1. The question of sexual difference: the name of Dasein and the name of Woman


I will start from the question posed by Tina Chanter in a paper published in 1997: “Has Derrida’s work on the question of sexual difference ever been read?” (Chanter, 1997: 87). The question of sexual difference, in Derrida, is in effect, as I’ll try to show, a question of readability.  Readability is deeply linked with the question of ‘name’ and with the way in which the name is linked both to what is named and to other names. In this sense, the question of the readability of sexual difference is, according to Derrida, a reconfiguration of the idea of text.

The question of sexual difference, intended as a textual operation of attribution of names, is no longer more a pure problem of gender, or a sociological question about the consideration of woman in modern society. The question of sexual difference becomes, in Derrida’s thought, a theoretical problem because it deeply interferes with the possibility of Truth.

In his essay Geschlecht: Sexual Difference, Ontological Difference, Derrida works on the question of difference as sexual difference, starting from a name. At the beginning of this essay he writes: “It is by the name of Dasein that I would here introduce the question of sexual difference” (Derrida 1983: 68).