|The Sadeian Woman
||[Sep. 24th, 2006|10:37 pm]
the Angela Carter Community
In The Sadeian Woman Angela Carter gives us a re-evaluation of the work of the Marquis de Sade from a feminist perspective. She sees de Sade as the prototype of the moral pornographer. He viewed the relations between the sexes (and between the classes) honestly and without hypocrisy. He shows sex as being about power, as being a social relation that is dependent on social and political structures. He also frees female sexuality from the function of reproduction and emphasises that it is not gender that matters but power. De Sade also demonstrates an understanding of the mechanics of the female orgasm that is a little surprising when you consider the complete ignorance on that topic that prevailed through much of the following century. Carter looks at de Sade’s best-known works, particularly Justine and Juliette. The eponymous heroine of Justine believes that virtue will be rewarded, and despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary continues to believe this. She is also convinced that virtue, in a woman, is entirely a matter of sex – as long as you don’t have sex, or if you must have sex as long as you don’t enjoy it you are automatically virtuous. In fact Carter tells us that Justine’s behaviour is often astonishingly selfish and even callous because of this profound misunderstanding of the nature of virtue. Her sister Juliette does not share her delusions. She embraces vice with enthusiasm, and she gets everything she wants. The fact that she is a woman does not prevent her from gaining both wealth and power. Justine is powerless not because she is female but because she misunderstands the nature of society.|
Carter also relates de Sade’s work to the way women have been depicted in Hollywood, with Marilyn Monroe being a version of Justine. The Sadeian Woman is Angela Carter at her most provocative.