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Lesser, R.C. (1997). A Plea for Throwing Development Out with the Bathwater: Discussion of Jessica Benjamin's “In Defense of Gender Ambiguity” (Vol. 1, no. 1). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 2(3):379-388.

(1997). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 2(3):379-388

A Plea for Throwing Development Out with the Bathwater: Discussion of Jessica Benjamin's “In Defense of Gender Ambiguity” (Vol. 1, no. 1) Related Papers

Ronnie C. Lesser, Ph.D.

There's a lot to like about Benjamin's elegant, ardently argued article, “In Defense of Gender Ambiguity.” In it she continues the feminist project of reworking gender categories, brilliantly extending it by using poststructural queer theory. Her goal is to deconstruct the polarized categories of gender and sexuality found in psychoanalytic developmental theory, a theory that has ratified cultural taboos against homosexuality. Such a task requires, Benjamin tells us, subjecting psychoanalytic categories to a critique of essentialism. Yet, she balks at the idea of taking poststructural challenges to identity too far, preferring to work within developmental gender categories and use these to subvert the reified forms of the binary opposition. She argues that the oedipal view of gender, which has dominated psychoanalysis, is only one (and a particularly crippling) construction of the oppositional terms masculinity and femininity. Thus, she proposes a postoedipal stage in which the subject may return to preoedipal overinclusiveness at a higher level, with the knowledge of difference.

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