Becoming vulva: flesh, fold, infinity

Autumn 2009

The relation between morphology and becoming-woman is a contentious one. Deleuze and Guattari have been critiqued by Irigaray as fetishising woman. However Irigaray, Deleuze and Guattari each posit a challenge to phallologocentric paradigms through real life becomings via reconfigurations -beyond metaphor or alternate subjectifiation -of the subject as enfleshed. Subjectivity is manifold and folds with other subjects, so the subject is never entirely present to the self and never extricated from the connexions it makes. Such multiplicity, fluidity and connectivity negotiate the singularity, stability and dividuation inherent to phallologic. Deleuze and Guattari’s understanding of ‘Becoming’, and Irigaray’s model of the two lips, directly respond to the symbol of the phallus. As an experiment in extending and exploring these concepts, while simultaneously attempting to create a fold between the theories, this article offers the idea of ‘becoming-vulva’. The vulva, with all its symbolic and psychoanalytic associations, is itself both the blind spot and rupture of the phallic. As a folding and folded organ the vulva is temporally metamorphic and apprehended through aspect rather than totality. It constitutes a schema of organ and pleasure which resonates with the folded and folding structure of desire itself. In this article both the vulva and desire are grounded in the political and ethical contexts of this feminist project while also being an abstract territory that opens out and potentialises ways of thinking the flesh.

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