chapter  Chapter 7
16 Pages

Our Vital Necessity

Julia Kristeva’s Theory of Sacrifice
WithMartha J. Reineke

Kristeva’s theory of sexual difference, informed by Lacanian psychoanalysis, adds irony to the motif of a ‘brown paper wrapper’. In dissent from critics like Delphy, those who defend psychoanalysis as a resource for feminism reject the association between ‘the historically mutable and the politically actionable’. Christine Delphy’s remarks about Kristeva exemplify such a critical perspective on psychoanalytic feminism. Approached on terms that Brennan and Elliot suggest, Kristeva’s psychoanalytic feminism can be seen to productively overturn conventional expectations among feminist theorists about sex, gender and social change. True, Kristeva’s portrait of sexual difference, informed by the work of Lacan, emphasises heterosexual expressions of desire. In her quest to understand violence, Kristeva invokes the Symbolic when she writes that sexual difference ‘is translated by and translates a difference in the relationship of subject to the symbolic contract which is the social contract’.