Victimization has a long, cross-cultural history. The status of the victim has been the source of active and stirring controversy in cultural theory, criminology and legal theory, philosophy and psychoanalysis; it is of particular interest within feminist theory. Can the victim relation be refused? Are we all victims? The aim of this book is to analyze the intersection of gender and the victim, and the role of a libidinal enjoyment (jouissance) in knotting this relation. The enduring link between the construct of the victim and the sacrificial processes at its heart reveals something ultimately compelling about sacrifice. Legislating victimization out of existence will fail because the victim relation is central to the very formation of human subjectivity and implicated in the reproduction of social life. Lacanian psychoanalysis is used to interrogate the limits to arguments for resolving the problem of sacrificial violence: from Girard to Bataille, from Butler to Kristeva, from de Sade to Nietzsche. However, without denying the inevitable structuring power of the signifier, only its relentless reversion, or undoing, will expose the myths that sustain it, and create an opening within the social beyond this impasse. Such a break is theorized through a confrontation of Lacan with Baudrillard.
Introduction 1. Feminism and the Victim 2. The Birth and Death of the Victim 3. Gender and Sacrificial Violence 4. From Mysticism to de Sade 5. There Are No Victims 6. We Are All Victims 7. Victims, Gender and Jouissance