photo blog_head_zpsonl8fonu.jpg
Meesa gonna kill you!

Get email updates of new posts:        (Delivered by FeedBurner)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Extracts from The Sadeian Woman (3)

"I never know how much of what I say is true." - Bette Midler

***

"Sade had said he would gladly be a martyr for atheism, if any were needed; to be a martyr for pornography may have struck him as a less glorious fate."


"The question of her virtue is itself an interesting one. As the brigand, Coeur-de-Fer, says to her: why does such an intelligent girl so persistently locate virtue in the region of her genitals?

For Justine’s conception of virtue is a specifically feminine one in that sexual abstinence plays a large part in it. In common speech, a ‘bad boy’ may be a thief, or a drunkard, or a liar, and not necessarily just a womaniser. But a ‘bad girl’ always contains the meaning of a sexually active girl and Justine knows she is good because she does not fuck. When, against her will, she is fucked, she knows she remains good because she does not feel pleasure. She implores La Dubois’ brigands to spare her honour, that is, to refrain from deflowering her; a woman’s honour, in the eighteenth century, is always a matter of her sexual reputation. Obeying the letter if not the spirit of her request, they strip her, sexually abuse her and ejaculate upon her body. ‘They respected my honour, if not my modesty,’ she congratulates herself. Her virginity has a metaphysical importance to her. Her unruptured hymen is a visible sign of her purity, even if her breasts and belly have been deluged in spunk.

Later, her virginity gone, she will tell herself that she has nothing to reproach herself with but a rape and, since that was involuntary, it was not a sin. She is less scrupulous than her literary progenitor, Richardson’s Clarissa Harlowe, the first great suffering virgin in the history of literature, who, though she had been drugged into unconsciousness while the act took place, still believed herself in complicity with a rape of which she had known nothing. Justine is less scrupulous because her virtue is a female ruse that denies her own sexuality; nevertheless, though she may deplore the sexuality of incontinent men who think of rape the moment they see her, as all men do with Justine, she is sufficiently pragmatic to have deduced, from the fact that rape has patently not changed her, that Coeur-de-Fer was right and virtue does not depend exclusively on the state of her hymen. She concludes her virtue depends on her own reluctance.

Her sexual abstinence, her denial of her own sexuality, is what makes her important to herself. Her passionately held conviction that her morality is intimately connected with her genitalia makes it become so. Her honour does indeed reside in her vagina because she honestly believes it does so. She has seized on the only area she is certain of as a means of nourishing her own self-respect, even if it involves the cruellest repressions and a good deal of physical distress.

Repression is Justine’s whole being — repression of sex, of anger and of her own violence; the repressions demanded of Christian virtue, in fact. She cannot conceive of any pleasure at all in the responses of her own body to sexual activity, and so automatically precludes the possibility of accidentally experiencing pleasure...

Now she is no longer a virgin, her chastity can still exist in the form of frigidity. She seems almost a monster of the fear of sexuality. Since she herself denies the violence of her own desires, all her sexual encounters become for her a form of violence because she is not free to judge them. The fluids of her orgasm are the tears that are an implicit invitation to further rapes. For she does fear rape at all; it is over in a moment and implies no relation with the aggressor. The violent but brief mastery of rape leaves her sense of self inviolate. A rape may be performed in the singular and denies the notion of consent. It is not rape but seduction she fears, and the loss of self in participating in her own seduction, for one must be willing or deluded, or, at least, willing to be deluded, in order to be seduced...

She cannot envisage a benign sexuality and, though her strength lies in her refusal to do so, nevertheless, the limitations of her sexuality are the limitations of her life. She sees herself only as the object of lust. She does not act, she is. She is the object of a thousand different passions, some of them very strange, but she is the subject of not a single one. She can indulge in her infatuation for the homosexual de Bressac because she knows in advance he will be indifferent to her. Later, she accepts Dubreuil’s proposal of marriage solely because he has made it to her; it is not the exercise of a choice and, besides, her own sexual response does not enter into the contractual obligations of marriage...

She is not in control of her life; her poverty and her femininity conspire to rob her of autonomy. She is always the dupe of an experience that she never experiences as experience; her innocence invalidates experience and turns it into events, things that happen to her but do not change her. This is the common experience of most women’s lives, conducted always in the invisible presence of others who extract the meaning of her experience for themselves and thereby diminish all meaning, so that a seduction, or a birth, or a marriage, the central events in the lives of most women, the stages of a life, are marginal occurrences in the life of the seducer, the father or the husband."

--- The Sadeian Woman: An Exercise in Cultural History / Angela Carter
blog comments powered by Disqus
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Latest posts (which you might not see on this page)

powered by Blogger | WordPress by Newwpthemes