Post #4 Fetishism and Disavowal

Freud believes that only males can become fetishists, for only they have a motive to disavow the mother’s castrated status. Grosz says that, nevertheless, females do have the capacity to engage in psychoanalytic disavowal (a specific kind of psychic defense mechanism) and, therefore, females in some situations are capable of something analogous to fetishism. But Grosz wants to go beyond Freud—stretch his ideas, as she says—to turn the capacity for disavowal into a positive thing. How does she make her argument? Do you think she is right?

When I read, for the first time, these two texts, I was a bit uncomfortable, especially with Grosz’s text.

Grosz is basically arguing that lesbianism is a form of female fetichism where the lack of the penis is sublimated by hysteria, narcissism or the masculinity complex. These three perversions displace and substitute the object of desire (the “missing” phallus) in a new fetish (a part of the body for hysteric women ; the feminine body for narcissistic women ; an external object for the women who have a masculinity complex).

To me, Grosz is rejuvenating Freud contemporary misogynistic, heteronormative, androcentric and moralizing views about women and “deviant”/“perverse” sexualities. That’s why I don’t think that she is right.

I am skeptic about the use of connoted, normative and debatable concepts—such as “perversion”, “missing penis”, “Oedipal conflict”, “masculinity complex” or “castration”—because:

  • these concepts are morally connoted.
  • these words justified discriminations against LGBTQIA+ and women.
  • the scientificity of these concepts are debatable.
  • the meaning of “normality” is ambiguous (is it a value-laden or a value-neutral definition of normality?).
  • heterosexuality is perceived as a “norm” from which other types of sexuality are defined and judged.

However, I can conceive that queer theories had to go through these kinds of claims to improve their image with the academic field, in terms of credibility.

I maybe miss Grosz’s point. I did not really see her humour. I would be less critical than I used to be. I didn’t understand the relevance of Grosz’s attempt to queer Freud’s notion of fetichism. I like it more than before.


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