Freud spoke of the “repudiation of femininity” as being an “underlying bedrock”, part of the “enigma” of sexuality. The enigma is not so much the refusal of the feminine dimension as such; it has more to do with rejecting its erotic and genital aspects, as well as its creation through sexual ecstatic pleasure. Equality between the sexes is a legitimate demand in the political, social, and economic spheres, but forming a masculine–feminine relationship as a couple is a creation of the mind, exalting the acknowledgement of the otherness which is part of the difference between the sexes. There is a conflict in woman – and the feminine dimension itself is rooted in it – between a sexuality that demands “defeat” and an ego that abhors this. It is the man’s masculine dimension – the antagonist of the phallic one – which creates the feminine dimension in women, by tearing away their defences and generating sexual ecstasy. The quality of the sexual, emotional, and social relationship that is set up between a man and a woman bears witness to the “work of civilization” (Kulturarbeit).
Preamble -- Preface -- Repudiating the Feminine Sphere (The Sphinx and Her Forlorn Soul) -- Epistle to the Reader -- Freud and the "repudiation of femininity" -- The "internal foreign body" -- The difference between the sexes -- The "lover-for-ecstatic-pleasure" -- Clinical examples -- The witch-hunt (a tale of hatred of the feminine sphere) -- In Conclusion -- Preludes to the Feminine Sphere -- Horror feminae, or non-dangerous de-liaisons -- "The Sleeping Beauty"—the advent of the feminine sphere in girls -- The tenant: the vagina on lease from the anus -- Rubies abhor red: hysterical relationships and counter-cathexes -- Hysterical identification and projective identification -- From narcissistic to traumatic seduction (when the siren meets the snake) -- "I love you": words of betrayal or words betrayed? -- The family album: reality-testing and remembering—re-finding the object -- Gradiva: representations of the feminine sphere -- Postscript