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June 2021

Luce Irigaray: A man, a woman: what are the differences?

The Dividual

In this short video interview with feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray, filmed on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2004, she speaks of the linguistic characteristics of gender difference. Irigaray describes the female as more-than-one, which delineates itself as a relation between things rather than a subject that submits objects to its will. She says, “It’s not the same to carry a child inside your body than outside. It’s not the same to make love inside your body than outside.” In her seminal 1976 essay “When Our Lips Speak Together” (“Quand nos lèvres se parlent”), Irigaray addressed the more-than-oneness of being woman in the polytropic style of the writing and in the content of the text. Among other things, she observes that the lips, which are a threshold of the body between outside and inside, are not one but two. When the lips touch each other it is hard to say which one is the upper and which is the lower, and the female body has two sets of lips, the mouth and the vagina. She famously concludes her essay by stating: “You? I? That’s still saying too much. Dividing too sharply between us: all.”

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