“They are easy because they are poor”

Sir John Everett Millais, Ophelia (1851–2)
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By MIRMILA MUSSE*

Some men can't stand femininity. And for that reason, they will never know or have clues about what a woman is.

The insistence of social discourse on designating a modus operandi of how a woman should be and behave has always existed and in different cultures. The numerous attempts to place it in the position of an object have opened up, on the one hand, the bodies as a bargaining chip, the target of violence and murders. On the other hand, this discourse veils and covers up the particular feminine of each one.

The discussion about women is no longer designated by a biological question, since we are not talking about male and female. The choice of gender makes this aspect of the theme disappear and, assuming oneself as a woman, is no longer based on the sexual organ.

But then, what is being a woman? This is an ontological question. Such a definition is made by the difference, by the negative and not by its supposed identity. In the dictionary, man is defined as a human being in general, a bipedal mammal, endowed with intelligence and language. Woman is the feminine noun of the human species. If it is no longer biology that determines it, there is no exclusive attribute, a universal essence. The identification of the one called “woman” is not complete in a set, in a complement, because the feminine experiences in the body, according to psychoanalysis, something without form, without words and without reason.

A general and universal definition does not contemplate what a woman is, but it is possible to say about each one of them, one by one. The patriarchal discourse, while insisting on establishing semblances that determine what it is to be a woman, also excludes its essence. Denying women, and denying her, seems easier than hearing about things that escape the order of knowledge in the dictionary or in biology.

Without inscribing women in normative categories determined by a social ideal, femininity can be the way to give us clues about the enigma of what it means to be a woman, in the singular. Being a mother, for example, does not say what it means to be a woman. In some cases this may intersect, but in others it may not.

 

Being a woman is an exception to normalization

It is the language that makes being exist. Even that which does not exist has a chance to exist when it is spoken. In this sense, courage can be understood as giving way to what is not known. Listening to how each human being who identifies as a woman builds her own femininity, where and how her existence and relationship with the other is anchored. But socially, it seems simpler to deny, diminish, violate, objectify or kill her. Every ten minutes a woman is raped in Brazil.

There is no heteronormative duality that accounts for gender determination. First, because even if there is an identification with the other and a recognition of oneself in the other, there is something of femininity that does not concern anything pre-established. Second, because, even if the woman is inserted in the same logic as all human beings, she is partially there. Therefore, it is not complementary to the norm, but supplementary to it. As Lacan says, they do not intersect and do not complete each other. You only know this when you experience it. Just and.

What is not known, fascinates, causes desire and curiosity. But the unknown also causes revulsion, violence, disgust and hatred. Taken as a minor value, woman is placed in universal logic. Taken as free and owner of herself, in excess. The problem is that this is not a measure of value, but an edge. The limit establishes an inside and outside, a totality to be or not to be. The edge starts from what you are not, to then border what you are. For many, what does not fit into the logic of balance, unity and standardization can be unbearable. On the other hand, the woman can know that what the social discourse promises is just a semblance of being.

Misogyny is still accepted today in an attempt to destroy and deprive women. Many believe that if her desire is mortified, none of her femininity will emerge. Self-estrangement, and the horror of what one cannot name, takes shape in the woman's body, as a target. While it lacks, is hollow, empty and object, man is the one who knows about himself and is prudent. For some of them, a woman is just two things: mom, with whom you talk, or a sexual object.

Some men can't stand femininity. And for that reason, they will never know or have clues about what a woman is.

* Myrmilla Mousse is a psychoanalyst and teacher. Master in psychoanalysis from the University of Paris-VIII (Vincennes-Saint-Denis).

 

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