Female Masochism in Film: Sexuality, Ethics and Aesthetics by Ruth McPhee

By Ruth McPhee

Theoretically and representationally, responses to heterosexual lady masochism have ranged from forget in theories that spotlight predominantly or purely upon masochistic sexuality inside male matters, to condemnation from feminists who regard it as an inverted expression of patriarchal regulate instead of a valid type of lady hope. It has in general been understood as a passive kind of sexuality, hence ignoring the opportunity of task and company that the masochistic place might contain, which underpins the an important argument that lady masochism might be conceived as enquiring moral job. Taking as its topic the works of Jane Campion, Catherine Breillat, Michael Haneke and Lars von Trier in addition to the movies Secretary (Steven Shainberg), Dans Ma Peau (Marina de Van), crimson street (Andrea Arnold, 2006) Amer (Hélène Cattat and Bruno Forzani), and dozing good looks (Julia Leigh), girl Masochism in movie avoids those reductive and simplistic methods by means of concentrating on the ambivalences and intricacies of this sort of sexuality and subjectivity. utilizing the philosophical writings of Kristeva, Irigaray, Lacan, Scarry, and Bataille, McPhee argues that masochism can't and shouldn't be thought of other than its moral and intersubjective implications, and in addition, that the classy trends rising throughout those movies - obscenity, extremity, disagreement and a transgressive, ambiguous kind of good looks - are strongly on the topic of those implications. finally, this complicated and novel paintings calls upon the spectator and the theorist to reassess normative rules approximately hope, corporeality, delusion and soreness.

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The same formula is repeated: masochism equals passivity equals powerlessness equals negativity. Hart argues that this results in a cultural attitude that positions masochistic women as the most pitiable and even despicable group amongst the range of identities apparent in modern sexual life: they exhibit too explicitly the shameful thing that they already ‘are’ (Hart 1998: 31). The residual trace of Freud’s binary logic echoes through feminist critiques of female masochism and this is a logic that means ‘women cannot perform the masochistic role because they are masochists’ (Hart 1998: 89).

Braidotti neatly summarizes this position: This Eurocentric paradigm implies the dialectics of self and other, and the binary logic of identity and otherness as respectively the motor for and the cultural logic of universal Humanism. Central to this universalistic posture and its binary logic is the notion of “difference” as pejoration. Subjectivity is equated with consciousness, universal rationality, and self-regulating ethical behaviour, whereas Otherness is defined as its negative and specular counterpart.

This project is a complex one and, as the discussions and examples that unfold in the following chapters illustrate, may encounter its own contradictions, ambiguities and discursive resistances. Such difficulties should not be ignored amidst an impatient rush towards a redemptive or positivistic outcome, but constitute a crucial part of any ethically enquiring mode of philosophical writing. The question of how to commence the current encounter with female masochism and its attendant debates is only the first of these enquiries, and may be answered by an initial engagement with the significance and conceptualization of masochism in theory and in culture.

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