The segregation men/women and its future


What is happening with the oldest segregation of the world – the segregation of men/women in modernity?

The different « discourses » as defined by Lacan in the late 1960’s, catch « series of bodies »[1] that they aim to submit. Through the removal or the grouping of bodies, they thus isolate jouissance. For what it is necessary to segregate is always the jouissance of bodies. The main function of the discourse of the master is to impose norms on jouissance and to restrain any Other or abnormal jouissance. Yet, what jouissance is most radically Other and must be stopped most urgently, if not feminine jouissance? Hence, the strict gender separation and sequestration of feminine bodies in traditional patriarchal societies. In « Télévision », Lacan suggests that anti-feminine racism presents the paradigm of hatred to other ways of enjoyment: if there is no sexual act, it is because the Other one is of another race, it is that the Other side of sex, « we are separated from it»[2].

The mix of gender now prevails: « mixed » and « parity » are key words of the western modernity, where women have become men as others. In parallel, the rise of the modes of enjoyment in their diversity has subverted the domination of the Phallic One over jouissance, producing « an increasing disorder of sexuation »[3].

Lacan pointed at the time to the implacable section or sexion operated by the cleaver of language : «Language is such that for all speaking subjets, either it is him or it is her .» [4] But the idea of neutral, of a third sex or of a recognised out-of-sex, is no longer science-fiction today. The debates on separate toilets in the United States and the fate of transsexuals, are completely exemplary of these new stakes. Public toilets crystallize polemics because they constitute the last daily device in which gender segregation is the norm.

Let us recall that Lacan gave precisely the example of the “laws of urinary segregation” to clarify the functioning of the signifying order, with the well known image of the twin doors. The signifying structure institutes a pure difference between men and women, without inscribing their respective signifier but producing distinct places, perfectly symbolised by this double «booth »[5].

It is not surprising then, that this ultimate spatial segregation is contested when it is no longer the symbolic norms which, under the species of the law, order the real of bodies, but rather where it is the living bodies which impose their pluralistic jouissance, determining on the other hand, desperate attempts of normalization.

Regarding sexuation as other matters, Lacan’s thesis on the rise of segregation and the transformation of its modalities are confirmed. If on the one hand, traditional sexual segregation sees itself levelled by “the progress of universal civilization”[6], on the other hand, this homogenization of men/women provokes a certain number of return effects that can already be seen[7]. The gender and queer studies movement testifies to this tension between a claimed desegregation of jouissance and the communitarianism of sexual minorities, segregations no longer symbolic but imaginary and drive oriented. Because of « the delusion of our jouissance »[8], we also observe a revival of the virilist movements that call for both the restoration of the God Phallus and also the outbreak of a violently sexist hatred. We are witnessing the forceful return of a contorted virility that no longer seems regulated by the phallic semblant. If racism has much future, the hatred of the Other sex too, be sure of it …


[1] [1]Lacan J., Le Séminaire, livre XIX, …ou pire, Paris, Seuil, 2011, p. 225.

[2] Lacan J., « Télévision », Autres écrits, Paris, Seuil, 2001, p. 534.

[3] Miller J.-A., « Un réel pour le XXIe siècle », Scilicet, Paris, École de la Cause freudienne, 2013, p. 26.

[4] [4] Lacan J., Le Séminaire, livre XIX, …ou pire, op. cit., p. 40. Quant à l’hermaphrodite : « On ne l’appel­lera ça en aucun cas, sauf à manifester par là quelque horreur du type sacré. On ne le mettra pas au neutre ».

[5] Lacan J., « L’instance de la lettre dans l’inconscient », Écrits, op. cit., p. 500 – sur les indications de Leander Mattioli Pasqual.

[6] Cf. Lacan J., « Conférence sur la psychanalyse et la formation du psychiatre à Saint-Anne » du 10 novembre 1967, disponible sur internet.

[7] Cf. La Cause du désir n° 95, « Virilités », avril 2017. En particulier : Brousse M.-H., « La moitié de LOM », pp. 44-49.

[8] Lacan J., « Télévision », Autres écrits, op. cit., p. 534.

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