||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2010)|
|Born||3 May 1930
Blaton, Bernissart, Wallonia, Belgium
|Notable ideas||"women on the market"|
Luce Irigaray (born 3 May 1930) is a Belgian-born French feminist, philosopher, linguist, psychoanalyst, sociologist and cultural theorist. She is best known for her works Speculum of the Other Woman (1974) and This Sex Which Is Not One (1977).
In 1985 Irigaray wrote This Sex Which is Not One which argues, among other things, that women are treated as commodities (see the essay "Women on the Market"). Irigaray draws upon Karl Marx’s theory of capital and commodities to show how women are exchanged between men in the same way as any other commodity is. She argues that our entire society is predicated on this exchange of women. The exchange of women is primarily used to allow men to have homosocial relations with each other, since it is always men negotiating the exchange between one another. A woman fits in with Marx’s definition of commodity because she is reduced to her exchange value and her physical “use value” disappears. Her exchange value is determined by society, while her use value is her natural qualities. This divide creates a schism between nature and society, with society ultimately subordinating nature to a non-value. Thus, a woman’s self is divided between her use and exchange values, and she is only desired for the exchange value. This system creates three types of women: the mother, who is all use value; the virgin, who is all exchange value; and the prostitute, who embodies both use and exchange value.
Within the same essay, “Women on the Market,” Irigaray uses additional Marxist foundations to argue that women are in demand due to their perceived shortage and as a result, males seek “to have them all," or seek a surplus like the excess of commodity buying power, capital, that capitalists seek constantly. Irigaray speculates thus that perhaps, “the way women are used matter less than their number." In this further analogy of women “on the market,” understood through Marxist terms, Irigaray points out that women, like commodities, are moved between men based on their exchange value rather than just their use value, and the desire will always be surplus – making women almost seem like capital in this case, to be accumulated. “As commodities, women are thus two things at once: utilitarian objects and bearers of value."
Many feminists seek to criticize the perceived essentialist positions of Luce Irigaray. However, there is much debate among scholars as to whether or not Irigaray's theory of sexual difference is, indeed, an essentialist one.
W. A. Borody has criticised Luce Irigaray's phallogocentric argument as misrepresenting the history of philosophies of "indeterminateness" in the West. Luce Irigaray's "black and white" claims that the masculine=determinateness and that the feminine=indeterminateness contain a degree of cultural and historical validity, but not when it is deployed to self-replicate a similar form of the gender-othering it originally sought to overcome.
Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont, in their book critiquing postmodern thought (Fashionable Nonsense, 1997), criticize Luce Irigaray on several grounds. In their view, she wrongly regards E=mc2 as a "sexed equation" because she argues that "it privileges the speed of light over other speeds that are vitally necessary to us". They also take issue with the assertion that fluid mechanics is unfairly neglected because it deals with "feminine" fluids in contrast to "masculine" rigid mechanics; in a review of Sokal and Bricmont's book, Richard Dawkins dryly points out that: You don't have to be a physicist to smell out the daffy absurdity of this kind of argument (...), but it helps to have Sokal and Bricmont on hand to tell us the real reason why turbulent flow is a hard problem (the Navier–Stokes equations are difficult to solve).
Selected bibliography 
- Speculum of the Other Woman, 1974 (Eng. trans. 1985 by Gillian C. Gill)
- This Sex Which Is Not One, 1977 (Eng. trans. 1985)
- When Our Lips Speak Together, 1977
- And the One Doesn't Stir without the Other, 1979 (Eng. trans. 1981)
- Marine Lover: Of Friedrich Nietzsche, 1980 (Eng. trans. 1991 by Gillian C. Gill)
- Elemental Passions, 1982 (Eng. trans. 1992)
- Belief Itself, 1983
- The Forgetting of Air: In Martin Heidegger, 1983 (Eng. trans. 1999)
- An Ethics of Sexual Difference, 1984 (Eng. trans. 1993 by Gillian C. Gill)
- To Speak is Never Neutral, 1985 (Eng. trans. 2002)
- Sexes and Genealogies, 1987 (Eng. trans. 1993 by Gillian C. Gill)
- Thinking the Difference: For a Peaceful Revolution, 1989 (Eng. trans. 1993)
- Je, tu, nous: Towards a Culture of Difference, 1990 (Eng. trans. 1993)
- I Love to You: Sketch for a Felicity Within History, 1990 (Eng. trans. 1993)
- Democracy Begins Between Two, 1994 (Eng. trans. 2000)
- To Be Two, 1997 (Eng. trans. 2001)
- Between East and West: From Singularity to Community, 1999 (Eng. trans. 2001)
- The Way of Love, 2002
- Sharing the World (Eng. trans. 2008)
- Irigaray, L. (2008), "In Science, is the Subject Sexed?", in Continental Philosophy of Science (ed. G. Gutting), Blackwell Publishing Ltd
See also 
- Feminism and the Oedipus complex
- Hélène Cixous
- Julia Kristeva
- List of deconstructionists
- Strategic essentialism
- Irigaray, L. (1985) "Women on the Market." in Rivkin, J.; Ryan, M. (eds) (1998). Literary theory, an anthology. Malden, Mass: Blackwell. pp. 799 –811. ISBN 9780631200291..
- Christine Delphy, L'Ennemi principal, tome 2 : Penser le genre (2001)
- Wayne A. Borody (1998) pp. 3, 5 Figuring the Phallogocentric Argument with Respect to the Classical Greek Philosophical Tradition Nebula: A Netzine of the Arts and Science, Vol. 13 (pp. 1–27) (http://kenstange.com/nebula/feat013/feat013.html).
- Sokal, Alan (2003). Intellectual impostures : postmodern philosophers' abuse of science. London: Profile Books. ISBN 9781861976314. cited in Dawkins, R. "Postmodernism disrobed", Nature (journal), vol. 394, pp. 141-143, 9 July, 1998. Retrieved 18 March, 2008.