Hurly-Burly 9 – Selected paragraphs IV

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Marie-Hélène Brousse

Feminine Homosexuality in the Plural, or When Hysterics Do Without their Straw Men (excerpt)

“Feminine homosexuality is a solution, just as old as masculine homosexuality, to the sexual difficulty for human beings as beings of language. It is, without doubt, more discreet, less exposed to the public, but just as constant through the historical ages and across different cultures. Without doubt, it does not threaten the exigencies of the family and the patriarchal order in the same manner. Moreover, as studies of the history of mentalities show, over the past centuries women, for the most part, have not been given quite the same hearing as men have, either in their political opinions or in their private positions. Finally, feminine homosexuality was also the object of a masculine fantasy, and could, under this heading, reinforce masculine desire: the dream of intertwined women’s bodies that would demand nothing of men, therein liberating men from a duty coming to weigh upon their desire.

     The present age, without being disengaged from the pervasiveness of all this, is something else. Psychoanalysis has played an absorbing part in this change in different ways. First and foremost in seriously putting into question the supposed biological nature of sexuality in human beings, male or female. For this, it was necessary to acknowledge what the subjects in this singular apparatus, the analytic apparatus, said. From as early on as his three essays on sexuality, Freud put forward the polymorphous perversity of the child, which eventually radically modified the definition of perversion that was based on both social and biological criteria. Among other things, the observation that relations between men and women are based on reciprocal rejections led Freud to consider that it is much easier to account for homosexuality than for heterosexuality. Psychoanalysis finally constituted a discourse from data that had formerly remained confined to the sphere of the unsaid or of private secrets.

     We will start with an important clinical debate in the progression of analytic knowledge, based on the comparison between two Freudian cases, each formalized in a paradigm according to the method of analytic research.”


Translated from the French by Samya Seth


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