The example of women’s politics in A Thousand Plateaus

One of the most difficult aspects of reading Deleuze and Guattari is the fleetingness of helpful examples. Let me clarify. There are many quite illustrative literary examples and there are many historical examples that help to give a sense of their differentiations of the various political modes they explore. However, for this reader none of these help much when thinking about where and how Deleuze and Guattari may or may not position themselves politically, or how we might use their tools of analysis in the various political movements and landscapes of today. Having said that, I just came across a helpful one on women’s politics.

We do not mean to say that a creation of [microfemininity] is the prerogative of man, but on the contrary that the woman as a molar entity has to become-woman in order that the man also becomes- or can become-woman. It is, of course, indispensable for women to conduct a molar politics, with a view to winning back their own organism, their own history, their own subjectivity: ‘we as women…’ makes its appearance as a subject of enunciation. But it is dangerous to confine oneself to such a subject, which does not function without drying up a spring or stopping a flow. The song of life is often intoned by the driest of women, moved by ressentiement, the will to power and cold mothering…. It is thus necessary to conceive of a molecular women’s politics that slips into molar confrontations, and passes under or through them. – Deleuze and Guattari, 276 (emphasis theirs; ellipses theirs and mine respectively)

I have found it helpful to read Deleuze and Guattari as primarily speaking to alternative movements and politics. Critiquing the mainstream, my reading goes, is to them less interesting and important than speaking to the varieties of alternate ways of living and being, trying to explore ways that these alternatives might offer good forms of resistance, rather than merely erecting new forms of Signifying Politics (Oedipus) within and without. I think that this quote goes some way to backing up this reading, and also helps us to see concretely what they think resistance should and should not look like. Of course, whether they are at all correct in this regard is another matter entirely.

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