Luce Irigaray (ee-ree-gah-ray), a Parisian psychoanalyst, was a founding member of the earliest French feminist group, called Politique et Psychanalyse (Psych et Po), established in 1968. She was born and grew up in Belgium and taught high school in Brussels until 1959, when she moved to Paris to continue a university career. For fifteen years she worked on degrees in philosophy, linguistics, and psychoanalysis, later becoming director of research at the prestigious Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). From 1970 to 1974 she taught at the University of Paris VIII, but she was dismissed because of the controversial nature of her doctoral dissertation, which took issue with Freudian theories in vogue at the time.
Irigaray became active in the women’s liberation movement of the 1970’s in France and fought for the legalization of contraceptives and abortion. She traveled widely, speaking at conferences in Europe, the United States, and Canada in support of women’s rights. She has taught in universities in Holland, Italy, and Canada. In her writing, Irigaray, along with fellow psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva, has insisted that women cannot be described or identified, and cannot attain equality, without a complete break with the “phallocentric” or patriarchal discourse that has dominated Western thought. Insisting on the importance of such a written revolution, she and other members of Psych et Po founded the influential Paris publishing house Des Femmes and a journal, Des Femmes en mouvement.
Psych et Po represents a theoretical and intellectual approach to sexual difference, and Irigaray, as a principal spokeswoman, insists that the new understanding must lie somewhere outside male-dominated discourse....
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