Silencing the Other

We deconstruct necrophilia in Western culture by exposing how it valorizes death and perverts the dignity of life. 

Bacon silenced nature so that she could be exploited. Similarly continental psychoanalysts silenced women by denying them a subjective voice and european colonizers silenced other cultures by denying them subjectivity.  Silencing the ‘other’ is a colonialist strategy: “the de-mothering of nature through modern science and the marriage of knowledge with power was a source of subjugating women as well as non-european people (Shiva, Staying 18).  Freud and Lacan projected their male morphology onto the entire female gender, presenting their phallocentric imaginary and symbology as a universal truth.

According to Lacan, there can be no women subjects. Subjectivity requires language, and language is masculine, grounded in the Phallus as universal signifier.  Women qua women, therefore, cannot speak.  When women speak, when women take up subject positions, it is not as women, but as imitation males, men in drag (Jantzen 43).

Grace M. Jantzen diagnoses Lacan’s disordered thinking as masculinist repression and suggests a therapy by which the “material and maternal basis must be brought to consciousness” (97).

Gayatri Spivak uses the term ‘othering’ for the process by which colonialist discourse creates ‘others’ – those that are homogenized and marginalized by mastering them. When Spivak asks, “Can the subaltern speak?” she does not mean that it is impossible for the subaltern to reclaim a voice; she posits that when the subaltern speak, they create a voice consciousness that may not be perceivable by dominators because it is not pertinent or useful to the dominator (Spivak, p. 80).

IMAGE_black-women-matter_resizeNecrophilic perversion violates the ‘other’ after the ‘other’ has been silenced, rendering them incapable of giving consent; it is indicated by the ethical void of globalization in which multi-nationals  appropriate the homelands of Third World cultures without their consent, degrade their landscapes, pollute their environments and impoverish the people in order to feed the insatiable addiction of Western consumers. In contrast, a feminist philosophy of natality embraces difference and plurality.

By deconstructing necrophilia, we clear a space in-between paradigms to imagine a different future and to begin moving forward to that future paradigm which I call natality.

The full article on Deconstructing Necrophilia will be published in Canadian Woman Studies Journal (CWS/cf) Vol.31, #1 & 2 – a special issue on Women and Environmental Justice.

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