Being Two in the World: The Bridge Between Sexuate Difference and Cultural Difference in the Work of Luce Irigaray

  • Marita Ryan
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Postmetaphysical Thought book series (PSPMT)


Luce Irigaray’s work on sexuate difference radically challenges Western philosophical and cultural traditions, which are based on a false premise: humans as being universal neuter subjects and hence a culture of the one, and the One. Her recognition and elaboration of sexuate difference allows for the becoming of two subjectivities, a masculine and a feminine, as well as a culture of ‘between two’ as opposed to the culture of the One. While Irigaray’s model of sexuate difference has transformed and critically questions feminist discourse it is by no means limited to this discourse. Her central thesis on sexuate difference also initiates a way forward in cultivating relationships with the other of a different culture, race or tradition, thereby building bridges between her work on sexuate difference and cultural or other differences. Sexuate difference is integral to this passage as it is a fundamental aspect of difference common to all ages, races, traditions and cultures. Using it as a basis to approach a multicultural and intercultural world, in this chapter I will explore how Irigaray’s work provides us with a crucial opportunity to share our world with other cultures as well as with the other sex.I will elucidate how our current mode of valuing difference according to Western norms and principles, especially within our educational system, denies us the fecundity of a relationship between two, where one is irreducible to the other.


Cultural Difference Female Genital Mutilation Legal Reform Feminist Discourse False Premise 
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© Marita Ryan 2015

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  • Marita Ryan

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