Hoda Thabet

The Feminist Sublime

As a horizontal, rather than a vertical process, the Feminist Sublime may offer an organizing principle of discourse capable of embracing doubledness, male/female, and subject/object, without either subjugation or triumph. Transcendence, if it is part of the postmodern sublime, must differ from the egotistical aggrandizement of the classical, masculinist sublime. A sublime that encompasses the structures of power exerted on the subaltern, the grotesque, and hysterical, even as it avoids defining and limiting their experiences and identities, may be useful to feminist analysis.

The Feminist Sublime is a radical revolt from the recreation of such obliteration or marginalization, because it is essentially non-binary, allowing us to reframe, acknowledge and explore our thoughts, language, and beingness in polymorphic rather than dimorphic terms. Nancy Mairs explains the legacy of binary thought that stresses our separation from rather than our relationship the Other, which so many have inherited:

The fundamental structure of patriarchy is thus binary: me/not me, active/ passive, culture/nature, normal/ deviant, good/bad, masculine/feminine, public/ private, political/personal, form/content, subjective/objective, friend/enemy, true/false. . . . It is a structure, both spatial and temporal, predicated upon separation, not relation. (41)

The feminist sublime, offers a different way to negotiate otherness and opposition than simply striving for domination over them.