When the Goods Get Together Summary by Irigaray

French Feminism

  1. French feminism began during the French revolution of 1789. It was the first phase in which the women demanded equal rights including gender equality, the right to divorce for women, education for women and right to vote.
  2. The second wave of feminism was from 1940 to 1990. The woman in this phase got Right to Vote. There was an end of the parental authority of men over his family. The woman got access to abortion and birth control.
  3. The third wave feminism spans from 2000 onwards and it continues the legacy of 2nd wave adding in the elements of postcolonial critique.

Sigmund Freud

Freud, a psychoanalyst put forward phallocentric theory according to which phallus of man holds the highest position. The woman sexually is not defined by having the va g i n a but by the lack of a phallus. In this regard, she suffers p e n i s envy.

Man is the one who gives and woman is the one who takes. In other words, it is the p e n i s of man that goes into the v a g i n a of women. So man is the giver and woman is the taker and hence the former is superior and the latter is inferior.

Next Freud talks about homosexuality. According to him only males and females attract each other. Homosexuality does not exist among men. However, it exists among women very rarely.

A woman having male characteristics in her body and personality will be attracted to other females having more feminine characters. And their relation will be active-passive.

The third point Freud discusses is that a woman can raise her status by desiring, talking and acting like men. She should have varility complex i.e. Lust.

Irigaray’s Ideas

Irigaray’s work ‘When the Goods Get Together‘ is a direct attack on Freud idea about women. To make it easy I have divided the topic into three parts.

Women as Commodities

Irigaray begins her essay by saying that woman is a commodity among the men. Like other material things, they are exchanged by the men, among the man, and to the men. They are thus enslaved within the domain of men. The males, on the other hand, are outside this particular domain.

To explain why it is so, she borrowed from the concept of deconstruction of Derrida-language is not logocentric. It is cultural production. As culture is patriarchal hence language is also patriarchal.

There are no tools in language that express the voice of women. If it is the agency for women it will be passive. This is why it seems to Freud that man is superior to the woman.


Irigaray rejects Freud concept of homosexuality. According to her, homosexuality (sexual relations among the persons having same-sex) and homosociality (relation among persons with same-sex without having sex) exist in society. However, homosociality is promoted respected and accepted whereas homosexuality is rejected.

She provides another example to show the existence of homosexuality in society. According to her the trade of women happens among the men. In a way the whole society is homosexual.

However, it is kept in pretence though it is the basis for the general economy i.e. trading of women. Homosexuality never appears in public as it will disrupt the order and the dominance of men over women will end.

What Women Should Do

In the end, she says that women should establish homogenous relations among themselves. In this way, phallus will lose its power and hence they will achieve the desired status. They will never be able to bring change by adding women voice to the current male-centric world.