Maria Brock, Sara Persson

Female desire in phallocentric industries: A duo-ethnographic interrogation

  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Strategy and Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting

The persistence of workplace inequality requires female subjects to examine their place in exploitative systems of production and consumption, and to identify means for emancipation beyond masculine dominant orders. In this paper we examine our past experiences as young women in the finance and oil industries, the phallocentric and extractive engines of global capitalism. We do this by employing a duo-ethnographic approach and a feminist reading of Jacques Lacan’s ideas on sexual difference, aiming to contribute to the literature on female identification in phallocentric organizations. Our analysis reveals how we oscillated between accepting subordinate feminine subject positions linked to emotional work and striving to access ‘universal’ masculine subject positions linked to success and achievement. At the same time, we both engaged with imaginaries of uniqueness and critique, control and success in order to keep functioning in our roles. Both our stories feature moments of rupture experienced as affective embodied responses, when our organizations placed ourselves or others at risk. We analyse these as moments when cracks were exposed in our fantasmatic survival strategies, leading to our eventual exit from these industries. We conclude that while a feminist Lacanian framework provides a useful lens for understanding processes of female identification in phallocentric organizations, the quest for female desire and subjectivity outside the masculine dominant order requires other (feminist) frameworks.

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