Distinguished psychoanalyst and author Louise Kaplan scrutinizes the world of sexual perversions and exposes the misconceptions behind them in her masterful study, Female Perversions
. Her effort earned the book a nomination for a National Book Critics Circle Award. Kaplan's general thesis is that perversions are as much a function of gender role identity as they are of sexuality. Her thesis also maintains that the predominantly male medical profession has created and perpetuated many of the myths of perverse female sexual behavior. The book outlines various types of perverse behavior--fetishism, voyeurism, exhibitionism--and then analyzes each type outside of society's traditional perspective. As she expounds on her theory, Kaplan invokes Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary
. She sees many parallels between the plight of Emma Bovary and the perception of female perversions in society today. Kaplan writes lucidly, offering an enlightening insight into the provocative and complex issue of female erotic expression to a range of readers.
Conventional petticoats make ingenious hiding places for what Louise Kaplan calls "stolen phallic trophies" - intellectual mastery and erotic strivings whose full and open display is forbidden to women even now, at the close of the 20th century. In socialized collaboration with the still-prevailing primitive gender stereotypes, women devise strategies that caricature their femininity to disguise "masculine" accomplishments and ambitions. That consignment to bondage, bondage to the myth of primary femininity is, Dr. Kaplan concludes, a perversion. The existing definition of perversion (whereby the manifest focus, whatever the scenario, revolves around the erect penis and its sexual performance), derives from the psychology of males. Applying a new lens - feminist, Freudian and literary - Dr. Kaplan has created a new template for developing ideas regarding the nature of female perversion.