Author(s): Luce Irigaray
Speculum of the Other Woman by Luce Irigaray is incontestably one of the most important works in feminist theory to have been published in this generation. For the profession of psychoanalysis, Irigaray believes, female sexuality has remained a "dark continent," unfathomable and unapproachable; its nature can only be misunderstood by those who continue to regard women in masculine terms. In the first section of the book, "The Blind Spot of an Old Dream of Symmetry," Irigaray rereads Freud's essay "Femininity," and his other writings on women, bringing to the fore the masculine ideology implicit in psychoanalytic theory and in Western discourse in general: woman is defined as a disadvantaged man, a male construct with no status of her own.
In the last section, "Plato's Hystera," Irigaray reinterprets Plato's myth of the cave, of the womb, in an attempt to discover the origins of that ideology, to ascertain precisely the way in which metaphors were fathered that henceforth became vehicles of meaning, to trace how woman came to be excluded from the production of discourse. Between these two sections is "Speculum"-ten meditative, widely ranging, and freely associational essays, each concerned with an aspect of the history of Western philosophy in its relation to woman, in which Irigaray explores woman's essential difference from man.
THE BLIND SPOT OF AN OLD DREAM OF SYMMETRY Woman, Science's Unknown How Can They Immediately Be So Sure?; The Anatomical Model; A Science That Still Cannot Make Up Its Mind; A Question of Method; What Is Involved in (Re) production, and How It Aids and Abets the Phallic Order; A Difference Not Taken into Account; The Labor "to Become a Woman" The Little Girl Is (Only) a Little Boy An Inferior Little Man; The Cards Turned Over; The Dream Interpreters Themselves; Penis Masturbation: A Necessarily Phallic Auto-eroticism; The Change of "Object" or the Crisis of a Devaluation; The Law of the Self-same Is Her End in Her Beginning? An Unsuspected Love; The Desire to Have a Child by the Mother; The Father's Seduction: Law but Not Sex; The "Reasons" Why a Girl Hates Her Mother and a Boy Goes on Loving His; An Economy of Primal Desire That Cannot Be Represented; One More Child Another "Cause"-Castration As Might Be Expected; The Gaze, Always at Stake; Anatomy Is "Destiny"; What the Father's Discourse Covers Up; The Negative in Phallocentric Dialectic; Is Working Out the Death Drives Limited to Men Only? "Penis-Envy" Waiting in Vain; An Indirect Sublimation; "Envy" or "Desire" for the Penis?; Repression, or Inexorable Censorship?; Mimesis Imposed A Painful Way to Become a Woman And the Father, Neutral and Benevolent, Washes His Hands of the Matter; A (Female) A-Sex?; Is the Oedipus Complex Universal or Not?; Free Association on Onanism A Very Black Sexuality? Symptoms Almost Like Those of Melancholia; A Setback She Cannot Mourn; That Open Wound That Draws Everything to Itself; That Necessary Remainder: Hysteria The Penis = the Father's Child The Primacy of Anal Erotism; Those Party to a Certain Lease; Woman Island Also Mother; Forbidden Games; The Hymen of Oedipus, Father and Son The Deferred Action of Castration Capitalism without Complexes; The Metaphorical Veil of the Eternal Feminine; The Other Side of History; The Submission of a Slave?; A Super-ego That Rather Despises the Female Sex An Indispensable Wave of Passivity A Redistribution of Partial Instincts, Especially Sadistic-anal Instincts; "There Is Only One Libido"; Idealization, What Is One's Own; The (Re)productive Organ; Confirmation of Frigidity Female Hom(m)osexuality The "Constitutional Factor" Is Decisive; Homosexual Choice Clearly Expounded; A Cure Fails for Lack of Transference(s); Female Sameness An Impracticable Sexual Relationship An Ideal Love; Were It Not for Her Mother?; Or Her Mother-in-law?; Squaring the Family Circle; Generation Gap, or Being Historically out of Phase?; Woman's Enigmatic Bisexuality "Woman Is a Woman as a Result of a Certain Lack of Characteristics" An Ex-orbitant Narcissism; The Vanity of a Commodity; The Shame That Demands Vicious Conformity; Women Have Never Invented Anything but Weaving; A Very Envious Nature; Society Holds No Interest for Women; A Fault in Sublimation; "La Femme de Trente Ans" SPECULUM Any Theory of the "Subject" Has Always Been Appropriated by the "Masculine" Kore: Young Virgin, Pupil of the Eye On the Index of Plato's Works: Woman How to Conceive (of) a Girl Une Mere de Glace "... and if, taking the eye of a man recently dead ... " La Mysterique Paradox A Priori The Eternal Irony of the Community Volume-Fluidity PLATO'S Hysteria The Stage Setup Turned Upside-down and Back-to-front; Special Status for the Side Opposite; A Fire in the Image of a Sun; The Forgotten Path; Paraphragm/Diaphragm; The Magic Show; A Waste of Time?; A Specular Cave The Dialogues One Speaks, the Others Are Silent; Like Ourselves, They Submit to a Like Principle of Identity; Provided They Have a Head, Turned in the Right Direction; What Is = What They See, and Vice Versa; The A-letheia, a Necessary Denegation among Men; Even Her Voice Is Taken Away from Echo; A Double Topographic Error, Its Consequences The Avoidance of (Masculine) Hysteria A Hypnotic Method; That Buries and Forbids "Madness"; A Remainder of Aphasia; The Misprison of Difference; The Unreflected Dazzle of Seduction The "Way Out" of the Cave The "Passage"; A Difficult Delivery; Then Whence and How Does He Get Out?; A World Peopled by Ghosts The Time Needed to Focus and Adjust the Vision Impossible to Turn Back (or Over); Were It Not, Right Now, for a Sophistry Played with Doubles; A Frozen Nature; The Auto ... Taken in by the A-letheia; Bastard or Legitimate Offspring? The Father's Vision: Engendering with No History of Problems A Hymen of Glass/Ice; The Unbegotten Begetter; Exorcism of the Dark Night; Astrology as Thaumaturgy: A Semblance (of a) Sun; A Question of Property A Form That Is Always the Same The Passage Confusing Big and Little, and Vice Versa; The Standard Itself/Himself; Better to Revolve upon Oneself-But This Is Possible Only for God-the-Father; The Mother, Happily, Does Not Remember; A Source-mirror of All That Is; The Analysis of That Projection Will Never Take (or Have Taken) Place Completion of the Paideia The Failings of an Organ That Is Still Too Sensible; A Seminar in Good Working Order; An Immaculate Conception; The Deferred Action of an Ideal Jouissance; The End of Childhood Life in Philosophy Always the Same (He); An Autistic Completeness; Love Turned Away from Inferior Species and Genera/Gender; The Privilege of the Immortals; The Science of Desire; A Kore Dilated to the Whole Field of the Gaze and Mirroring Herself Divine Knowledge The Back Reserved for God; The Divine Mystery; This Power Cannot Be Imitated by Mortals; How, Then, Can They Evaluate Their Potency?; Except over Someone Like Themselves?; The Father Knows the Front Side and Back Side of Everything, at Least in Theory; The Meaning of Death for a Philosopher An Unarticulated/Inarticulate Go-Between: The Split between Sensible and Intelligible A Failure of Relations between the Father and Mother; A One-way Passage; Compulsory Participation in the Attributes of the Type; A Misprized Incest and an Unrealizable Incest Return to the Name of the Father The Impossible Regression toward the Mother; A Competition the Philosopher Will Decline to Enter; Two Modes of Repetition: Property and Proximity; Better to Work the Earth on the Father's Account Than to Return to It: Metaphor/Metonymy; The Threat of Castration "Woman's" Jouissance A Dead Cave Which Puts Representation Back into Play; That Marvelously Solitary Pleasure of God; A Diagonal Helps to Temper the Excessiveness of the One; The Infinite of an Ideal Which Covers the Slit (of a) Void; Losing Sight of "the Other"; The Vengeance of Children Freed from Their Chains