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“Speculum of the Other Woman” by Luce Irigaray Essay (Book Review)

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Updated: Feb 16th, 2021

Irigaray’s essay begins by looking deeply into the femininity riddle. In this discussion, it can be noted that the unique style used by Irigaray together with her project are all entangled together. This makes it easier to read, repeat and reproduce the text. The manner in which this text is presented is similar to that of Freud bearing in mind that both essays contain long quotations. Despite the fact that Irigaray has managed to perform a femininity masquerade, she is not able to reproduce or reiterate the different ways that show that women lack a unique language. According to Irigaray, women rely on their fathers’ voices to express themselves. By so doing, she is trying to establish a symbolic terrain capable of absorbing any critique and its presuppositions. It should also be noted that her questions appear in the form of commentaries, counterpoints, and questions. While bringing Freud in her conversation, she tries to focus more on her individual status to avoid being taken as a mere study object.

It is worth to mention that the decision of Irigaray to insist on her speech is very useful. This is due to the fact that Freud is very reprimanding to women. Despite the fact that Freud’s explanations focus much on sexual differences, there appears to be a lot of complications especially on the perceptions that provide more concentration on status. However, it is worthy to mention that Irigaray has succeeded in retrieving and analyzing Freud’s voice and showing the dogmatisms that are closely linked with sexuality. From this background, it is factual to observe that Freud is not very familiar with the essay presented by Irigaray. This is also in consideration of the fact that Freud’s words do not help in explaining Irigaray’s trajectory. Needless to say, most of the discussion by Freud is also surrounded by issues that focus much on sexuality. Thus, a good number of assumptions contained in his text have portrayed the existence cordial relationships between different sexualities and identities.

By exploring the sexual desire, it is evident that Freud believes that normal women are likely to desire men. Similarly, normal men will often desire women. The latter helps both men and women to achieve their individual longings. Freud uses the Oedipal Complex to gain a good understanding of sexual identity. This makes it easy for Freud to comprehend women by referring to them as complimentary to men. However, Irigaray terms the method used by Freud as a mono-sexual or homo-social economy whose control comes from a particular mirroring or opposition. Freud’s understanding on sexuality makes one to think that subjects that relate to sex should only be discussed by males. According to Freud, women should distance themselves from such subjects. They should engage in such discussions only when they are about to become mothers because during that time, it is a lot easy for them to understand the meaning of being a woman. Irigaray believes that it is right for women to be directed by men. This implies that women should be in a position to provide the necessary assistance to men especially under circumstances where men are required to engage in complex projects.

Irigaray also notes that exploitation of women is not related to social order. However, it is based on its premise and foundation. Therefore, Irigaray finds it appropriate to have a fraternal order that addresses both the rights of men and that of women. Having sexual indifferences affects the existence of good relationships amongst women. This relationship is mostly witnessed between daughters and their mothers and thus refers women as the medium that links both men and fellow women. It is therefore justified to note that Irigaray’s project aims at criticizing the homosexual setting as well as the surrounding economy. It is important to understand that the writings by Irigaray have managed to come up with a reflexive relation especially in terms of language. The writing style adopted in this text aligns to the various feminine expectations and at the same time tries to show the manner in which Irigaray presents different issues. By so doing, Irigaray tries to expose the abilities of women to an extent that women are able to play the role of a language transformer. This is an indication that Irigaray is in agreement with Freud’s account regarding Oedipal Complex.

From Irigaray’s writings, it is evident that sexual differences play a vital role especially when dealing with the metaphysics of a substance. These are the substances that link sexual identity with pre-determined beings. The fact that Irigaray terms human nature as two does not imply that there are only two sexual substances. According to the author, human nature is not neutral or disembodied. However, it is gendered though not necessarily different. In addition, Irigaray provides a well detailed explanation that focuses on different distinctive capacities. These capacities relate only to a generation that has the ability to link the morphological possibilities that are likely to have a large disparity. If it is possible to come up with two parts that represent human nature, then this would be an indication that there is great need to link nature with new culture. Looking at Irigaray’s criticism on feminist equality politics, it can be argued out that the women’s social or biological specificity are essential and valuable attributes. It should be understood that the sexual disparity affirmation discussed by Irigaray does not show any form of association especially on the feminine characteristics that concern women. According to Irigaray, it is not easy to establish the femininity of an individual bearing in mind that familial, symbolic, and social exchange mechanisms have always hindered the images associated with language and femininity.

Despite the fact that Irigaray finds it easier to link maternal to subjectivity, she has complete failed to come up, or establish the required balance between feminine issues and maternity. Irigaray should not be taken as an essentialist bearing in mind that she is not capable of linking women’s biology with their desired aspirations. Looking at the last section of the essay, Irigaray has struggled to come up with a different interpretation of Plato’s cave myth. She does this with the aim of establishing the origin of that particular ideology.

In recap, Irigaray’s writings are very appropriate and important especially to people who have interest in reading and understanding the different foundations that relate to feminist’s thoughts. The text has been well drafted and at the same time provides a detailed explanation of different issues. For example, the first section of the text contains a complete analysis of the construction of women development and sexuality.

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1. IvyPanda. ""Speculum of the Other Woman" by Luce Irigaray." February 16, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/speculum-of-the-other-woman-by-luce-irigaray/.


IvyPanda. ""Speculum of the Other Woman" by Luce Irigaray." February 16, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/speculum-of-the-other-woman-by-luce-irigaray/.


IvyPanda. 2021. ""Speculum of the Other Woman" by Luce Irigaray." February 16, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/speculum-of-the-other-woman-by-luce-irigaray/.


IvyPanda. (2021) '"Speculum of the Other Woman" by Luce Irigaray'. 16 February.

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