New Philosophy

Feminist Philosophy

What is Julia Kristeva’s idea of the abject and the nature of women?

Kristeva has emphasized the rejection of mothers by both male and female children due to male-dominated cultural patterns that render the mother herself abject, which is to say, totally other, disgusting, and monstrous. Kristeva thinks that the solution to this problem requires a rediscovery and healing of narcissism in women’s psyches and an acceptance of adult love between women. However, Kristeva rejects the label “woman” as a universal term, and has refused to define women. She apparently believes that every woman is fundamentally different in how she is a woman or what being a woman means. As she wrote:

It is there, in the analysis of her difficult relation to her mother and to her own difference from everybody else, men and women, that a woman encounters the enigma of the “feminine.” I favour an understanding of femininity that would have as many “feminines” as there are women.

Kristeva’s main theoretical writings are: About Chinese Women (1977), Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art (1980), Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (1982), Revolution in Poetic Language (1984), and New Maladies of the Soul (1995).


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