ABSTRACT

The chapter is a piece of creative non-fiction. When I look back at what has made me a woman, I remember so many episodes that did not seem particularly important or significant at the time but with hindsight (psychoanalytical ‘deferred effect’ Nachträglichkeit) they appear vital. Jacques Lacan reformulated Sigmund Freud’s Nachträglichkeit as après coup, insisting that it is possible to change the meaning of a memory, through a shift of signifiers: the events remain but their traumatic significance can be altered. In part, for me, this story represents just such a shift in signifiers, as a schoolyard game incident in communist Poland becomes more than a trauma and retroactively emerges as the site of ‘becoming woman’ in both a biological and a political sense. The scene offers a vignette of teenagers working out what sexual difference might mean too, here against the background of the very powerful and masculine Big Other: the totalitarian regime.