PRINT November 1990


Yvonne Rainer's Privilege

SINCE ITS RELEASE FIVE YEARS AGO, Yvonne Rainer’s film The Man Who Envied Women has stood as an important challenge to the white, middle-class values of most academic theoretical feminism. The film’s narrative centers on Jack Deller (Bill Raymond and Larry Loonin)—a white college professor, “feminist,” and lover of women—and his estranged wife (not seen but narrated by Trisha Brown), whose words serve as a kind of Marxian-feminist counterpoint to Deller’s more hermetic appropriations from Foucault and Lacan. Deller is indeed complicated, as becomes clear when we see him doing what he presumably does best: lecturing to his students. His rehearsal of male master texts that speak at rather than with women represents a kind of frightening primal scene of academia—the place where we are often taught to discount our bodies, our emotions, and our contradictions in the service of an all-consuming

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