Aunty Needle Heel
Presented at Clinical Study Days, New York, March 2016
We will call this analysand by the name of Aunty – and this is not her real name. We’ll get into more about her multiple names as the story goes on.
Aunty came to me through a colleague. Very soon she tells me her boyfriend is undergoing analysis with this colleague… She wants to share the lacanian psychoanalytic experience with the boyfriend.
Tall, thin, pretty… she is 27 years old. The boyfriend works in a bookshop. They live together… they share the rent… One big problem is they have a roommate that consumes drugs – heavy drugs. So he’s eternally stoned — Aunty can’t take it anymore but cannot make up her mind with putting an end to the lease, because the boyfriend doesn’t make enough money to pay his part of the rent.
Then she tells me of her sister and nephews. Aunty doesn’t have babies, the sister does. Aunty loves babies. She enjoys her nephews so much, the only problem she has with them is that they are not her own. Therefore, Aunty.
Back to the money for the rent … She makes enough money, more than enough she tells me. The matter is how.
She works in a dungeon—a bordello that specializes in sado-masochism. The work she does is sex work, but she wants to make it very clear that it is different from prostitution.
Because there are the certain rules…
—Men are not allowed to penetrate you…it is forbidden. Say they try something, all I need to do is yell and the madam will be there in no time, to stop them, throw them out.—
And there are the different games arising from the client’s sexual fantasms.
Before saying more about them she acts out a scene mumbling, moaning and whimpering
—I want to die…
But soon she forgets about dying and full of enthusiasm, she proceeds
—I prefer to play the domineering one
At least in that outfit they don’t tie her up…
Aunty wears leather clothing, high thin stiletto shoes, a whip, and she excels at verbal abuse…
—She asks me, do you know where the needle heel goes, I mean what it is you do with it?
—You’ll tell me next time.
Aunty Lady takes pleasure in attempting to engage me over her acute information—things that you supposedly know, yet, you don’t know… why would you know of such a thing…?
But the problem is not whether I know it or not. Aunty Lady’s jouissance comes along with the verbal transmission of the different practices. Her jouissance is now in words, not in things, not in the bodily sexual activity itself, but in her verbal report to the boyfriend.
Last session cut, back up front, she’s again talking about her doings with her shoe
—Do you know where the needle heel goes, I mean what it is you do with it?
Slightly she raises her voice
—It’s not where you think it goes.
We’ll talk more about it next time
Men come in by the hour. They masturbate: scream “Mommy, mom,” while Aunty performs sadistic acts; they bring their own tutus to wear, their petticoats, now they pee in the bathtub… “Aunty I’ve been bad, I need to be raped with a dildo…”
And do you have a fetish…?
—My heel of course, and the practice you don’t care to hear about…
She’s leaving rather angry… I’ve yet to hear her story of the heel. Now she says —I don’t mind.
What is desired? Desire goes off to hook on wherever it can. The fetish causes desire. With Lacan it’s not the little item of footwear, nor any other little thing. She doesn’t need to be wearing the little shoe, it just has to be there, somewhere.
Aunty Needle Heel
Her ambivalence brought up the question of the detachment from herself, of the detachment from her body. Her shoe is the tool. And her words…
Like the exhibitionist Aunty Lady wants to make Woman exist; she wants to make the Dungeon Woman exist. Women—one by one—do not exist for the exhibitionist.
This and other pervert traits make for my early diagnosis. Aunty Needle Heel wantsto force in the Other the gaze…
She finally gets away with the description of the man organ tortured by the heel—and this is how she wants to make sure the erection is on this side, my side—which corresponds with the side of the female gaze. For the exhibitionist the true erection is on this side.
—So I have power over the beasts—she says
I count two for the game. Her and I—
From the place of the tamed beast,
Now she tells me again and again that the boyfriend likes her doing the work.
At home he asks—she tells.
She tells him, and tells him, what she dubs erotic stories, otherwise the erection, his erection may fail to appear…
Does Aunty play the domineering at home?
—Not with my boyfriend, with him it’s all about telling—
She’ll tell until she sees the erection
—dominance comes with the story I tell, since I am the one to know it. He is on the side of submission whether he likes it or not, he likes to listen, about me, about my practice, he loves details … And there is the problem that we need the money, and I am making a lot. He looks so happy when I walk into the room and lay the money on the table.
Too happy for Aunty Lady’s liking,
In the same way as the voyeur, the boyfriend brings in the gaze to obstruct the hole in the Other—he brings in the gaze to make the Other whole; the voyeur needs to make the Other exist to be an instrument of his jouissance.
Sublimation presupposes a non-existent object.
Lacan’s Woman as exception, in the guise of the Lady of courtly love-is a masculine fantasy, the masculine fantasy par excellence. As the exception that accounts for the phallic function we have the dark figure of the primordial father-jouisseur who was not encumbered by any prohibition and was as such able to fully enjoy all women.
Does the figure of the Lady of courtly love not fully fit these determinations of the primordial father? Is she not also a capricious Master who wants it all, meaning, she, herself is not bound by any Law…? Woman is one of the names-of-the-father.
She tells me about a dream in which she was making her art, and this is how I get to know Aunty Lady is an artist—that draws, that paints… Again, if only she could sell her work—get hold of some money by means other than the dungeon.
—Can we conceive of the dungeon being artwork? I asked.
Extreme words spoken by the Other—the Other being me—Aunty Lady lies in silence, till she says—I wish.
She recognizes her desire in the Other, in the Other’s words about the dungeon art, and this is a change.
Another facet of Aunty Lady’s work involves wealthy clients that ask her to travel to places, meet them at hotels This one she is telling me about wants her to travel to Washington, DC. She is excited with the proposition because of the extra money.
Aunty Lady is back from Washington. A mishap at the door of the hotel had turned her frantic with worry
—the doorman opened my bags, went through my leather clothes, my very high heel boots, my whip, my extreme underwear… What if he took me for a whore! Now screaming
—I am not a whore, you know…
—What are you?
—I am not…
I cut the session
We are dealing with the being, here. The actual lack-in-being which we bring to analysis… For the case of a fetishized one, becoming active with being the object it no longer knows what it is doing. Meaning is lost. The dimension where she is to be found lies in his taste for shoes…for shiny noses.
Again, in Washington had taken place the bondage issue that upsets her.
—I don’t like being tied-up, I am afraid of being so dependent, so fragile…what if the man becomes abusive? In Washington, DC there was no one outside the door to call for help—
Non-existent as Woman happens to be, Aunty Lady lies in tears, says that she wants to be rescued. Rescued from what?
—From the Dungeon, of course, from my life—she says.
I ask if she pleasures herself some way, in any way…
Aunty Lady goes on to tell how sometimes she would find the certain effect in her undergarments…only now and then.
A response of the real?
Her body as an Other to herself, it has a life of its own…
Because Aunty Lady is “very monogamous…” she’s particularly careful not to hurt the relationship with her boyfriend.
—I am not a whore — she insists
Again the lack of self representation, what, who is she?
The detachment from her body is plurality. We counted a third one:
* Aunty Lady the loving one
* Aunty Lady that lies on the analyst’s couch
*Aunty Needle Heel that works at the Dungeon
—Aunty Needle Heel doesn’t count, she says.
*My supervisor tells me to find out about the father.
She tells me of the family romance: at the age of 12 she was living with the mother, the husband of the mother and the sister, who was at this point 14. The cops came to the house, got the two girls into the police car, and took them to the station. She gets to know the mother’s boyfriend was forcing the sister into having sex. The police learned about it because the sister had told her teacher.
Aunty Lady comments on the weakness ofher own father, and now this one, a stepfather who gets her riding in a police car. And she speaks about the upset sister spilling her guts while they were stuck in traffic…
Now in school everybody knows what happened at home.
She begins questioning the ownership of her own body. I recognize the detachment mentioned when speaking of the misfortunes of the underwear…
Woman as Other…I quote JA Miller:She is central to perversion, not only the Other to the man, she is Other as such. And because she is Otherness … what is normal is always only non-male.”
—I want my boyfriend to ask me to stop working in a dungeon; I want to build a family—live together, have kids.
Like Psyche and Amor, she will hold the light over her boyfriend—he wants a dungeon girlfriend. The drop of oil that fell from the lamp burned Love—it flew away.
To conclude…the pervert makes himself be objet petit a… also de analyst. We want to distinguish the analyst as objet petit a from the pervert as objet petit a.
Would anybody like to guess what’s become of Aunty Lady’s love life?
Artworks by Christina Ramberg, 1970-73.