Slavoj Žižek on Lacan, sexual difference and class struggle



On "men are from Mars, women are from Venus"

Aprox. 49:00:
For Lacan there is not struggle here. […] The only struggle is within [the sexual positions]. You see: is not that man are intelligent, women are emotional. This is bullshit for Lacan. It's just that what defines each is not a set of features opposed to the other sex's features. I don't know, this all male chauvinist bullshit: intelligent man versus... and so on. No! As constitutive of sexual difference coming earlier than it, there is certain radical contradiction. For Lacan, it's ultimately the tension between Big Other and jouissance. And what accounts for sexual difference, again, is the different ways to assume this contradiction".


On women and proletariat as negativity

Aprox. 1:09:00: 
[Lacan] introduces the asymmetry of the sexes. That is to say, [for man:] "no-man" means woman. We, man, are stupid differentials. If you are not a man, you are a woman. But if you are not a woman, you are not a man. That's the point of Lacan. Here is a beautiful quote that I think it's really crucial for Lacan. This time is the seminar Ou Pire, Or Worse, from '72, session May the 10th: "Since woman is non-all, why should all that is not woman be man?" You see: that "non-all" of the woman means that if, in a double negation, you negate woman you still get a woman. […] Of course, this doesn't mean that there is a deep transsexual substance in woman and so on. That's the beauty of it. It is that there is nothing which is outside, which is not. But this spectral nothing can be called the nothingness of the subject or whatever you want […]. Woman is much closer to negativity. Woman is its own negation. […] It is crucial to read class struggle like this. That is to say: a non-bourgeois is proletarian, but a non-proletarian is not bourgeois. Marx said this. How? When he says (you must remember the details) that bourgeoisie is the only pure class in the history of humanity. Before bourgeoisie capitalists, we had classes which were not fully classes. But working class is already a class which has to abolish itself as a class to assert itself.

Aprox. 2:09:00:
Pure subjectivity is femenine. The male position is always-already substantialized.


On the "three" in sexual relationship and class struggle

Aprox. 1:38:00:
"There is no sexual relationship" means precisely, in a way, that sexes are never two, that there are three. "There is no relationship between the two" means that two is always three. Or (I'm jumping very quickly, I know, but) to put it in Marxist terms, simplified, class struggle (contrary to those who accused me of binarism and so on), class struggle means precisely that classes are never two. If the classes where to be two, there would have been class struggle, but in a purely formal way: I am here, you are there. Class struggle is precisely because two never appears as two. It is always more. The struggle is for that "more". So is not that we have a pure class struggle which then gets blocked, you know, because of there are also small bourgeois, farmers, whatever. No! We only get class struggle because there are more than two.


On the “obscurantist” reading of Lacan’s sexual difference

Aprox. 2:07:00:
[Some Lacanians say:] "Man is fully integrated into the symbolic order, while woman is 'not-all' into the symbolic order. There is some terrifying, —I don't know— to strong jouissance and only woman will can get into it." No! I think —as I repeated in my books all the time— that it's absolutely crucial to take this into account. Woman have access [in the symbolic order] no insofar as they are less within the symbolic order, but insofar as they are totally in it. In other words, I claim that this idea of a woman who, you know, "has access to some secret, excessive jouissance outside language, with the divine," this is the ultimate male fantasy


Coda: On the otherness in Hegel and Lacan

Aprox. 2:16:00:

You will see what's Hegel's problem there. The other that you encounter (the self-consciousness encounters) is not that kind of: "Oh! I recognize myself in you! We are equal!" It's a kind of monstrous traumatic otherness. I mean, I am here and I see objects. I am, of course, the center of my world, the point of absolute subjectivity. And then there is another stupid object that claims: "But I am also like you: universal and so on." It's absolutely incompatible this. The other is primordially not the other on whom I can recognize myself, but it is this ontological paradox of another absolute, as it were. So again here I think Lacan was totally right, even in a Hegelian way, that intersubjectivity is not the ultimate horizon.

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