Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media & Culture
Vol. 2, No. 2, 1989
Performance Theory Australia
Edited by Brian Shoesmith & Tom O'Regan

Masculine excess and the metaphorics of vision: some problems of feminist film theory

Zoe Sofia

Feminist film theory has inherited from structuralist psychoanalysis the notion that desire is (re)produced as a kind of excess to representation, which always involves an irreducible cleavage in subjects with respect to language. This theoretical formulation is often accompanied by the contradictory assumption that the Symbolic is nevertheless adequate to masculine desire. If the unconscious is pictured as the virtual mirror of a language whose logic is tied in with phallocentric and patriarchal structures of kinship and law, it is easy to presume that Symbolic codes allow masculine subjects unproblematic expressions and fulfilments of everything they wish for. Laura Mulvey wrote, for example, that the woman signifier is "bound by a symbolic order in which man can live out his fantasies and obsessions through linguistic command". [1] If the Symbolic is presumed adequate for masculine fantasy (and thereby equated with the masculine unconscious) and if Woman is defined as a lack that excludes her from full subjectivity in the Symbolic, any images of monstrosity or excess can readily be interpreted as feminine disruptions of an otherwise smooth androcentric textual fabric. 2

But what if the Symbolic could not speak everything of masculine desire? What if there were unspeakable aspects of masculinity, perhaps not officially recognized, but expressed nevertheless, especially in plastic and visual media? Here special semiotic effects could mimic dreamwork and evade conscious censorship by producing poetic, distorted, amusing, and ambiguous figures: the mythic realm of public dreaming, elaborating a cultural unconscious not confined to verbal language.

As deconstructionists have shown, 'excess' is a precondition for any mode of inscription whatsoever, being generated in the relations between framing, framed and frame, and inevitably appearing as a partially occluded exteriority within texts. The following discussion clearly touches on this kind of textual excess, and on the relations between it and the semiotic processes of the pre-linguistic subject (as theorized most notably by Kristeva). However, my focus here is primarily psychoanalytic and content-oriented, dealing with specific organ-symbols and metaphors which are excessive to the conventional representations of Man as a phallocentric, rational, unitary speaking subject.

To begin with, we might deduce three major sources of masculine excess: that related to the masculine (including the homoerotic); that related to the feminine (including bisexuality and mother-identification), and what I'd provisionally call 'the polymorphous', that excess related to part-objects and component instincts associated with the pre-Oedipal schizoid subject position. Complementing the Woman-fetish, a potent and excessive feminine signifier which at once signals and disavows the phallus, we might expect to find the Man-fetish, a masculine body augmented with feminine organs or powers (e.g. as Zeus' brain was augmented with uterine fertility in the myth of the birth of Athena). A further deduction would be that while some expressions of masculine excess worked as unsettling irruptions of non-hegemonic elements and forms of masculinity, excessive figures in popular culture would, for the most part, function to reproduce the constellations of desire which support of official culture and institutional practices. If, along with Deleuze and Guattari and Norman O. Brown, but hardly any others, we take seriously Freud's contention that the energies available for sublimation were by and large those deriving from "the perverse elements of sexual excitation", 3 we would expect mythic texts to re-embody the perverse desires that had been sublimated into socially valued practices. Thus, when the 'day's residues' of scientific discovery and technological progress are given over to the cultural dreamwork of special effects cinema, the 'Monsters of the [scientific] Id' return to express the bizarre desires and sadisms which are attenuated by, but unspeakable within, the highly rationalized framework of scientistic discourse.

Insufficient attention has been paid to the limiting consequences of theorizing the unconscious in terms of linguistic principles like phonemic opposition. In claiming to 'return to Freud', Lacan imputes to the unconscious the very principles which Freud considered most alien to primary process thinking: the principles of difference, logical exclusion, noncontradiction. Teresa de Lauretis has convincingly delineated the limits of this model for film theory, arguing that semiotic theories of iconicity and narrativity can be of more use to feminist film critics, especially since binary oppositions (life/death, woman/man, human/non-human) are transgressed in contemporary cultural productions: "Boundaries are very much in question, and the old rites of passage no longer prevail". 4 Laura Mulvey has realized the deficiencies of the Lacanian model for understanding 'carnivalesque' imagery, grotesque, excessive, monstrous figurations and events which transgress the purities of binary oppositions in the Symbolic order. 5 Rather than adopt the term 'carnivalesque', I propose the more general word 'Mythic' for those semiotic productions which lay between the fixities of official language and law, and the unpredictabilities of the individual unconscious. Through the Mythic are selectively reproduced the metaphorical constellations that supplement rationalized discourses (the Symbolic).

An ongoing problem in psychoanalytic cultural criticism is the inflexibility that results when psychoanalytic findings are generalized. As Jacqueline Rose has pointed out, psychoanalysis proper examines the difficulties and failures in the subject's efforts to maintain the socially enforced unitary gendered identity. 6 But theoretical generalisations of psychoanalytic findings inevitably gravitate towards a sociological conception of subjects as either women or men caught up in a determinate order of gender difference. Not only does this dualistic model of gender identity prevent theorists from recognizing potentials for changing gender codes, it also obscures important differences within genders (e.g. those arising through class, ethnicity, or sexuality).7 Irigaray has eloquently argued that the gender difference model scarcely recognizes any genuine alterity (since Woman is defined not in her own right, but in respect to Man); furthermore - and this is where my own argument beings - it fails to account for any differences Man might have with(in) himself, those parts of himself with which he is not identified, at least not officially.

This article is intended as a contribution to current efforts to get around the impasses produced by the gender difference model in feminist psychoanalytic cultural criticism, particularly regarding film. It suggests we abandon assumptions that Symbolic language is adequate to masculine self-representation, and that textual excess or undecidability is always feminine. Masculinity is not to be taken for granted but deconstructed, a task more readily accomplished by studying texts which already stretch the fabric of representation - such as special effects cinema.

If the official language on gender is all about the differences of men from women, the unspeakable fantasies would likely include identifications of men with women, expressed for example in condensation images of bisexual character. Though bisexual figures are not the only form of masculine excess, they are particularly overdetermined as the underside of an ideology which scrupulously represses any suggestions of femininity in masculine subjects.

As a way of approaching these questions in the context of film theory, let us take Linda Williams' essay "When the Woman Looks" as representative of feminist criticism elaborated from within the Lacanian model of sexual difference. 8 Williams' subject matter - the relation between femininity and monstrosity - brings her into confrontation with the limits of this paradigm, which she would like to criticise but does not quite manage to transcend.

The Lacanian model entered feminist film theory largely through Laura Mulvey's 1975 article "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema". In the Mulveyan argument, Man, the possessor of the penis, is assured access to the Symbolic and mastery of the gaze (assumed to be phallic), while Woman, defined by her lack of the significant organ, occupies an ambiguous place. Her exclusion from the Symbolic means she is not completely defined by its categories: she is therefore an excess to this order. Her placement as the object rather than the agent of the gaze makes passive but also threatening: as the sex which lacks the phallus, the woman, fetishized as image, reminds man of the danger of castration, and may therefore signify the phallus. Not fixed within the Symbolic, woman may be depicted as monstrous, and if she becomes the agent the look, she may be punished for exceeding her confined role as image. According to Williams, the woman's look in horror films raises both of these possibilities: on the one hand, the dreadful sight of the monster seems a punishment for her active looking, but on the other hand - and Williams considers this predominant - a peculiar sympathy may flow between woman and monster, signifying a mutual recognition that each is a threatening potency united in their monstrous difference from phallic masculinity and the Symbolic order each is "powerful in a different way".

Rejecting interpretations of monstrosity as an "eruption of the normally repressed sexuality of the civilised male (the monster as double for the male viewer and characters in the film)",9 Williams is led by the Lacanian scheme to insist that any difference be interpreted as sexual difference. The monster's power, she writes, "is one of sexual difference from the normal male; "it represents the "potency of a different kind of sexuality". Finally, in a move that forecloses inquiry into possible masculine deviations from the sexuality of "the normal male", or into potent sexualities from a time before differences were fixed into a two-gender system, the monster is interpreted as a "double for the woman".

Undoubtedly monstrosity tends to be associated with the (pre-Oedipal) maternal, but this does not make it essentially 'feminine' and hence subsumable by the rhetoric of gender difference. There are masculine as well as feminine femininities; it is not a question of gender identity but of the multiple positionalities of fantasy. 10 Analysts of monstrosity must bear in mind that characteristics of the proto-subject of 'the semiotic'(a subject recalled in the Mythic) include its paranoid-schizoid fragmentation, bisexual fantasies, confusion over differences between self and (M)other, the intensities of projection, introjection, and projective identification etc.; in other words, processes and positions lying outside the Oedipal codes, and productive of ambiguous signs that cannot be reduced by logics of identity and binary difference.

The limitations of this theoretical schema become evident when Williams considers films of the Psycho genre, in which transvestite men may be shown to murder women. Although she criticises as ideological the notion that "the woman in man" is responsible for his murderousness, she cannot come up with an alternative explanation. In cases where the masculine monster is represented with its own potent difference, Williams equates this difference with Woman's difference from Man (as in her discussion of The Phantom of the Opera), so it is not surprising that she interprets explicit masculine bisexuality as feminine monstrosity. Williams relies on the equation 'woman = monster' to account for the 'victim-blaming' structure of these films, which seem to pose monstrous femininity as the cause for the woman's demise. While recognising Dressed to Kill as "a male horror fantasy in drag", Williams' intuitive grasp of the problem of masculine monstrosity cannot be theorized within the available model, in which only women can be monstrous, and where even bizarre fantasies are to be analysed according to a rigorous opposition between man and woman. These monstrous transvestites are decoded as '(normal) Man + (monstrous) Woman' instead of being recognized as their own form of monstrosity: the bisexual Man.

Williams' account is blind to a rather obvious message about masculine ambivalence here: that sadism towards women is the flip side of identification with them, that the secret of misogyny is female identification. Masculine supremacist ideology exaggerates separation/individuation from the Mother by discouraging masculine expressions of envy or identification and permitting only assertions of unbridgeable sexual difference. Under these conditions, any 'return of the repressed' female-identification is liable to be accompanied by an intensification of sadism towards the feminine aspects of the masculine psyche, and perhaps towards Woman generally (violence being a means of preserving a difference when sexual differences are weakened). These films capture moments when the ambivalence-ridden masculine psyche at once expresses and suppresses its bisexuality.

The 'common sense' of cinematic realism tells us that since an actual woman once stood before the camera, the woman-figure in the text is a signifier of Woman. However, psychoanalytically, the woman in the text may not be a Woman at all, but a stand-in for the feminine side of the masculine psyche. When "the monster displaces the woman as the site of the spectacle", we may merely be witnessing a displacement of one of Man's doubles by another; a moment when the text shifts gears from the Symbolic register into a mythic dimension, where unspeakable truths about masculine desire can be given poetic expression.

Some of these displacements may be mapped in Alien, where part-objects are glimpsed in the half-light on wanderings through labyrinthine interiors (the Mother's body) in search of desired objects. In the evolution of the screenplay, as well as in the narrative, Ripley takes her place as a stand-in for the masculine hero Dallas. This displacement towards the feminine at the level of character - hailed as a liberal feminist triumph by some critics - is associated with an often violent 'return' of maternal elements of masculinity, exemplified in the gruesome masculine birth scene, a desublimated portrayal of the desires at work in the 'business as usual' of mining, refining and production carried out by the military-industrial corporation on whose ship most of the action takes place. The representatives of corporate authority are an unyielding womby computer called Mother, and the treacherous android science officer Ash, a mother's brother figure and double for the Alien. The relations between the corporation and the Aliens are further elaborated in the sequel, where the nesting of the Alien Queen in the core of the human settlement parallels the company's terraforming activities. To defeat the Queen, Ripley has to become a cyborg monster herself, equipped with electro-mechanical exoskeleton. 11

A post-oedipal formation, characterized by the desublimation of the pre-Oedipal elements of cultural production, is discernible in these films. The metaphorics of power and desire have been recentred from the phallic patriarchal man to the maternal corporation (Big Mother) and its polymorphous children/products. In science fiction, as in the real world, the fertility of this man-made corporate matrix can only be sustained by sadistic plunder and appropriation of planetary resources, which might account for why the 'highest' technological fantasies seem to be haunted by the most abject and anti-social monsters, representing the excess of technoscientific desire over technoscientific rationality.

Monsters like the Alien are readily decipherable in terms from Kleinian psychoanalysis as aggregations of interchangeable part-objects expressing perverse and sadistic fantasies. 12 A crucial weakness in Lacanian psychoanalytic models of gender representation concerns the character of the phallus. As many feminist critics have commented, for all that Lacan insists that the phallus is a signifier, not an anatomical referent, the only explanation for its excessive significance is given in terms of the turgidity, erectility, and reproductive function of the male organ. Yet if the organ is so impressive, why is its direct representation such a rare sight in popular culture? Why does the phallus always appear as some other object Woman-fetish, gun, camera, sky-scraper, rocket, etc.? Does not this absence of the penis suggest the organ lacks what it takes to signify the phallus? Lacan was actually familiar with another possible explanation of why the penis is an inadequate signifier: the phallus acquires its symbolic status by becoming invested with extra-penile elements. As he knew from reading Klein, the penis first acquires symbolic value as a substitute for the (absent or bad) breast; it may be initially desired as a part-object promising oral gratification; the child in phantasy supposes the Mother's body to contain penises; through the equation 'penis = breast', weaning becomes analogous to castration, and loss of the phallus equivalent to separation from the Mother. The Lacanian insistence that the meaning of the phallus is always-already given by the Symbolic and retroactively imposed on the pre Oedipal has proved all too effective a tactic for blocking inquiry into the 'excess' of pre-Oedipal meanings invested in the phallus.

The phallus, whose meanings in the Symbolic register include propriety (self-same, correct, ordered, possessing) and paternity, becomes in the Mythic register something like the rapacious monster in Alien. This polymorphous beast leaps from its egg as an orally raping penis-breast, to be succeeded by its second stage, a toothed penis (penis dentatus) which gnaws its way out of its surrogate (male) mother's chest, and transforms into a penis-headed, double-jawed excremental monster that looks like space machinery and chews up most of the crew. With no Father in sight, this greedy dickhead has a multitude of Mothers: the derelict spaceship, and inside that, the fossilised extraterrestrial already exploded from within by this 'bad object', and the blue-lit hatchery; the unfortunate Kane; the Mother ship (acting with Ash to keep the Alien alive). In the sequence meet the actual mother of this "sonofabitch": the vagina dentata Queen.

The study of such monstrosities casts new light on the relations between phallocentrism, sublimation, and the Oedipal. Whilst the Oedipal enforces a suppression of pre-Oedipal elements in the speaking subject, it also authorises the Man's entry into male-dominated realms of cultural production, in which the perverse, maternal-related, bisexual, extra-genital and sadistic fantasies of the pre-Oedipal can find expression as sublimations. Phallocentrism may be defined, not as that symbolic order which values the phallus in and of itself, but as that which insists all these other polymorphous eroticisms be appropriated to and masqueraded as phallic. In this way are obscured the womb-like associations of the sky-scraper, the oral incorporative aspect of the camera, the anal thrust of the gun or rocket, the possibility that the Woman-fetish signifies castration not because she lacks the phallus, but because she can bite it off; the possibility that Man's potency is measured not by its pure masculinity, but its success in appropriating and emulating the maternal.

Along with presuming the Symbolic is adequate to masculine desire, feminist film theorists have tended to assume a masculine model of vision, as illustrated in the following quote from E. Ann Kaplan's chapter "Is the Gaze Male?":

The gaze is not necessarily male (literally), but to own and activate the gaze, given our language and the structure of the unconscious, is to be in the 'masculine' position.... film narratives are organized by dreams of a male-based language and discourse which parallels the language of the unconscious ... voyeurism and fetishism are mechanisms the dominant cinema uses to construct the male spectator in accordance with the needs of his unconscious.' 13

Though Kaplan denies the literalness of the 'male gaze', she offers no alternative to the Freudian model of vision lurking in the background, where the eye is thought of a penis, staring as erection, and blindness as castration. In his excellent retheorization of the psychoanalysis of vision, Otto Fenichel rejected this model, arguing that the primary symbolic associations of the eye are not phallic, but vaginal and oral; he suggested that photography and film-watching are acts of cannibalistic appropriation. 14 One wonders where feminist film theory would be now had Mulvey been familiar with Fenichel in 1975, and elaborated the vagina dentata as a metaphor of vision. Even without such a model, critics such as those in the Re-Vision collection have not failed to notice the possibilities for women's looking in film.

Freud is particularly clear on the phallic and Oedipal associations of vision when discussing "The Sandman" in his paper on the Uncanny. But readers of Hoffmann's story will find much evidence of another metaphorics of vision: eyes are portrayed as enviable objects and equated with the moon and food (the Sandman feeds eyeballs to his children). Nathaniel's voyeuristic fascination with Olympia - mediated by a telescope seems typically heterosexual, but we must pause to consider possible differences in the erotic formations of gazing at a woman and staring at a tool (even if it is a "fembot"). In failing to distinguish these positions, we miss noticing a crucial connection between vision and the techno-scientific quest for artificial life.

The film Metropolis furnishes a comparable cinematic example. The scene where the robot is unveiled to the men of the Yoshiwara nightclub may be interpreted in conventional terms as a fetishistic representation of woman, object of the masculine gaze. The false Maria, wearing a semicircular head-dress and standing straight (i.e. looking like a phallus), emerges from a lacework domed structure, recalling both the breast and womb, and Botticelli's Venus: a penis-breast (we recall Aphrodite's origin as the Father's genital). In this high camp scene, shots of the "fembot" dancing are intercut and superimposed with prismatic multiplications of eyes. The men are caught up in a homoerotic specular economy, engaged in collective admiration of this corporate phallus, this Athena figure produced as a tool of the state. But if the "fembot" is the penis-breast (or phallus), what are the organ associations of the eyes that gaze upon her? Are they not complements of the penis-breast: the vagina dentata? Aside from their metaphorical associations with vision, vagina dentata figures are overdetermined within a masculine homosexual economy, both as signifiers of what is feared in women, and as objects with which to identify (in oral sex, the penis becomes a penis-breast in the vagina dentata of the partner's mouth).

The robot was fashioned in the likeness of Rotwang's former beloved Hel, whose name connotes 'light' in German. She represents a fulfilment of a visually oriented masculine fertility fantasy - in which Man circumvents normal reproduction, and brings dead matter (psychoanalytically, excrement) to life by bringing it to light. Rotwang and other 'crazy scientists' of science fiction are descendants of Victor Frankenstein, the scientist who probed the borders of life and death, robbing crypts and graves for body parts which he sutured together, his "eyes starting from their sockets" in his "workshop of filthy creation" (the technological womb) from which his monster was animated (with the aid of lightning). The psychoanalytic meta-narrative governing Frankenstein is not that of the child's Oedipal accession to the law and symbolic language of the Father, but the epistemophilic narrative of discovery and reparation, described by Klein as a penetration and plunder of the Mother's body in search of objects and materials, followed by attempts to make reparation by producing new bodies. Frankenstein's curiosity is portrayed as an insatiable hunger for knowledge, the eye of discovery as a devouring mouth, and the act of monstrous creation as a guilty attempt to resurrect maternal remains (see especially Chapters 3-5 of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein).

Frankenstein's monster shares his maker's epistemophilic interests, and one of the poignant and frequently discussed scenes of the novel is where the monster spies through a peephole upon scenes of domestic harmony and love in the de Lacey family, from whom he learns language and history. It is in this voyeuristic moment that Frankenstein meets Psycho, in another famous scene, where Norman Bates looks through a hole in the wall at Marion Crane undressing. The Psycho scene is frequently taken as paradigmatic of the controlling, possessing and quintessentially phallic power of the masculine gaze over Woman. But again, a reading open to bisexual dimensions of masculinity might find in this image not a pure phallicism, but a representation of the devouring, incorporative, even vaginal aspects of vision. The eye is not only a penetrating and probing organ, but also, as emblematised by the figure of the peephole, something that is open and incorporative, that can take in bodies and knowledge.

The cinematic motif of the image framed by a keyhole is taken up as a metaphor of the woman's gaze in Judith Mayne's paper on women's films, while in a related essay, Mary Ann Doane finds "images of women looking at windows or waiting at windows abound" in these films. 15 Doane correctly interprets as "epistemological" the paranoid wanderings of the female gaze in search of secrets through interior spaces; the epistemophilic gaze is evidently not restricted to masculine vision.

The peephole is one variety of a class of images I have called 'the lumen', from the Latin word meaning both light and cavity or hole. Lumen images have become more evident in science fiction films since the psychedelic light-hole of the Star Gate in 2001: A Space Odyssey. One of Spielberg's favourite motifs is the illuminated crack of a slightly open door, now a common advertising image, while the title sequence of Aliens includes a paradigmatic lumen (the slightly dilated vaginal 'I' of ALIENS). The lumen figure has profound connections with the history of western philosophy, a project renamed as photology by Irigaray.' 6 The primal lumen would be what Irigaray calls "the forgotten vagina", site of the first coming-to-light. Enlightenment theologians and philosophers considered human intelligence as light, calling it the 'lumen naturale', or natural light, i.e. Man's innate faculty for reason. The phrase amplifies associations of knowledge with fertility - 'natural' connotes birth, nativity. 'Lumen naturale' could thus be translated as 'birthing-hole to the light' . In scientific enlightenment, the eye becomes a substitute vagina: a vagina dentata, the cannibaleye feeding on its objects of knowledge; or a passage by which the brain-womb is impregnated with spermatic rays and information; or a birth canal, through which imagined ideals are projected into the light of the real (aided of course by the hands that actually "dabble in dirt" in the labour of transforming it).

Film itself forms part of this elaborated fantasy of rebirth through enlightenment, consisting as it does in the sutured-together remains of past lives reanimated in light-play: cinema as Frankensteinian monster. The lumen is a highly overdetermined cinematic figure, likely to appear in almost any film in one guise or another because of its profound poetic resonances with many aspects of cinema itself. Each cell of film might be considered a lumen, a passage from light to half-life. The screen itself is a lumen, a light-hole in the dark, a window into another (luminous) reality, but at the same moment a screen on which to optically re-activate (by speedy projection from the rear) the photochemical traces of past lives.

In conclusion: the language centred model of sexual difference has helped critics decipher the Symbolic operations mediating gendered subjectivity in realist narratives where 'Woman' constitutes the trouble in the text. But this model obscures more than it clarifies the eroticisms of Mythic texts, where the substitution of a monster or woman-figure for the masculine psyche, and the use of special effects are among the tactics deployed to express masculine fantasies and unspeakable 'truths' excessive to official discourses on gender and cultural production. Excessive aspects of masculinity referred to here include pre-Oedipal significations of the phallus, oral and vaginal associations of vision, fertility fantasies of rebirth through enlightenment, and the perverse pleasures of sublimation. Other areas for investigation include homoeroticism and polymorphous figures that aren't 'bisexual' .

Failure to distinguish between feminine and masculine femininities and maternal figures can result in misreadings of masculine perversity as feminist progress. That which is excessive is not necessarily undecidable, and the undecidable need not be subversive. Undecidability and monstrous excess may well strain the fabric of Symbolic representation, and threaten to disrupt official discourses on masculinity, without thereby discomforting adherents to fantasies of artificial regeneration and technological maternity played out by corporate powers. When it comes to matters of technology, sexual difference has been superseded by a spectre of autogamous masculine motherhood, but the two-gender model persists nevertheless as a mystifying cover story to defer and deflect critical scrutiny of socially valued perversions (sublimations). How ideologically convenient it is if even feminist critics compulsively place the undecidable on the side of Woman, and how politically dangerous, if by slipshod thought this undecidable textual femininity is equated with the incoherent discourse of actual women. How then could we name the standpoint from which feminists like myself probe, dissect, and analyse masculinist mythology in order to enlighten ourselves and others as to some of its more obscure components, so that subsequent cultural interventions can decisively challenge the latencies as well as the manifest surfaces of oppressive and life-destroying cultural tendencies. In any case, we remind ourselves that subversiveness, like beauty - and monstrosity - is less a property of the text than of its beholder.


1. Laura Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema", Screen, v.16, n.3 (Autumn 1975), p.7.

2. Clearly, this discussion intersects with debates on feminism, post-structuralism, and the question of ecriture feminine, addressing the pros and cons of interpreting textual undecidability as the feminine, or the maternally-related "semiotic" (Kristeva). See, for example, the Introduction to Alice Jardine, Gynesis: Configurations of Woman and Modernity (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1985); part two of Toril Moi's Sexual/Textual Politics (London: Methuen, 1985); Chris Weedon's chapter on "Feminist Poststructuralism and Psychoanalysis" in Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987); Jane Flax, "Postmodernism and C-ender Relations in Feminist Theory', Signs (Summer 1987): 621-643; and Elizabeth Grosz's excellent explication and discussion of French feminist theory in her new book Sexual Subversions (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1989). For an earlier essay clarifying the problems of equating Woman and the unconscious in feminist film theory, see Jacqueline Rose, "The Cinematic Apparatus: Problems in Current Theory", in Teresa de Lauretis and Stephen Heath, eds. The Cinematic Apparatus (London: Macmillan, 1980), pp. 172-185, esp. pp. 180-83.

3. Freud, "Civilized Sexual Morality and Modern Nervous Illness" (1908), S.E. 9:187.

4. Teresa de Lauretis, Alice Doesn't: Feminism, Semiotics, Cinema (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1984), p.45.

5. Laura Mulvey, "Changes", Discourse 3 (1986), pp.11-30.

6. Jacqueline Rose, "Femininity and its Discontents", Feminist Review 14 (Summer 1983), pp.521 .

7. Teresa de Lauretis, "The Technology of Gender", in Technologies of Gender (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1987),pp.1-30.

8. Linda Williams, "When the Woman Looks", in M.A. Doane, P. Mellencamp and L. Williams, eds. Re-Vision: Essays in Feminist Film Criticism (Washington, D.C.: American Film Institute, 1984), pp.83-89.

9. Williams, 'When the Woman Looks", p.87.

10. This argument is made incisively by Constance Penley in "Feminism, Film Theory and the Bachelor Machines", m/f 10 (1985); pp.39-59.

11. If we follow Donna Haraway, it is the cyborg image, not the represented woman per se that is potentially liberating here; "A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s", Socialist Review 80 (1985), pp.65-107.

12. For a thoroughly Kleinian reading of Alien see Krin Gabbard and Glen G. Gabbard, "The Science Fiction Film and Psychoanalysis: Alien and Melanie Klein's Night Music", in Maurice Charney and Joseph Reppen, eds. Psychoanalytic Approaches to Literature and Film (New Jersey and London: Associated University Press, 1987), pp.171-179. For a feminist Kleinian reading in relation to the metaphorics of multinational capitalism, see Z. Sofia, "Alien Pre-Oedipus: Penis-Breast, Cannibaleyes", paper for "Themes in Drama" conference, University of California, Riverside, 1983 (unpubl. ms available from author).

13. E. Ann Kaplan, Women and Film: Both Sides of the Camera, p.30.

14. Otto Fenichel, "The Scopophilic Instinct and Identification", Collected Papers: Second Series (New York: Norton, 1954), pp.373-97.

15. Judith Mayne, "The Woman at the Keyhole: Women's Cinema and Feminist Criticism", and Mary Ann Doane, 'The Woman's Film': Possession and Address", in Re-Vision.

16. Irigaray's meditations on "Plato's Hystera" in Speculum of the Other Woman (trans. Gillian C Gill; Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1986) clarify the metaphoric associations of the eye with head, womb, cave, anus in the homoerotic scene of ideal vision, as well as explore the supplementary character of Mother/material which is hollowed out and turned into a resource for masculinist projections.

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