Feminine Nuances

The argument of the “WAP’s Great International Online Conversation 2022” begins with a metaphor: “a wind has arisen”. Indeed, “Woman does not exist” lifts a veil, we are questioned and we question, analysts have pledged to converse.

In the plurality of the “not-all argument”, a detail oriented my reading, the existence of five subheadings; in each one is read a clinical-political impasse and at the same time, a way to get out of it.

The pathway of the symptom as I understand it appears as the main road. For Christiane Alberti the symptom is “the way that feminises us”. Yes!

Where will these winds carry us?

In contemporary life, the new appears according to the modes by which the signifier collectivises, by its value of imaginary-narcissistic plug. The use of language “that consists therein and is separate, having been constituted over the ages […]i” is not promoted today in a symptomatic link. What consequences can we draw from these master signifiers, in their pretention of numbing and eclipsing lalangue lodged in a symptom.

I will orient myself from the tripod: speech, jouissance and love.

Living in Speech

This interrogation of Jacques Lacan is foundational: “Why not posit here that the fact that everything that is analyzable is sexual, does not mean that everything that is sexual is accessible to the analysis?”ii The “woman part” in the sexual, was already on its way. Language has always functioned as a supplement for sexual jouissance, as a framework faced with the intrusion of jouissance in- the body.

“Where it speaks, it enjoysiii” is a radical axiom, the signifier is considered “[…] at the level of enjoying substance (la substance jouissante)”.iv It is no longer reduced to a remainder of jouissance but is the cause of it. For this reason it is well suited to “feminine jouissance”, it relates to a “corporeal substance”. From there the logic and the incidence of speech appear.

The Logical Exigency of Speech

It is just as feminist discourse reaches its peak that Lacan opens his own impasse on the question of feminine sexuality. At the age of 70, he addresses himself especially to women analysts! Supported by their Not-all saying, he will say that the cause is “related to the structure of the apparatus of jouissancev” in the jouissance proper to each sex.

The language that agitates the speaking body is presented in the man as a finite, jouissance – complete – designated as phallic jouissance, whereas in the woman it is an infinite jouissance, less localised. That is to say that it is a jouissance that is difficult to grasp.

Given the logical impossibility of making “women” a whole One-All [Un-Tout], the “sexed being” of these not-all women, does not pass through the body, “but by what results from a logical exigency in speech”.vi

It is a decisive turning point! It is still relevant today, it teaches us “the logical exigency in speech”. The syntagm partner-symptom proposed by J.-A. Miller opens the perspective of this exigency in the relation of the speech of love with feminine jouissance. A difficult paradox to untangle! It presents itself between the delocalised infinite and a not-all saying, represented by the bar of the signifier that falls back on The Woman. On the feminine side, the relation with finitude is contingent, it depends on the encounter “of lovevii“, under the erotomanic form. And so…

To know Oneself as a Woman

“There is something concerning love which fails when love is confronted with jouissance”.viii For the man, being as complete makes One, he does without speech in his satisfaction, it “remains out of play”.ix For a woman on the other hand, “the speech of the Other is an intrinsic element to jouissance”.x In her, love and jouissance are articulated, she needs an Other who speaks to her so that she can recognise herself as an object of desire. An Other incarnated “as a sexed beingxi“, which requires this “one by one”.

How then can we catch this “something” of the signifier, which is the material cause of jouissance? The answer is categorical, “the signifier is what brings jouissance to a haltxii“, it is the foundation of the Signifier of the barred Other. This jouissance – of the barred Other – presented as an supplementary jouissance, has two faces. J.-A. Miller situates them as follows: one is “the jouissance of the body insofar as it is not limited to the phallic organxiii“, it is infinite. The other is situated in “the jouissance of speech”.xiv It seems to me that it is in this direction that we can answer the paradox between the infinite and the Not-all.

In feminine jouissance, love is linked to the Other without being dominated by the drive. It is linked to the Other, as inconsistent, incomplete. “To know oneself as a womanxv” does not involve her in a knowledge of her jouissance, but it is by her Otherness that she knows herself.

Our rendez-vous with “Woman does not exist” indicates that there is no Other who responds as a partner more than a jouissance. This is the reason why Lacan will later specify that there is “a sinthome he and a sinthome she, what remains of the sexual relation”.xvi


Translation by Joanne Conway

i Lacan, J., On Feminine Sexuality, The Limits of Love and Knowledge. Encore. The Seminar, Book XX, transl. B. Fink, Norton & Co., New York, 1999, p. 2.

ii Lacan, J., Guiding Remarks for a Convention on Female Sexuality, Écrits. The First Complete Edition in English, Transl. B. Fink, Norton & Co., New York, 2006, p. 614.

iii Lacan, J., On Feminine Sexuality, The Limits of Love and Knowledge. Encore. The Seminar, Book XX, Transl. B. Fink, Norton & Co., New York, 1999, p. 115.

iv Ibíd., p. 24.

v Ibíd, p. 58.

vi Ibíd, p. 10.

vii Miller, J.-A., Course of the Lacanian Orientation, The partner -symptom, session of the 1st of April 1998. Unpublished.

viii Ibíd. Session of the 14th of January, 1998. Unpublished.

ix Ibíd. Session of the1st of April, 1998. Unpublished.

x Ibid.

xi Ibíd.

xii Lacan, J., On Feminine Sexuality, The Limits of Love and Knowledge. Encore. The Seminar, Book XX, Transl. B. Fink, Norton & Co., New York, 1999, p. 24.

xiii Miller, J.-A., Course of the Lacanian Orientation, The partner-symptom, Session of the 1st of April 1998.Unpublished.

xiv Ibid.

xv Miller, J.-A., Course of the Lacanian Orientation. Pièces détachées. Session of the 1st of June, 2005. Unpublished [Intervention of Éric Laurent].

xvi Lacan, J.,9th Congress of l’École Freudienne de Paris on “Transmission”, published in Lettres de l’École, 1979, no25, vol. II, pp. 219-220.