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This Sex Which Is Not One

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0801493317
ISBN-10: 0801493315
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This Sex Which Is Not One + Speculum of the Other Woman + An Ethics of Sexual Difference
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Editorial Reviews


"Psychoanalyst and philosopher by profession, feminist by choice, and radical by nature, Irigaray is one of the most important women writers of con- temporary France, with an armful of books since the early seventies, two of them now translated into English." ―The Antioch Review (Winter 1986)

This Sex is complex, readable, and worth the effort it takes to make it part of what you know. It is a valuable step in disrupting phallic discourse and "jamming the theoretical machinery itself."―Perspectives (Vol. 6, 1986)

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (May 10, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801493315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801493317
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Lily P on November 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
I disagree with the previous review, although I agree that this is an excellent book. Personally, I was glad to have studied Irigaray under the tutelage of an excellent professor, otherwise I would have, and I think many readers could, misread her drastically. Irigaray is simply not a clear and easy writer.

Simply put, Irigaray's writing falls under the category of "difference feminism", rather than egalitarian feminism, like most of the liberal feminists we, particularly in North America, are used to. Instead of trying to subsume male and female experience under the same account, Irigaray plays up the differences between the embodied experiences of men and women-- she is not an essentialist, it is more that she doesn't attempt to separate gender from sex in lived experience.

Her work is provocative-- some find it sexy, some off-putting. She attempts, for example, to redefine the ways males and females experience their sexuality, by challenging the central position of the phallus as an organ of domination. Her psychoanalytic language can be difficult to get through if you aren't, as I'm not, well-versed in that particular method.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrea on March 28, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is Irigaray's best known book. Although at times her linguistic approach is difficult (namely when she discusses Lacan), I found these essays & interviews fascinating and meaningful. Essentially she presents a critique of Freud's conclusions on feminine sexuality; in his view, women exist only in relation to men; pretty much to provide pleasure and birth (hopefully male) babies. Irigaray describes how this notion came to be--not because women are intrinsically passive and masochistic, but because historical, linguistic, and social conditions construct this situation. She asks how women can be defined/seen/thought of just as women, not because of sexual capabilities. How can phallogocentric structures of language and commerce (basically our whole worldview) be revised or destroyed to allow women to exist without being objectified and commodified? It is unclear how optimisitc Irigaray is about this possibility, but her questioning has proved significant for many fields of study. In my opinion chapter 4, The Power of Discourse and the Subordination of the Feminine, is the most succinct summary of her main ideas.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Martin Asiner on August 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
Lucy Irigaray published This Sex Which is Not One in 1977, first in French, then in 1985 in English. This book, along with her earlier Speculum, represents the foundation of her theories regarding the valorization of woman. It is a collection of eleven essays on a wide range of topics, all of which share a common link: the recognition that women have throughout history been marginalized in politics, economics, literature, and even in medicine. It is no surprise, then, that Irigaray addresses these varying issues in essays that are marked by not only thematic differences but also by a protean richly textured prose style. The title gives the reader a clue that connects this book to the theme of Speculum, namely that over the centuries men have treated women as a gender-in-absence. Irigaray addresses first women to shake them out of a patriarchal blanket of a hegemonic denial of self to re-invigorate in them the long-buried notion that there are indeed two human genders, each of which must be equal to the other, but only one of them tries mightily to suppress the other. She obliquely addresses men as well, but only in the sense that since she knows that men will not read her books in any significant number, it is up to women to reconfigure the gender trajectory of men to bring them into alignment with women. This will be no easy task since the domination of women by men has built up over the eons a massive inertia that resists change, especially when one considers that this domination has thoroughly infested the totality of social intercourse between the genders.Read more ›
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By Joyce Metzger on March 15, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In eleven widely ranging essays, Irigaray considers female sexuality in contexts that are relevant to theories and practices of feminist ideals and mystic. This is a meticulous, knowledgeable, exacting, studious research. With cheerfulness, Irigaray, examines the writing and lectures of Freud and Lacan in their attempt to understand womanhood. Irigaray examines the difference between the experience of men and women. She does not attempt to separate gender from sex in our experience. Her work is provocative.
She questions that the phallus is an organ of domination. How can phallogocentric language and commerce (world view)be revised to accommodate basic needs of women without their becoming objectified. Feminist theory is minutely examined, placed beneath microscopic thought, and analyzed with close deliberation. Luce Irigaray writes with a preponderance of ideas and proven theories. Kudos to those who challenge the outdated, stale theories of Sigmund Freud. The world has changed immensely since his stumbling theories were expounded, accepted, and revered by psychoanalytic male minds. At that time, the male family head ruled with an iron hand. Today, women are educated and liberated chiefly through their own efforts.
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