FEMALE FETISHISM by Lorraine Gamman

FEMALE FETISHISM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A potentially controversial suggestion that women fetishize food, among other things. Hoping to ``dismantle certainties about what constitutes perversity,'' with the ultimate goal of expanding the limits of sexual diversity, British academics Gammon (Cultural Studies and Product Design/Central St. Martin's College of Art and Design) and Makinen (History of Ideas/Middlesex Univ.) review the history of fetishism and describe three types: anthropological, commodity, and sexual. They further posit a fourth type, food fetishism, most clearly linked with the sexual. The authors propose stages, or intensities, for all four categories of fetishism, for which the definitions vary and are theoretically difficult, but have in common a ``process of disavowal...objects in our culture take on meanings that connect them to, or stand in for, other meanings and associations.'' The easiest category to comprehend is the sexual, when an object (such as a shoe) is used instead of a person for sexual pleasure. The authors devote a significant amount of text to ruling out things that are frequently thought of as fetishes, and other things that could be. Despite the widely recognized phallocentric bias of Freudian psychoanalytic theory, they remain at least partially within its framework, even though Freud believed that fetishes grew out of male castration anxiety and thus didn't believe that women had fetishes. The authors maintain that women have always fetishized in a variety of ways, and they provide a persuasive theoretical argument that women fetishize food, pointing to the widespread phenomenon of eating disorders in the Western world. They end with a reading of fetishism that suggests postmodernism has as much to offer to the understanding of women and fetishism as does psychoanalytic theory. Their valiant effort to read women into psychoanalytic theory mixes in postmodern analyses in an attempt to acknowledge the full range of female fetishism. Intriguing and almost--but not quite--persuasive. (13 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: March 21st, 1995
ISBN: 0-8147-3071-X
Page count: 236pp
Publisher: New York Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995




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