Joanna Fortune – Now That I am Forever With Child

THE LETTER 32 (Autumn 2004) pages 126 -147

There is a voice crying in the wilderness, the voice of a body dancing, laughing, shrieking, crying. Whose is it? It is, they say, the voice of a woman, newborn and yet archaic, a voice of milk and blood, a voice silenced but savage.

In writing this paper I have set myself the task of examining female subjectivity in pregnancy. However, in addition to this being a much larger question than can be addressed in a single paper, it is immediately apparent that in order to examine pregnancy one must first look at female subjectivity itself, and in doing this we must also look to female sexuality, the female position in a patriarchal society, the mother-daughter relationship, and the silence of women surrounding all of the above that led Freud to declare in 1926 ‘that the sexual life of adult women is a dark continent for psychology’.

Lacan’s Seminar XX, Encore, and the current congress in which we find ourselves discussing this seminar provoke a diversity of feelings, thoughts and most importantly, dialogue concerning female subjectivity and more particularly female sexuality. I think that this is not surprising as there is dialogue, questioning and constant debate in society in general regarding female sexuality. But how do we respond to these debates?

I will turn to the work of Helene Deutsch as a starting point. Helene Deutsch is careful from the outset to distinguish between the concept of motherhood, (the relationship of a mother to her child as a whole), and motherliness, which she sees as a quality in a woman’s character and also as emotional phenomena directly connected to the…

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