I love Luce: the lesbian, mimesis, and masquerade in Irigaray, Freud, and mainstream film

Winter 1989

Holmlund brings the work of Luce Irigary to bear on modern mainstream cinema, taking as her case study the popular, if much derided, film Fatal Attraction. Irigary took issue with Freud’s conception of lesbians as essentially men, and with his insistence that femininity was bound up with motherhood, which effectively negated lesbians altogether. Holmlund considers Jean Riviere’s argument that to be a woman is essentially an act of ‘masquerade’, that in Simon de Beauvoir’s terms, one ‘becomes’ a woman, and Irigary’s response that there is something which predates such an act of becoming. The ‘confused logic’ of Fatal Attraction has led to condemnation by feminists, who feel it appears to associate them with its psychotic antagonist. Further, as Holmlund points out, both women in the film are defined entirely in relation to men.

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