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Accessing Women through Masculine Discourse: Luce Irigaray’s Embodied Syntax

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Title: Accessing Women through Masculine Discourse: Luce Irigaray’s Embodied Syntax
Author: Lieberman, Alyson
Advisor: Miller, Jerry; Wright, Kathleen
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Philosophy
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: Men and women’s relationship to their bodies is mediated by the linguistic structures surrounding them. The human body plays an important role in understand the border between language and the body. Contemporary Feminists, Luce Irigaray and Judith Butler, understand this relationship as intrinsically linked. This thesis articulates a possible development of the body that sees the female body as becoming a linguistically necessary reference for the male dominated discourse. By existing in a society that values the phallus as the master signifier women become displaced from their own bodies. This displacement is represented in how women relate to language. Without a connection to their own bodies women lose their position as a subject. Additionally, the rejection of her own body leaves the woman in a state of sexual and psychological repression. According to Irigaray their lost female identity can only be reclaimed through a new understanding of language. This new language would incorporate the materiality of the body in an attempt to reclaim a space for the female subject in discourse. These claims are based on a reinterpretation by Luce Irigaray, of Sigmund Freud’s theoretical and psychoanalytic work on sexual development.
Subject: Analysis (Philosophy) -- Sex differences
Subject: Body image in women -- Language
Subject: Irigaray, Luce -- Criticism and interpretation
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Lieberman, Alyson. "Accessing Women through Masculine Discourse: Luce Irigaray’s Embodied Syntax". 2012. Available electronically from

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