It boggles my mind to see that some seminal feminist theory comes out of Freud’s phallocentric psychoanalysis. I don’t think I could have imagined anything more anathema to feminism than the essentialist concept of penis envy.
One feminist theorist – Joan Riviere in her essay Womanliness as Masquerade implies that intellectual ability is innately masculine. At the same time as holding the Freud’s gender essentialism, she suggests that “masculine” women must masquerade womanliness. I’m not sure how masculinity can be determined by having a penis at the same time as femininity is performed.
The reader may now ask how I define womanliness or where I draw the line between genuine womanliness and the ‘masquerade’. My suggestion is not, however, that there is any such difference; whether radical or superficial. they are the same thing. The capacity for womanliness was there in this woman ? and one might even say it exists in the most completely homosexual woman … (Joan Riviere, WOMANLINESS AS A MASQUERADE, p38)