feminism


feminism
  ---- by Felicity J. Colman
  Deleuze did not advocate 'feminism' as the movement has historically come to be known. Yet in his writings one message that is continually relayed is: Do not ever smugly assume that you have reached the limit edges, or causal origins of knowledge of any form or thought. To do so would be at once to assume and position an organisation of recognition based on prior resemblances, given structures, and relationships that have been coded according to linguistic and economic systems. These systems operate most efficiently through prescribed gender work and leisure roles.
  Feminism's theoretical history and legacy have been such that its foundational premises of pointing out the inequalities and restrictions imposed by thinking and practising within given boundaries became principal in activities and theories concerning sexuality, equality, difference, subjectivity, marginalisation, and economics. The concept of a 'limit to be reached' is in itself one of the key critical systematic assumptions that Deleuze and Guattari dismantle.
  With the exception of his cinema books, where core conceptual points are made through reference to canonical twentieth-century filmmakers including Marguerite Duras and Chantal Akerman, references to women are few in Deleuze's works. In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari's discussion of 'becoming-woman' focuses on the processes of subjective formation, through the writing of Virginia Woolf. Indicative of the twentieth century's division and demarcation of labour roles according to normative patriarchal gender and biological functions, Deleuze's writings are suffused with examples of published male philosophers, writers, scientists and artists.
  However, Deleuze is attentive to the gender biases of western mythology and the patriarchally produced behaviour of both genders. The ethical construction of the body as a constituent/contributor of a pre-configured (and hence gendered) organisation is continually pointed out by Deleuze. In Anti-Oedipus Deleuze and Guattari attack and reject the psychoanalytically enframed familial unit and gendered historical zones for its bourgeois hierarchy and assumptions of an Oedipally figured desire. Valuable for feminism is Deleuze and Guattari's discussion of a body in terms of its potentialities and capabilities, once it is conceived of not in terms of its past structure, but in terms of a future modality. Deleuze draws upon Baruch Spinoza to develop the playwright-poet Antonin Artaud's concept of the Body without Organs (BwO). This 'body' is one that affords a creative site for the collection and expression of the formation of desire. Placing the body on a platform of the systems of exchange provides spatial and temporal zones for analysis of gendered categorisations.
  Deleuze and Guattari's phrase 'becoming-woman' is a critique of all aspects of anthropocentrism; that is, where man is regarded as the central and most important dynamic in the universe. Becoming-woman refers to every discourse that is not anthropocentric, and is thus coded by all economic, social, cultural, organic, and political circuits as 'minority'. With the concept of a 'minority discourse', and 'becoming woman', Deleuze and Guattari take the body not to be a cultural medium but a composition of socially and politically determined forces.
  Deleuze's use of the 'difference' of women undergoes theoretical development in the 1960s, in turn this change influences his later theories of difference and minority groups, as well as public and capitalist generated desire and its effect on things in the world. Deleuze's theories recognise the political and public shaping of an individual's cultural realm and milieu. This philosophical position on the narration of the multiple may appear abstract and antithetical to feminist methodologies that focus on the analysis and identification of the personal. Yet Deleuze's ideas consistently point out how a method that points toward the 'truth' of a particular representation has a universalising tendency and does not refer to the 'forces' that shape beliefs, thoughts or structures.
  Deleuze's work demonstrates how, because of its history, subjectivity is a political constitution not the result of an individual community. Individual historical figures are utilised by Deleuze to examine the structuration of bodies via historical organisation, cultural affiliations and social differentiation. The formation and reformation of such bodies and things are questioned in terms of the ways in which relationships and qualities provide identity, reality and virtuality. The economic, ethical, logical and aesthetic constitution of these bodies is also considered by Deleuze in terms of their structural and systematic constitution. Deleuze's system of thinking through concepts of identity given by history, and maintained in capitalism, provides a valuable revolutionary and unorthodox approach for feminism's critique of the surface effects of gender roles, as well as its project of rewriting histories of exclusion.
  Connectives
   § body
   § desire
   § psychoanalysis
   § woman

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

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