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Chicago: LAUREN

June 2nd, 2008 · 1 Comment

Back in April of last year, when I met up with Emma in Chicago to do a few sample interviews and test out GIRLdrive, one of the feminists we interviewed was Lauren Berlant (left), a professor of English at the University of Chicago and an influential feminist thinker. To this day, we still consider it one of the most important interviews we did, one of those long, meandering conversations during which you have several epiphanies. We remember one moment in particular, when Lauren addressed the issue of reconciling “work” (feminism, intellect) with “play” (happiness, sex). It’s stuck with us ever since:

“As an intellectual, feminist or not, you are constantly being called to say what you are thinking and describe what you are doing all the time. Then there are these spaces for an interruption or a relief…the “appetite” spaces, like eating and fucking and watching TV and hanging out with your friends. What feminism hoped for was forms of pleasure that would also be about self-development, where your forms of self-cultivation would also be your pleasure. We have to admit that pleasure is not just about eloquence, culture, clarity. Its also fogginess and sex. Once you think about sex as a place where you lose control, it’s to some extent contrary to intellect and feminism as a theory. If feminism is about control, and sex is about losing control, how do you reconcile that?”


Tags: Generations

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 GIRLdrive // Jun 13, 2008 at 11:23 am

    from lberlant
    date Thu, Jun 12, 2008 at 3:28 PM
    subject Re: blog entry!

    I was thinking this morning about whether I still believe what I said. Now I think I’d add that what some parts of feminism wanted to do, wants to do, is to expand the sensorium, the habituated affects, the world to which people’s desire responds, so that the loss of control and expansion of boundaries that constitute sexuality and intimacy can take in new objects and kinds of people, scenes, and things. A training in the work of becoming unclenched and open still operates in tension with the intelligence and enhanced will that feminism also encourages women to build: but the work of rehardwiring the appetites requires work on both ends.

    Good review of sex and the city too. I wish any of these women had even passed feminism on the sidewalk; then they would see sex as something one should talk to one’s lovers about, not as something that goes without saying except in the domains of the longing and disappointment one reports to one’s friends.

    In solidarity, LB

    Lauren Berlant
    George M. Pullman Professor
    Department of English
    Chair, Lesbian and Gay Studies Project
    Center for Gender Studies

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