Rosemarie Tong, Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction

Postmodern Feminism, Part I-French Postmodern Feminists

Summary Chapter 6

Misa Nagaoka

In Chapter 6 of "Feminist Thought", Rosemarie Tong mainly examines how the definitions and notions that were developed in France and became major modern definitions of women can be reconstructed and liberated to unshackle women from those definitions. This process is examined in various ways which include existentialitical, psychoanalytical, and fictional literary viewpoints. According to Jacques Lacan, people internalize their roles, rituals and interrelated signs that regulate a society unconsciously, which is called "the Symbolic Order." Lacan insists it is the symbolic order that excludes women from a society.

Jacques Derrida criticizes some aspects of the symbolic order since it does not liberate women from hidden assumptions. In order to deconstruct the definition of "woman" in postmodern feminism, this chapter examines three perspectives, that of: Helene Cixous, who examines the different style of writing between men and women; Luce Irigaray who also looks at feminist writing from a psychoanalytic perspective; and Julia Kristeva, who analyzes the relation between the symbolic and semiotic elements. However, there are some criticisms concerning the opacity of postmodern feminist theory.