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Chapter 1 Where to Start

Chapter 2 Language and Giving

Chapter 3 Reciprocity

Chapter 4 Definitions and Exchange

Chapter 5 The Concept of Man

Chapter 6 'Marksist' Categories

Chapter 7 The Collective Source

Chapter 8 Castration Envy

Chapter 9 Is = $

Chapter 10 Value 157

Chapter 11 Shifting into Exchange

Chapter 12 Giving Value to Exchange

Chapter 13 Market and Gender

Chapter 14 Deserving to Exist

Chapter 15 Pointing and Patriarchy

Chapter 16 The Point of the Ego

Chapter 17 What Does Democracy Re-Present?

Chapter 18 The Unmasculated Agents of Change

Chapter 19 Dreaming and Reality

Chapter 20 Giving and Love

Chapter 21 From the Garden to the Grail

Chapter 22 Cosmological Speculations

Chapter 23 After Words Practicing the Theory

Index of Figures

Selected Bibliography

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Chapter 8

Castration Envy

A war between the haves and the have-nots is being waged. I think its root causes are in what I have decided to call 'castration envy.' The relation of private property is a product of the mutual opposition of gender categories combined with the privileged concept sample position. The boy finds he is in the category opposite to giftgiving, because of what he has (the penis), while the mother is defined as female because she gives (nurturing) and because she does not have (a penis). A 'having' category is opposed to a 'giving' category. Giftgiving and not-having are identified with each other--and with being female. Since he is in the same category as the father (who is a privileged concept sample, a one), the boy has to take part in the role of the 'many,' things, those who give way, the weak, before this relation can be overturned and, as an adult, he can become the sample or 'one.' The boy's role is also similar to the commodity, compared again and again to a general quantitative standard of value. While 'having' puts the boy in a competitive situation, which might be considered difficult and negative, he is consoled by the fact that he belongs to the privileged gender to which more is given.

Property and Money

Money is the substitute (material) gift for the commodity, and the sample for the category of value. It takes the place of all other concept models (including the male) as sample for the value of products in exchange--in their transition out of the gift way. The owner is to property as money is to commodities, as father is to child, as father's penis is to child's, as sample is to the many that are compared to it.1 The male is one who has the 'mark,' which points him out both as potential sample man and as potential owner, in a one-many relation to his property. The penis is perhaps the sample piece of property. But it is inalienable--he cannot and will not give it up.2 The patriarchal father stands in a similar one-many relation to his family, of ownership. In a way the father's control of the family seems to be required by the consideration that, in scarcity, those who give will lack if they do not receive from others, and those who keep and do not give will not lack. (There is surely an anal-retentive aspect of all this as well.) Mothers and children under the control of the father can be made not to practice giftgiving outside the family, not to satisfy others' needs sexually or materially. Those who have will therefore presumably continue to survive in scarcity. By owning large quantities of money, the sample of value, the one who has assures more nurturing for himself and those related to him, under his one-many control in the concept-structured family.

Exchange, by requiring equivalence, brings a relative item to comparison with a standard, so into the concept process. The same process happens in many different areas of life: in the masculation of the baby boy, in measurements and tests of all kinds, grades in schools, sports records, beauty contests, role-modeling. The relation of presidents to citizens, movie and music stars to fans, first prize hogs to piglets are variations on the theme.

Similar to exchange is the Western marriage ceremony, where the woman is an item being transferred out of the family group, which is relative to her father as sample 'one,' to a new relation to her husband as sample 'one.' This pattern is changing to some extent in the US, but we are still influenced by it, and it continues in many variants in other parts of the world. Though her wedding day is supposed to be the happiest day of her life, a sample day, and the woman herself is seen then as sample of Woman, she is only playing the role of a sample thing in the process of being over-taken by its (new) substitute, the husband, who is functioning very much like a word. It is fitting then that the woman should take her husband's name.

A new self-replicating concept-family unit is formed, where the boys will continue to learn to become 'male' by renouncing the gift process (and sometimes by punishing and degrading it), and the girls will learn to give their gifts and allegiance to the male sample. Property, like marriage, is based upon the mutual exclusion of the 'ones'.3 Each owner is in a one-many relation with his/her properties and in a mutually exclusive relation with every other owner. Money steps in as the sample for the concept of value, to which products are related and by which they are replaced, much as the priest steps in between father and husband to regulate the transfer of the woman (still a giver) from one family 'concept' to another. Altering the relation of those who belong to a category, relative to a sample, so that they can be transferred to a different (mutually opposed) category and a different sample requires a definitive word pronounced by the priest or presented as an actual portion of the material word and value sample (money) by a buyer. Deeds, licenses, and contracts are enduring re-presentations of the definitive words.

Labor and Money

The sale of labor time takes place in much the same way, although labor is often given freely to family and acquaintances and gifts and services actually permeate much of life, so labor is somewhat more flexible than private property. Because of scarcity, jobs (monetized exchange labor) seem to be gifts. Many women and men do not receive this gift of being defined by money, which allows survival. Monetization, or the lack of it, is an instrument of power, because it defines one group as relevant to the concept of economic value, the other as irrelevant (they do not have the 'common quality' of exchange value). This categorization implies that those outside could become part of the privileged group if only they were good, efficient, or educated enough. Their success or failure seems to depend upon qualities which they have or have-not.4 The importance of exchange value is that it gives access to the category that has a chance to survive. However, the scarcity (not having) that is necessary for exchange to prevail as a process is artificially created so that the monetized (having) category will be privileged.

Masculated men traditionally need women who have been abandoned and left bereft of the gift of belonging to a privileged category, having a degree or title (another verbal masculation), or even having a monetized job (monetary masculation), who take care of them in order to make them better able to succeed in the fierce competition to be in the highly monetized categories. Here is the leverage point where capitalism and patriarchy are locked together with those they define as 'different.' The total system needs and uses the individual needs of those who are outside the category of the employed. For example, the job market needs the unemployed who want to become employed, in order to keep the price of labor down. Those who do monetized work need the free labor of those who do not, which passes through them and permits them to add more gift labor to their jobs. The system rewards the employed by contrasting their relative well-being with the suffering caused by the unsatisfied needs of the unemployed.5 Thus, those who 'have' are encouraged to attribute more relative value to what they do have, through fear of the abandonment and suffering experienced by the have-nots. Similarly, the mistreatment of women and girls, even (in some cultures) the abandonment of girl babies to die, makes those who have the 'mark' attribute more importance to it and to being in the masculated category because of fear that they would undergo similar mistreatment if they were female have-nots.

The Primordial Error

It is as if there were an unconscious reasoning of this sort: if a boy has been put into the non-nurturing category because of the penis, he might remedy this estrangement through castration and, therefore, wish for castration in order to be like his nurturing mother. (Freud revealed that we often fear what we desire.) But through misogyny, society shows him that girls, who are born 'castrated,' are even more grievously abandoned than he is, so he should value what he has. He might be seen as having castration envy but being healed of it as an adult through the mistreatment of the have-nots. And the more goods he gets from them, the larger his 'having' is and the less he presumably wants to be like them or envies their lack.

Perhaps the boy wants to give the penis to the mother, because she doesn't have one, and satisfy her 'need' to be in the superior category. However, he decides to keep it (treats it as an inalienable possession and, therefore, as more valuable than what he would give away). He gives up giving it and gives up the gift paradigm at the same time. Thus, he demonstrates that the gift way is alienable, or less important to him than keeping the penis (not being castrated) and remaining in the category 'male.' In ex-change, he takes on genital sexuality in the place of nurturing, much as the whole society takes on economic exchange in the place of giftgiving. As an adult, by amassing possessions and money (which can be both kept and given), he has a chance to engage again in selective nurturing towards others.6 In fact, if he arrives at a state of wealth, he can give abundantly if he wishes and finally appear even more nurturing than the mother, who was only useful to him anyway in infancy. By giving to a few, he can repeat the pattern, privileging them over others who lack, repeating his own entrance into the privileged category, making them 'haves' as opposed to their 'lacking' (economically female) counterparts.

Another defect of the mother's giving-way or standing aside as the boy's model is that the child is not validated as precious by seeming inalienable. She may also seem to have given up her penis, even given it to the boy. The father, however, does not have this defect, because he kept his, and he keeps the boy in his gender category. He seems to have known how not to give away too much. If the father had only been the mother, the boy may reason, s/he would have the penis, and the boy would still be like him/her and still be able to be a nurturer. These speculative trains of thought are moot, of course, because it is not the penis that takes the boy away from the category of the mother, but the social construction of gender around the opposition of the gender terms. Socially, we name him 'male' because he has a penis. If he wants to remain nurturing, and well he should as a little homo donans, he would not have to change his body, giving up his penis, but only change the name and the concept of gender in his society (an arduous job but definitely less threatening than losing a body part). This healing of language would keep him from wanting what he also must fear, and must not achieve--his castration. The society would be able to stop over-privileging 'having' and penalizing 'not having' both as regards to male genitals and as regards money and other kinds of properties.


Rich people often fear not having, even though they may want to give to those who do not have. The same kinds of privileges that reward boys over girls are given to the rich over the poor. The same paranoia and lack of security beset the rich when they perceive the need of others as a desire to take what they have, castrate them of their goods. Wealthy women are in a contradictory position, because they only have money or property, not the male 'mark' of privilege. This may be the reason they buy expensive portable objects, like jewelry, that demonstrate they are members of the superior category. Guns and knives are marks that restore the phallic equation and sometimes do make it possible for poor people to force giftgiving from the rich through robbery. The rich often force giftgiving from the poor through the leverage of low salaries and other means of exploitation. However, they do not define it as robbery but as profit. The system of profit taking is defended by hierarchies of police or military armed with guns and knives.

The intensification of the needs of poor people demonstrates the necessity for the practice of the gift economy on a large scale. However, giving up money resonates with giving up the penis (castration), giving up the privileged category and thus the possibility of living in abundance. Abundance itself is a good thing, but it is being used to reward 'having,' not-giving and the kind of categorization, definition, and de-serving that come from masculation. By creating widespread scarcity, capitalism provides the conditions for the exchange economy to prevail and makes what is the birthright of all into the reward of the lucky few, just as masculation does with the mother's abundance. The relation between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' acts out the combination of fear and desire for castration that arises from the false categorizations of masculation. The anxiety of our boy children has cast its spell upon society as a whole, causing incredible harm. It may be hard for us to acknowledge this situation, because we unconsciously feel we should pay back for the harm that has been done. However, in that case we are needlessly reasoning according to the exchange paradigm.

There is no payment that could equal the harm that has been done, but the fact is--if we want to enter the gift paradigm, we must anyway be for-giving. We can begin by re-defining the system as something that needs to be changed, not just 'the way things are,' and we can begin by addressing that need. We can re-interpret patriarchy in the light of the gift paradigm as a bad dream and start all over again. Perhaps we should re-name the system that is based upon this childhood nightmare, calling it not patriarchy but 'puerarchy,' the rule of the boy. Or even 'puer' archy--the rule of the word 'boy.'


The mistreatment of females in general can also be seen as a reprisal against the mother for giving up the boy into the other gender. Such an exchange (or evening of the score) is perhaps not just a mercenary attack, but a renewed attempt to form a concept by creating repeated instances of the problem of inclusion/exclusion according to physical properties. This attempt has not succeeded, though the abandonment of the 'have-nots' by the 'haves' has taken place on ever larger scales. Now the 'haves' are some 250 million people, while the 'have-nots' are 5.5 billion. One reason for this is that the translation of the problem of having and lacking the penis into the economic terms of having and lacking the means of livelihood has created numberless new problems and disguised their common origin in the infantile misperception. Here, differently from the childhood nightmare (where it may be feared that mothers give away their penises to their male children), the 'have-nots' do actually give to the 'haves'--though this is concealed by an over-emphasis on the value and deserving of the 'haves,' whose 'one' positions are held in place by hierarchies and gained by competition and domination.

The misunderstanding that is creating this terrible distortion in values (and in reality itself) is very profound but so innocent and obvious as to be invisible. It is just masculation and the consequent turning away from the mothering model that is making us value death and destruction over life and well-being for all. The 'haves' should be giving to the 'have-nots,' giving to satisfy needs, not abandoning or killing them to punish them for not having--or so that the 'haves' will value their possessions, jobs, money, and phalluses more. I am trying to explain patterns that I believe underlie our problems. I do not deny that many men love their children, and that boys often retain the capacity for nurturing, but I believe these patterns cut deep channels in our culture and influence the behavior of all in needlessly negative ways.

Nurturing Exchange

The abstraction, boy = father, is made more important than the concrete creative nurturing relation in the internal ('marginal')7 priority list of the parents. The visible physical similarity is more important than the behavioral or the on-going ad hoc construction of the self, based on love. Yet, that has to happen, too, though it happens through servitude by the mother and deserving by the child. Equivalence between the child and father is self-confirming by such mirroring effects as the child reflecting the father reflecting himself in him (the father fulfilling himself as sample 'one' through being the equivalent to which the boy is relative) and through other examples of the concept relations in the wider context. Giftgiving is other-confirming. Presently, it is wrongly nurturing exchange as its 'other' and confirming equivalence, the principle of substitution. It nurtures the contradiction of itself, the substitution of giftgiving, and its replacement by the phallic equation. Giftgivers give to the process of exchange as our 'other,' and we also make the boy our 'other' by letting the father sample substitute us--creating the male image (of equivalence and substitution) for him to follow. A simple other-oriented process gives to a complex and artificial self-reflecting one.

The mother upholds and nurtures the boy's similarity to the father; she affirms the importance of their similarity, while it is both obvious and unseen that she does not require the boy's similarity to herself, because she is in fact nurturing him--who is someone different from herself (different first because he is a child, and then because he is being made male). The privileging and the father's attention seem to be conditional upon the boy's similarity to the father, and perhaps on the size of the child (big boy), and therefore also upon the size of the penis, which is not really like the father's anyway. (Their equation is therefore only counter-factual and programmatic in the beginning.)

To this can be added the need or desire to assert paternity and, therefore, also a privileging of other individual physical similarities, such as facial features, hair and skin color, height. Even behavioral traits can be identified as similar. Then, also, obedience to the father's word makes the boy act according to his father's plan, thereby showing who the child 'belongs' to. The character of 'belonging to' is important also for girls. They need to belong to the father and, therefore, should be obedient to his Law, even if they have to be like the mother, eventually. This requirement comes about because property and the concept coincide as one-many patterns. Since the father cannot be the gender model for the girl (the other one-many pattern), the property relation emerges more strongly. Girls follow the model of their mothers in belonging to the father, and in giving importance to the one-many concept relation among males.

To keep the gift and exchange paradigms in place, it is often necessary for exchangers to avoid even the appearance of giftgiving. However, a lot of giftgiving in exchange does happen, through surplus labor, gift labor, and just as the result of cheating. Even things like inflation, printing new money, and exchange rate differentials provide free gifts for some. All this is all hidden by an appearance of equal exchange. That is why we have to keep our gaze fixed on the appearance of equality, and that is one gift of equality--that it hides the gifts of giftgiving and the bridging of diversity. It does the same in the boy's change of categories. The equality with his father hides what he has lost to gain his privilege--the giftgiving he seems to have been dispossessed of, cheated out of--where the good actually comes from. Once giftgiving is given up, it is as if society decides to cut its losses in the compromise. Equal exchange seems to be the best that can be had, so we focus on its gifts which are the values of patriarchy: safety under the rule of the honored and (occasionally) benign patriarch, equality, and justice. They are accompanied by the domination and blotting out of the values of giftgiving and abundance: other orientation, kindness, tolerance, diversity, and the leap of love across the synapse.

1Money takes the place of the owner as the concept 'sample' to which commodities are related as values, until it is given up and the commodities become related as property to new owners as 'samples.' A 'one-many' property relation is taken over by a 'one-many' value concept relation, and then a new 'one-many' property relation occurs.

2See Annette Weiner's book on the cross-cultural economic logic of not-giving: Inalienable Possessions, The Paradox of Keeping-While-Giving, The University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1992.

3I believe the OBN (Old Boys' Network), like the group of property owners, incarnates the differential values of words opposed to one another in the langue. Women and children have historically been to their husband and fathers as properties are to their owners and as things are to the words which stand for them. Each of the members of the category of husbands/fathers is in a differential, mutually exclusive relation with every other while in a one-many relation with his own family. The husband/father has to keep the other 'ones' from taking his place and property owners face the same challenge. In the langue, each word is in a differential relation with all the others, while it is in a 'one-many' inclusive relation with the things which are related to it as their name. We said that when the sample is no longer necessary for forming the concept, it becomes just another thing of that kind. However, its removal might also be attributed to its being incorporated or subsumed into the word, a kind of logofication. Males (especially those in 'superior' categories) appear to become words, while females (and others in 'inferior' categories) appear to become things, 'reified.'

4 The idea of buying and selling labor time seems clear enough, but there are many differences between the ownership of our lives and the ownership of property. Our relation to our lives is really not 'one-many,' as our relation to property is, even though we can divide it into time periods, and we may or may not have many marketable qualities or abilities.

5The institution of welfare defines the excluded category as 'poor' and allows some minimal giftgiving to be done by the patriarchal state. This is a paradoxical masculation of people as 'have-nots' with consequent humiliation, allowing the subsistence of an underclass who believe their poverty is due to their personal defects ('lacks').

6Perhaps the monetary support he gives his wife is a way of making her 'have' what he could not give his mother.

For-Giving Chapter 9

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