· Vatican City ·


To say sorority is not a feminist extravagance

Luce Irigaray
26 September 2020

When we say sorority we refer to the relationship between two women or between a woman and a man, but seen from a woman’s perspective. Yet, a question immediately begs to be answered: what does sorority add to fraternity, since the latter, like all male terms, is inclusive, i.e. also applicable to the female?

The first answer that can be given is very simple and immediate: the non concealment of sexual difference.

This difference, in fact, implies two different ways of being in the world, which are not homologable and which require recognition in order not to fall into abstractly theoretical statements about a generic “human being” which, in reality, represents a non-existent neutral.

The use of sorority is not a feminist extravagance, but responds to a precise need to adhere to the concreteness of  an experience, which allows us to grasp peculiarities that, otherwise, would be lost.

In many settings the use of sorority can be fruitful, but here we want to focus on just one aspect, which today is particularly significant for the existence of women and deserves to be implemented.

This is what Luce Irigaray’s “thought of sexual difference”  pertains to and indicates “women’s genealogy”, that is, the entrustment of one woman to another who, through experience and skills, can provide her support in the difficult process of building a complete and harmonious female identity.

The importance of this practice is immediately evident if we consider that in our historical-cultural context the models that are proposed are mainly male and, therefore, such as to arouse feelings of inadequacy and frustration in women.

In this case, sorority may indicate a relationship which, excluding any exercise of power or authority, implies, however, a strong recognition of authority to that of the two women who assume the responsibility of accompanying each other.

The fruitfulness of the concept of sorority derives, therefore, directly from that of the situation to which it refers and which, evidently, cannot find adequate expression with fraternity.

Language and reality must correspond as closely as possible and the richness of the feminine requires that thought knows how to enhance it without flattening it into concepts and terms that are not appropriate to it, because they were founded to indicate a masculine universe with which women can hardly identify.

by Giorgia Salatiello