: W. W. Norton, 1977.

——. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book I: Freud's Papers on Technique 1953-54. Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller. Translation and notes by John Forrester. New York: W. W. Norton, 1988.

——. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis 1956-1960. Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller. Translation and notes by Dennis Porter. New York: W. W. Norton, 1992.

——. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book XX: Encore. On Feminine Sexuality: The Limits of Love and Knowledge 1972–73. Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller. Translation and notes by Bruce Fink. New York: W. W. Norton, 1998.

——. Television: A Challenge to the Psychoanalytic Establishment. Edited by Joan Copjec. Translated by Denis Hollier, Rosalind Krauss, Annette Michelson, and Jeffrey Melhman. New York: W. W. Norton, 1990.


Dean, Tim. Beyond Sexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Evans, Dylan. "From Kantian Ethics to Mystical Experience: An Exploration of Jouissance." In Key Concepts of Lacanian Psychoanalysis, edited by Dany Nobus, 1–28. New York: Other Press, 1998.

Žižek, Slavoj. For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a Political Factor. New York: Verso, 1991.

——. Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan Through Popular Culture. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1991.

Brenda L. Bethman

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Intuitionist logic to KabbalahJouissance - Lacan's Early Work: Jouissance As Pleasure, Lacan's Work Of The Late 1950s And 1960s: Jouissance Versus Pleasure