Ludic Feminism and After: Postmodernism, Desire, and Labor in Late Capitalism
Following the equal-rights struggles of the 1960s, feminism became involved in the theoretical problems posed by poststructuralism, psychoanalysis, semiotics, queer theory, postcolonialism, and Marxism. After years of debate about whether feminism can or should accommodate these other modes of contemporary thought, Ludic Feminism and After provides a way of making a leap forward.
Teresa Ebert rethinks such notions as "pleasure," "essentialism," "performance," "labor," "class," "body," and "difference" through readings of influential texts by feminists such as Gayatri Spivak, Rigoberta Mench, Donna Haraway, Jane Gallop, Judith Butler, Diana Fuss, and Teresa de Lauretis. She not only engages the theories of Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, and Baudrillard, but also moves beyond the academic arena to address the "backlash" phenomenon and the writings of "popular" critics like Camille Paglia. Ebert argues that the crisis of feminist theory in postmodernity is about the very meaning of politics and the possibility for effective social change.
The future of feminism and feminist theory, believes Ebert, lies in reclaiming radical knowledge(s) that have been obscured by what she calls "ludic theory": the branch of postmodernism that sees politics primarily as a linguistic and textual practice, and focuses on subverting cultural representations of difference. She argues instead for the possibilities of a "resistance postmodernism" in feminism: theory grounded in the social struggle over the "material differences" of labor and access to economic means and resources.
Ebert's provocative and powerful book challenges ludic feminism within the academy, and outlines transformative politics and feminist theory that can address material crises, such as the international trade in young women for prostitution, dowry murders in India, and the genocidal rape in Bosnia. The author seeks to go beyond dominant theories to open a radically new space for an active third wave feminism. Ludic Feminism and After is sure to be influential and controversial.
Teresa Ebert is Associate Professor of English, State University of New York at Albany.
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In Ludic Feminism Teresa Ebert paints Zizek as a bourgeouis dreamer and as not materialist enough. She equates the Real with real struggles and says that Zizek ignores real struggles:
“The traumatic kernel of the Real … is unknowable only in so far as the bourgeois intellectual is deeply invested in the refusal to know the basis of wealth, power, privilege, and pleasure in capitalism: the refusal to know the exploitation of labor and his or her own position in it. Zizek secures this unintelligibility of the real by equating and completetely restricting the symbolic to the realm of bourgeois ideology…” (p. 63)
Ebert throws together very different symptoms and levels of symptoms:
“Zizek blocks any materialist or symptomatic explanation of the lacks, disruptions, and crises in the everyday as effects of the historical social contradictions… Zizek’s answer is … to … “enjoy your symptom.” This is the basic obsession of the bourgeoisie, is it not? Fear of losing its enjoyment, fear of any restriction of its individual pleasure. … ” (p. 63)
Ebert apparently does not know that Zizek is all about leaving the state of desire and arriving at the state of drive:
“Theory … is the site of … the social struggles over the exploitation of labor … . Zizek is a prominent player in this struggle, for he manages to articulate the dream of bourgeois theory: to ban labor and exploitation altogether from our knowledges and instead to leave us entirely in the realm of enjoyment, pleasure, and desire - which has become the hegemonic arena of (non)knowledge…” (p. 64)
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Excessive Bodies Essentialism Indeterminacy and Retrofeminism