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There Are Two Sexes

There Are Two Sexes: Essays in Feminology

antoinette fouque
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    There Are Two Sexes
    Book Description:

    Antoinette Fouque cofounded the Mouvement de Libération des Femmes (MLF) in France in 1968 and spearheaded its celebrated Psychanalyse et Politique, a research group that informed the cultural and intellectual heart of French feminism. Rather than reject Freud's discoveries on the pretext of their phallocentrism, Fouque sought to enrich his thought by more clearly defining the difference between the sexes and affirming the existence of a female libido. By recognizing women's contribution to humanity, Fouque hoped "uterus envy," which she saw as the mainspring of misogyny, could finally give way to gratitude and by associating procreation with women's liberation she advanced the goal of a parity-based society in which men and women could write a new human contract.

    The essays, lectures, and dialogues in this volume finally allow English-speaking readers to access the breadth of Fouque's creativity and activism. Touching on issues in history and biography, politics and psychoanalysis, Fouque recounts her experiences running the first women's publishing house in Europe; supporting women under threat, such as Aung San Suu Kyi, Taslima Nasrin, and Nawal El Saadaoui; and serving as deputy in the European Parliament. Her theoretical explorations discuss the ongoing development offeminology, a field she initiated, and, while she celebrates the progress women have made over the past four decades, she also warns against the trends of counterliberation: the feminization of poverty, the persistence of sexual violence, and the rise of religious fundamentalism.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53838-1
    Subjects: Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Jean-Joseph Goux

    Antoinette Fouque’s work should have been introduced to English-language readers much earlier. It is highly regrettable that the vigorous American debate over French feminism, or, more broadly, over the question of gender, has not benefited from Fouque’s original, coherent, and persistent thinking. For several decades now, American feminists, or, to take a wider view, women’s studies programs, have analyzed, debated, supported, or contested, after Simone de Beauvoir’s contributions, those of Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous, and Monique Wittig. Although it is fair to say that Fouque, through her actions, speeches, and writings, has been the chief inspirational force behind...

  4. Preface to the First Edition
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Preface to the Second Edition
    (pp. xvii-xxxii)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxxiii-xxxiv)
  7. Note on the Translation
    (pp. xxxv-xxxviii)
  8. 1. Our Movement Is Irreversible March 8, 1989
    (pp. 1-9)

    Today, March 8, 1989, we meet in the Sorbonne’s great amphitheater to celebrate two events:

    —March 8, International Women’s Day, now celebrated everywhere in the world;

    —1989, the bicentennial of the French Revolution and of the Declaration of the Rights of Man.

    On March 8, 1857, in New York, seamstresses went into the streets to denounce the exploitation of which they were victims. They demanded reduced working hours (from sixteen to ten hours a day!) and wages equal to those of men.

    In 1910 Clara Zetkin proposed that March 8 should be International Women’s Day, in homage to...

  9. 2. Women in Movements—Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow April 1990
    (pp. 10-33)

    Le Débat: Unlike many post-’68 political actors and some of your sisters in the Women’s Movement, you have kept quiet. We know little about you. You are a legendary figure—a vivid reminder of the most outspoken wing of the MLF, the Psychanalyse et Politique group,¹ and yet a mystery . . .

    Antoinette Fouque: I wonder whether, even today, anything having to do with origins, which are always mythical, anything that remains of some primordial orality, of the mute word, isn’t seen as mysterious. Lacan used to say that to speak is to play the fool (parler, c’est déconner).²...

  10. 3. There Are Two Sexes 1990
    (pp. 34-54)

    One is born a girl or a boy. I was born a girl, on October 1, 1936, to a brilliant, illiterate mother and to an active militant in the Popular Front. The day of my birth the flames went out: Franco seized power in Spain.

    My mother: I occupied her from the moment of conception, January 1, 1936 (for the Chinese, conception has the value of birth); hence I experienced the Popular Front in her, through her, and also through her anger over this third pregnancy, imposed on her as she neared her fortieth year. She had been a tomboy,...

  11. 4. Does Psychoanalysis Have an Answer for Women? April 2, 1991
    (pp. 55-59)

    Passages: To begin at the beginning, so to speak, what is your personal contribution to psychoanalysis?

    Antoinette Fouque: My contribution may lie in my insistence on asking analytic theory a few questions; naturally enough, these questions contain the outline of some answers. Why, for example, does the only scientific discourse on sexuality, psychoanalytic discourse, assert, from Freud to Lacan, that there is only one libido, and that it is “essentially male” or “phallic,” when there are obviously, in reality, two sexes? Might not this phallic monism, which is more contaminated by the vir than analysts themselves might like to admit—...

  12. 5. The Plague of Misogyny June 7, 1991
    (pp. 60-67)

    Thank you for inviting me to this conference to speak about a very specific racism—the one with which I am most familiar because I have always been its object and its witness. This is a racism so old, so familiar in human history and in the history of every human being that its victims had scarcely begun to shake off its yoke, to break the silence surrounding it, twenty years ago, at a time when I was already over thirty and had reached the canonical age at which, according to Balzac, a woman no longer exists.

    I feel very...

  13. 6. And If We Were to Speak of Women’s Powerlessness? 1991
    (pp. 68-74)

    To speak of the power of women in France, where their presence in positions of political power is so negligible, would almost be a joke. The statistics are quite damning; France very clearly brings up the rear in this particular area. Moreover, just as a single swallow does not make a summer, the presence of a woman as French prime minister, despite the indisputable symbolic effect of this presidential initiative, does not represent a rapid transformation of reality. In fact, there are no more women in Edith Cresson’s government now than there were in that of her predecessor, Michel Rocard....

  14. 7. “It Is Not Power That Corrupts But Fear”: Aung San Suu Kyi 1991
    (pp. 75-79)

    On October 24, 1991, for the sixth time in its history, the Nobel Prize was awarded to a woman. And for the first time in its history—thanks to this same woman—it was awarded to a Burmese. A few months prior to the announcement of the award, on July 19, 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi had received the Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament. Unfortunately, she wasn’t there to receive it. Aung San Suu Kyi is under house arrest, but even this expression delicately conceals the fact that she is being kept in absolute solitary confinement somewhere in Burma,...

  15. 8. My Freud, My Father 1992
    (pp. 80-82)

    If I try to conjure up his image, I see double. So I focus my vision and two photos appear, superimposed in a single image. He is a small man, refined, even elegant in appearance. Outdoors he always wears a hat. He is a man of another generation. His gaze is piercing, painful; it is at once the gaze of a man and that of a dog. I create this tension by superimposing two portraits by the same painter: the man-fruit and the man-book by Arcimboldo. One is the handsome Alexis, Virgil’s faithful shepherd. The other, my father, is the...

  16. 9. From Liberation to Democratization July 1, 1992
    (pp. 83-88)

    Appearing before you today to defend a doctorat d’État based upon a body of work produced during a career of almost twenty-five years spent outside the university, in a place where the university may often have come in for criticism, may look to some like an act of defiance or even provocation.

    They forget the multiple administrative, symbolic, historical, political, friendly, and emotional ties that have bound me to the university for much longer than that.

    It was at the University of Aix-Marseille that I received my initial (literary) education. It was in that institutional context that I became a...

  17. 10. Our Editorial Policy Is a Poethics September 1992
    (pp. 89-93)

    There is no difference between the translation policy of the publishing house Des femmes and an editorial project that was itself originally part of the strategy of the Women’s Liberation Movement (MLF), organized around Psychanalyse et Politique, and is now part of the strategy of the Women’s Alliance for Democracy.¹ Or, rather, the only difference is that the field covered by our translation policy is more specific, while that of the movement is broader.

    One of my first preoccupations as a political activist was to organize an international colloquium (at La Tranche-sur-Mer in June 1972). It seemed to me that,...

  18. 11. Dialogue with Isabelle Huppert December 15, 1993
    (pp. 94-112)

    Isabelle Huppert: I’ve been wanting to meet you, just as I wanted to meet Nathalie Sarraute. I’ve wanted the issue ofCahiers du cinémathat I’ve taken on to be open, not just about film.

    Antoinette Fouque: First of all, let me thank you. I found your offer very touching. Give or take a few years, you could be my daughter. Feminists of my generation have often been criticized for not having passed anything on. Your wish to meet suggests to me that it has been possible to pass something on, that something has been transmitted. I’m grateful to you...

  19. 12. Recognitions March 9, 1994
    (pp. 113-121)

    The cultural education I received in secondary school, and my early apprenticeships—which, to be more specific, echoed two texts I studied in ninth grade (classe de troisième)—inspired in me, as an aftereffect of a precocious childhood curiosity, a sort of vocation for research, for seeking to learn in order to know and seeking to understand in order to live. The first text wasIl vecchio scolaro(“The Perpetual Student”), by a late-nineteenth-century author (was it Pascoli or Fogazzaro?), and the second was Montaigne’s Essays , and especially the text that I would retitle “On Fainting as Experience.”¹


  20. 13. Wartime Rapes March 14, 1994
    (pp. 122-125)

    They tell us that Sarajevo has been liberated, but they also tell us that mortars are still pounding several regions in the former Yugoslavia, and we, the European women of France, less than fifteen hundred kilometers away from that country, know that hundreds, thousands, of our sisters there are still being held in camps where they are being raped and impregnated by force.

    On March 8, 1994, International Women’s Day, the Tresnjevka feminist group in Zagreb, acting on the initiative of Nina Kadic, called upon the International Criminal Tribunal (created on May 25, 1993, by the United Nations) to judge...

  21. 14. Religion, Women, Democracy March 19, 1994
    (pp. 126-132)

    More than a century ago, the visionary Jules Ferry predicted a free and modern culture for girls. In a vibrant speech on the need to educate girls at a time when they were limited to church schools, where they received a rudimentary and discriminatory education, he said: “The bishops know very well that whoever controls women controls everything. Women must either belong to Science or belong to the Church.”¹

    A few decades later, Freud undertook a rigorous deconstruction of what he called the religious illusion—an infantile fiction based upon the pleasure principle and man’s narcissistic omnipotence—inThe Future...

  22. 15. Our Bodies Belong to Us: Dialogue with Taslima Nasrin June 1994
    (pp. 133-137)

    Antoinette Fouque: The fatwa that threatens your life was pronounced by the fundamentalists because you dared to criticize the apartheid that Islam inflicts on women.

    Taslima Nasrin: I became aware of discrimination between men and women as a child. My brothers could go out, but I couldn’t. This discrimination leaves its mark on all women. They are constantly kept under guard; they are guarded by their fathers until they reach adolescence, then by their husbands, and finally by their sons. Many women have, like me, been to university and have jobs, but they are kept shut up in the workplace...

  23. 16. Homage to Serge Leclaire October 23, 1994
    (pp. 138-142)

    Serge Leclaire, my friend.

    Someone said to me recently that there are no friends in politics. Are there any friends in psychoanalysis? In my case, there was one friend: you. From the very beginning, you honored me with your friendship, and I was as proud of it as I was intimidated by it. Thanks to your good offices I very quickly accepted the risks and the pleasures involved, without ever becoming accustomed to them. And today, I thank Geneviève Leclaire, who has done me the honor of inviting me to talk about you here.

    I met you as you were...

  24. 17. How to Democratize Psychoanalysis? October 24, 1994
    (pp. 143-148)

    Passages: What gave you the idea of setting up the research group known as Psychanalyse et Politique as soon as the Women’s Liberation Movement was born?

    Antoinette Fouque: You probably don’t know this, because it has been forgotten, but when the Women’s Movement first began, most of the women involved, and especially those who called themselves feminists, would have nothing to do with psychoanalysis. In their view Freud was just a horrible male chauvinist.

    As I have often said, the ideology of masculinity that was holding back the psychoanalytic revolution was not enough to make me reject such an instrument...

  25. 18. Democracy and Its Discontents January 21, 1995
    (pp. 149-151)

    Almost seventy years ago, it occurred to Freud that religion is “like the obsessional neurosis of children” and that its roots lie in a nostalgic and powerful need for “the protection . . . provided by the father.” He contrasts religious fi ction with a “sense of reality” and with trust in rationality and a science that is imperfect but in movement and making progress.¹

    After fourteen years of Socialist government, which I have described elsewhere as the republic of sons, the reemergence—via the conservative candidate (Jacques Chirac) who seems best placed to win the presidential election—of “the...

  26. 19. Tomorrow, Parity March 8, 1995
    (pp. 152-178)

    International Women’s Day takes on its full historical meaning today if we recall that it was proposed and instituted by Clara Zetkin in this very place in 1910.

    From the beginning of the century, this celebration has punctuated critical and often tragic moments of our history: in 1914 and 1915 in France, in Germany, in Oslo women demonstrated against the war; in 1917, in Petrograd, against czarism; starting in 1937, in Spain, in Italy, and in Ravensbrück in 1945 against fascism; in 1974, in Saigon, against the American occupation. During the 1970s, taking advantage of the women’s liberation movements in...

  27. 20. Women and Europe 1997
    (pp. 179-182)

    The Treaty of Rome is forty years old. For forty years its very famous article 119 has served as the basis for the European construction of the principle of equality between men and women. Seven directives, five recommendations, three decisions, twelve resolutions, the implementation of action programs, the adoption of codes of conduct, and the large number of precedents established by the Court of Justice have allowed us to make the transition from the principle of equal pay to the principles of equal treatment and equality of opportunity in the labor market and have had a direct and determining influence...

  28. 21. If This Is a Woman September 24, 1999
    (pp. 183-191)

    This text never stops being written. Ended, it remains endless. It comes off the telex machines, interminably, every day crueler than the last. It is the text of the human tragedy of the condition of women. I have written it a hundred times, and others have written it at the same time. This is not writing; at the very most it is a transcript of the daily hell in which women have lived for all eternity, all over the world.

    Why so many murders, why so much hatred, why so much suffering? In these questions, which lie at the root...

  29. 22. They’re Burning a Woman October 9, 2002
    (pp. 192-194)

    You will, of course, be aware of the “incident” that occurred in Vitry-sur-Seine on October 4, 2002: the murder of Sohane, the seventeen-year-old girl who was burned alive in the trash bin area of an apartment complex on the outskirts of Paris. She was taken there by force and put into a bin by a lover she had rejected. He had the support of several boys from the neighborhood.

    On the same day a young man of North African origin was shot dead by a drunken maniac in Dunkirk. That act was immediately, and quite rightly, described as a racist...

  30. 23. What Is a Woman? 2008
    (pp. 195-214)

    The real, the living (le vivant): this is what was at stake at the beginning of the MLF.¹ This is why it is so hard to document its history. One would have to be a poet more than an academic, afeminologistmore than a feminist, to depict the fecundity of its birth and its early years, the outpouring and liberation of life. One would have to prefer “intimacy with the world of living women,” one would have to produce an opera, the opera of women at work, to write the story of these years of creation. Rather than taking...

  31. 24. Gestation for Another, Paradigm of the Gift 2009
    (pp. 215-232)

    Le Débat: A lot of ink has been spilled already on the subject of gestation for another person. You see it as a further stage in the Women’s Liberation Movement (MLF).¹ In what respect?

    Antoinette Fouque: To me it actually represents a third stage, just as important as the first two: the fight for abortion and the fight for parity.

    In this very space, when we first met,² I said that during my own pregnancy, in 1964, the process of gestation had set me thinking about the difference between the sexes. Procreation struck me as the key issue to be...

  32. 25. Gravida 1980
    (pp. 233-260)

    Here in Quebec we rarely hear a critique of feminism as a simple ambition to share an unchanged power with men. Gravida seeks to undertake such a critical approach, among others. This appears indispensable now that feminism has become a major cultural phenomenon.

    In the interview that follows, “feminism” must be read as a demand to share in masculine power, or even an ambition to dominate within sites of power, without any radical challenge to that power itself, to its origins or its political and libidinal economies.

    Groups of women and some men in Quebec are now working with the...

  33. Notes
    (pp. 261-294)
  34. Biographical Notes
    (pp. 295-298)
  35. Index
    (pp. 299-311)