Contra las lecturas esencialistas del devenir-mujer, por Claire Colebrook

por Juan Pablo Anaya

“One might say that it is easier to imagine the end of the world, and the end of capitalism, than it is to think outside the structuring fantasies of gender. There must always be an active male heroism driven by a feminine fragility that appears to hold the promise of the future. Explicit narratives of this form, such as Children of Men (2006) in which a world that has stopped breeding is given feeble hope in the form of a young pregnant woman to be saved by the male lead, are surrounded by less overt regressions to the romance plot and its variants. The Walking Dead (2010), I am Legend (2011), The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), 28 Days Later (2002)—all these imaginings of the end of the world nevertheless remain with a sentimental Oedipal structure of the family. It might make sense to think in Deleuze and Guattari’s terms that ‘becoming-woman’ is the key to all becomings (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 291): gender and sexual binaries seem to be the last archaism in a world that is elsewhere happily posthuman.


If Deleuze and Guattari (1987, 280) had anything to say on the issue it was to insist on becoming-woman as a moment of passage, and so—not surprisingly—they cited Virginia Woolf ’s claim that it would be fatal for writing to ‘think of one’s sex. ’ Given this framing of the concept in Deleuze and Guattari’s corpus, why would one ever waste thought and ink on this relatively isolated, and manifestly transient, notion of becoming-woman?


becoming-woman would not abstract from concrete individuals to individuals in general—would not operate ironically by imagining that justice or humanity would occur as regulative ideas towards which a process of consensus would tend, but never achieve. Nor would becoming-woman be posthuman if posthumanism were taken to be a return of man to a world of living systems of which he would be but one of many instances. Rather, becoming-woman is the beginning of a humor of depths, moving towards the traits, singularities or predicates that have been actualized by differentiation—and then moving towards the intuition of a virtual potentiality that has a full reality beyond the world as it is given. Becoming-woman would be quite distinct from a performative theory of gender, whereby I become who I am by recognizing, and seeking recognition. Rather, becoming-woman enables a creatively destructive theory of sexuality in which genders are decomposed into traits, and then further decomposed into tendencies, moving towards the infinitely small, or ‘a thousand tiny sexes.’ (p. 175)


As already noted, the concept of becoming-woman is not at all similar to strategic essentialism; it is not the tactical adoption of the voice of woman in order to create a political force. On the contrary, becoming-woman acknowledges the reality of traits, intensities and quantities that need to be released from the dull and insufficiently nuanced systems of gender. It is not the case that—as a certain mode of deconstruction would have it—the concept of woman is some imposed abstraction that has no reality, and so one might only speak as a woman parodically or ironically. Nor is it the case that ‘woman’ is some signifier that we are subjected to, which then creates the illusion of the reality of sex. Rather, what has fallen under the concept of woman has more reality than the insufficiently technical and systemic concept of ‘woman’ in its current form allows: what if, historically, what we know as woman were composed from series of complex tendencies? Becoming-woman appears, after all, as a concept in Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus where the modern figure of political man covers over a complex, multiple and intensive history of racial and sexual investments. Practices of marriage, kinship, reproduction, pornography, art, fiction, courting rituals, fashion systems, cosmetic surgery, sports, affective rituals, body styles (and so much more): all these are techniques operating in highly complex ways that neither the notions of gender—as two stable kinds—nor sexual difference (as reproductive chromosomal identity) can intuit. It is fatal, when writing, to think of one’s sex.”

Claire Colebrook, “Just Say No to Becoming Woman (and Post-Feminism)” en Sex After Life descargable aquí: