- ---- by Rosi BraidottiLike all formations of identity in Deleuze's thought, 'woman' is a molar entity that pertains to and sustains the political economy of a majority. However, in a much broader phallogocentric historical system 'woman' is also positioned as 'other'. Deleuze shows great sensitivity in his treatment of 'woman' neither casting her as the mistress of alterity, nor fetishising her as the privileged object of masculine desire. Rather Deleuze avoids the tropes common to philosophical discourse on the feminine, choosing toremain polymorphous on the topic of sexuality, all the while performing a double displacement at the level of both Platonic theories of representation and psychoanalytic theories of desire.Deleuze rejects the speculative self/other relationship of dialectics and argues instead that these terms are not linked by negation, but are two positively different systems each with its specific mode of activity. Thus 'woman' is not the sexualised 'second sex' of the phallic system, but a positive term: as the other, she is a matrix of becoming. Deleuze also rejects the psychoanalytic emphasis on negativity (lack) and the equation of bodily materiality with the originary site of the maternal. Instead of the régime of the phallus and of its specular other - woman - Deleuze prefers heterogeneous multiplicities and internal differentiation. In this sense he empowers 'woman' through positive figurations such as the non-Oedipal little girl of Alice in Wonderland, who has not yet been dispossessed of her body by the phallic law of the father; or in the equally empowered position of Ariadne, the philosopher's fiancée who expresses the feminine face of philosophy and is also the source of ethical transmutation, turning negative or reactive values into affirmative ones. Transcending the negative passions that the Oedipalising economy of the phallus induces is in effect a Deleuzian engine of the transformation, what Deleuze otherwise calls 'becoming'.The role of 'woman' in Deleuze's theory of becoming is noteworthy. 'Becoming' is the actualisation of the immanent encounter between forces which are apt mutually to affect and exchange parts of each other in a creative and empathic manner. The notion of 'forces' accomplishes a double aim, which is central to Deleuze's emphasis on radical immanence: on the one hand it gives priority to affectivity in his theory of the subject; and on the other, it emphasises the embodied structure of the subject and the specific temporality of the embodied human. A force is a degree of affectivity or of intensity, in that it is open and receptive to encountering other affects. The transformation that occurs in the process of becoming asserts the affirmative, joyful affects over and above the negative ones.Woman not only can enact processes of becoming-minoritarian but also, especially for Guattari, constitutes the main bloc of becoming for all processes of deterritorialisation. 'Becoming-woman' is both integral to the concept and process of becoming and also uncomfortably written into it as a constitutive paradox of Deleuze's nomadic subjectivity. The woman in question here is not an empirical referent, but rather a topological position, which marks degrees and levels of intensity and affective states. It expresses impersonal and ungendered forces; and, as is to be expected, this has generated a lively and often critical debate with feminist poststructuralist philosophers.Moreover, 'becoming-woman' is a moment, a passage, a line of ﬂight which bypasses empirical women per se. Processes of becoming are not predicated upon a stable, centralised 'self ' who supervises their unfolding. Rather, they rest on a non-unitary, multilayered, dynamic subject. Becoming woman/animal/insect is an affect that ﬂows; like writing it is a composition, or a location that needs to be constructed in the encounter with others. All becomings are minoritarian, that is to say they inevitably and necessarily move into the direction of the 'others' of classical dualism (such as sexualised, racialised and/or naturalised 'others'). Yet becomings do not stop there; they become displaced and are reterritorialised in the process. Thus, 'becoming-woman' marks the threshold of patterns of 'becoming-minoritarian' that cross through the animal and go into the 'becoming-imperceptible' and beyond. There are no systematic, linear or teleological stages of becoming; each plateau marks a framed and sustainable block or moment of transformation that is actualised immanently.Alternatively, patterns of becoming can be visualised as an affirmative deconstruction of dominant subject-positions (masculine/white/ heterosexual/ speaking a standard language/property-owning/urbanised and so on). Or else, becomings can be understood as stepping stones to a complex and open-ended process of depersonalisation of the subject. Internally self-contradictory, becoming can best be expressed by figurations: the wasp and the orchid; the woman and the turning of the waves; the sound and the fury, signifying nothing. In this way, the process of becoming is not about signification, but about actualising new modes of affective interaction: it asserts the potency of expression. Expression is the non-linguistically coded affirmation of an affectivity whose degree, speed, extension and intensity can only be measured materially and pragmatically, case by case. And it is therefore interesting to note that women are not a priori molecular; they too have to become woman.Connectives§ becoming§ force§ molar§ psychoanalysis
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.