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By Philippe Sollers

Kate, journaliste politique française ; Cyd, Anglaise vivant à long island ; plant life, anarchiste espagnole ; Bernadette, dirigeante féministe ; Ysia, Chinoise attachée d'ambassade ; Louise, une claveciniste ; Deborah, los angeles femme du narrateur... Telles sont les femmes. Le narrateur, un journaliste américain, nous dit tout sur elles, mais sa réflexion embrasse l'évolution du monde, ces dix dernières années : pouvoir féminin, érotisme, crise, terrorisme, idées et passions des intellectuels. Rien de plus actuel que ce vaste roman.

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Thus there are substances ranging from ‘good or more socially accepted drugs’ such as alcohol and tranquillisers at the top of the hierarchy, and ‘bad or unacceptable ones, such as cocaine and heroin at the bottom. It has been interesting in recent years to notice how cigarettes have slid down the hierarchy, given their harmful effects (Plant, Plant and Mason, 2002). This hierarchy of drugs is linked with our cultural value system and archaic notions of pollution and purity. While both men and women drug users are affected by this hierarchy, the social delineation of public and private spaces situates women’s more than men’s bodies in socially weak positions if these female bodies choose to consume what are viewed as ‘bad’ substances.

As a result of these shifts, the female body becomes disjointed and exposed, given that complex gendered and oppressive processes are rife as dominant discourses are organized. While absence, ethics and becoming are the key themes which emerge from Turner, Frank and Braidotti’s work, respectively, Braidotti comes nearest to framing her ideas within a feminist perspective on the embodied subject. That the embodied subject has become fragmented or ‘broken’, as it has developed into the target of a variety of discourses and been subjected to intense scrutiny by their powerful scopic drive, is a major problem which Braidotti exposes.

However, I would still contend that we have little information on how gender as a process and an institution influences the ways in which users coordinate their space, their place, their time, their drugs management, their community resources and their relationships with significant others, whether these others be other drug users, relatives, families, treaters, and so on. Access to drugs, knowledge of drugs, use of drugs and help for misuse of drugs – all involve hidden and sometimes not so hidden gendered processes.

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