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Lesser, R.C. (1996). "all That's Solid Melts Into Air" Deconstructing Some Psychoanalytic Facts—"how Women Are". Contemp. Psychoanal., 32:5.

(1996). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 32:5

"all That's Solid Melts Into Air" Deconstructing Some Psychoanalytic Facts—"how Women Are"

Ronnie C. Lesser, Ph.D

AN ELDERLY WOMAN WAS INTERVIEWED on a PBS documentary about couples who had been together most of their adult lives. When asked what her sex life with her husband had been like during their long marriage, she responded nonchalantly that sex had always been for him and not for her. She didn't experience this the way we do when we hear about it; she had no regrets, because she saw herself as asexual, and believed this to be, in her words, "how women are." I don't think her generalizing to all women is out of the ordinary. Rather, I see it as representative of how people who live within a particular style of being a woman believe their experience to be natural and universal. They don't notice that this identity changes from one generation to the next, one culture to the next, and how it varies by class, ethnicity, and religion within a culture as well. If a younger Western woman had a relationship in which her partner satisfied only his or her own needs, this would mean something very different to her than it did to this elderly woman, and her emotional response to it would vary accordingly. She too would probably say about her experience, "that's how women are." As Dimen (1995) put it, in a slightly different context, to feel that you are what you are because of biology, is to believe that your nature is mirrored in "what used to be called the facts of life, the facts of Nature." What better way to get an official stamp of approval for one's identity?

This article is about our propensity, as psychoanalysts, to view our theories


0010-7530/96 $2.00 + .05

Copyright © 1996 W. A. W. Institute

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All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.

Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Vol. 32, No. 1 (1996)

1 From Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto, 1888.

My appreciation to Jay Greenberg, Ph.D. for his thoughtful and stimulating comments on an earlier draft of this article, and to Erica Schoenberg, Ph.D. for her help and encouragement. An earlier version was presented as the keynote address at the Institute for Human Identity, Annual Conference, February 1995.

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