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Layton, L. (1998). The Practice of Love. Lesbian Sexuality and Perverse Desire: T. de Lauretis. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1994. Psychoanal Q., 67(2):346.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: The Practice of Love. Lesbian Sexuality and Perverse Desire: T. de Lauretis. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1994

(1998). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67(2):346

The Practice of Love. Lesbian Sexuality and Perverse Desire: T. de Lauretis. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1994

Lynne Layton

De Lauretis continues to be one of the most exciting of feminist thinkers, always expanding her theoretical framework to accommodate psychoanalysis, strains of postmodern thought, and the concrete reality of women's social practices. She protests the way feminists have appropriated lesbianism as a marker of women's bisexuality or hysteria, or of women's connections to other women; lesbian specificity—same-sex desire and sexual activity—is consistently absorbed into heterosexuality. The appeal of psychoanalysis for feminists is that it was one of the only discourses that posited women as agents with sexual desire; lesbianism currently performs a similar function for heterosexual feminism, but, in so doing, the psychic and social differences of lesbians are elided. She finds in Freud a possibility for a nonpathological view of perversion. In a fascinating reading of Helene Deutsch, De Lauretis argues that Deutsch saw lesbianism not as a regression to the preoedipal and predifferentiation, but as a return to a repressed negative oedipal stage. The analyst as substitute mother gives permission to be sexual with a woman: “The consent to homosexual activity and gratification may be provided by a discourse that permits them, as well as by participation in the activity itself.” The author calls for cultural representations of lesbian sexuality that will authorize it, and she analyzes texts and films that attempt such authorization.

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Article Citation

Layton, L. (1998). The Practice of Love. Lesbian Sexuality and Perverse Desire. Psychoanal. Q., 67(2):346

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