By Amber Laraque
Reading Luce Irigaray’s excerpt from This Sex Which Is Not One sparked questions in my head, regarding male sexuality versus female sexuality. As Irigaray describes it, “Woman touches herself all the time, and more over no one can forbid her to do so, for her genitals are formed of two lips in continuous contact. Thus, within herself she is already two – but not divisible into one (s)– that caress each other.”
She describes this as autoeroticism and says that this autoeroticism is interrupted by a “violent break-in”—the penis entering the vagina.
The questions that arose after reading this were, 1. how can one believe that because a woman’s lips touch all the time, that it could be a form of pleasure?; and 2. Why she describes the penis as “violating?”
Reading further, my second question was answered, and it is understood that Irigaray believes that women have been put in the position to serve the purpose of pleasuring a man, what she describes as a “use- value for man,” or a “commodity.” Thus the penis would be violating a woman, seeking pleasure for only himself, while a woman doesn’t need a penis, nor a tool to pleasure herself.
This takes me back to my first question. While I understand the points that Irigaray makes about a woman, self pleasure, and rediscovering herself, I don’t agree that women get pleasure because she “touches herself all the time.” Or is it because I have not rediscovered myself yet? Perhaps Irigaray’s point is that a woman needs to discover herself out side of “man” in order to understand herself, her pleasure, and her sexual organs.