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Benjamin, J. (1997). Response to Ronnie C. Lesser. Gender and Psychoanalysis, 2(3):389-398.

(1997). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 2(3):389-398

Response to Ronnie C. Lesser Related Papers

Jessica Benjamin, Ph.D.

Ronnie Lesser has written a very interesting critique of the concept of development, drawing on major ideas in poststructural theory. It appears to me, however, that my paper is mainly of interest to her as an occasion for her discussion of the concept. I do not think she has considered whether or how my thesis makes use of the concept to reach conclusions that might be of interest or useful in their own right. Rather, Lesser thinks it sufficient to note my laudable values and lamentable acceptance of the idea of development, without addressing the way that idea functions in my thesis. A reader who has not read my paper, or even one who has read it a year ago, will probably find it difficult to gather from Lesser's comments what I have proposed and why. That reader would scarcely gain the impression that my aim was to use the concept of development against the grain. In fact, I proposed to show that a position that develops later, the oedipal position, shuts down possibilities of the previous gender position and that it is a more problematic, less differentiated position than psychoanalysis has assumed. Furthermore, it was my aim to show that the oedipal position can impede differentiation and recognition of otherness through its chauvinistic insistence on sameness and devaluation of what is other. One would not know from reading Lesser's piece that I situate the oedipal position developmentally in order to relativize the notion that it is the ultimate organizer of gender experience. This does not necessarily mean that I have provided a compelling argument for using developmental theory, but without discussing the thesis of my paper Lesser has not offered a sufficient argument for throwing it out.

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