Through a reading of Dora’s confession, a set of general oppositions can be deduced: Men (active – dominant – external – objective) and Women (passive – submissive – internal – subjective). What characterizes these oppositions based on fundamental biological differences is not merely an asymmetrical antithesis between male and female, but a more insidious opposition based on presence and absence.
Our discussion in seminar brought to light two points: all of Dora’s symptoms, generally grouped under hysteria, can ultimately be reduced to a passivity, which, according to Freud, is characteristic of the female disposition. If we consider the biological facts on which hinges Freud’s entire theoretical apparatus, the female genitalia can be considered as an interiority, while the male genitalia is an exteriority. This is revealing. An implicit presupposition permeates Freuds work, the notion that the interiority of the female must be filled by the penetrative exteriority of the male. Thus, the female represents a lack, while the male represents a fulfillment. Such a notion directly necessitates an opposition between dominance and submission during the sexual act, as the male is the active penetrating agent and the female is the passive receiving agent.
All this is not new. However, based on the opposition between interiority and exteriority, a perplexing opposition between subject and object arises. The male, let us say Herr K., becomes an extensive objective agent while Dora becomes a subject, both in the sense of intensities (Deleuze) and, perhaps more obviously, as a position of subjection. It is at this point also, the opposition between presence and abscence reveals itself. The prescription of vibrators as a treatment to hysteria demonstrates a certain denial of female sexuality. Because the female genitalia is not seen, it is considered to be merely a space and an absence. The element of subjectivity resides in the fact that female sexual pleasure cannot be affirmed in an external manner such as male ejaculation, as such, female sexual pleasure exists only on an interior and intensive level, which cannot be objectively proven.
As such, a hierarchy is established with external-objective-presence over internal-subjective-abscence. Indeed, the notion that females ‘desire to be desired’ is nothing but the transmutation of positive action into a negative reaction. This play of forces, seen on the level of male vs. female sex, brings to light the fact that for Freud, female sexuality gravitates around a core presupposition of passive-absence. It is no surpise that vibrators, a kind of subsititute ‘filling-device’ is proscribe for hysteria caused by sustained periods of abstinence.
But, it is interesting to note that, with these notions brought to light, a rereading of Freud’s text can be undertaken from the position of the subjected term. If, reading the text from the position of absence, a counter-text is revealed, then I think the reader should not be surprised, for he would have ‘discovered’ the unconscious ground from which Freud wrote. I think this should be done. Lets explode Freud with Freud.