This section will deal with the « sins of the father », it will therefore be a question of grasping the different modalities of the father’s excesses with regards to jouissance when he inflicts it without regard or consideration for the subject, such as the one who exercises a tyranny over the other, imposes his libidinal life on a woman, a partner, a child. Toxic fathers are labeled as abusers, predators, imposters and stalkers. Violent fathers, feminicide and masculinism are on the rise, according to the latest annual report on the state of sexism in France. If the shock wave five years ago with #Metoo has liberated women’s speech against sexist and sexual violence, this report notes an increase in violence and concludes that if public opinion recognizes and deplores sexism, it does not reject it in practice, this being particularly true for those under thirty years of age.
Père-version and the symptom
The father is no longer the constant of the family. There is a multitude of possible families: mononuclear, extended or recomposed, families in which fathers, stepfathers and partners occupy a changing place. What is a father, being a father ? No universalizing answer is appropriate, because it leads to the religious illusion that he is God. The symbolic function of the father, which, through the dimension of transmission, ensures a principle of regulation and distribution of the phallus between those who are it and those who have it, between boy and girl, is no longer dominant. In the Seminar « Identification », Lacan indicated that if one does not know the desire of the Other and that it causes anxiety, one can always know its instrument, the phallus. « Qui que je sois, homme ou femme, je suis prié d’en passer par là et de ne pas faire d’histoire, ce qui s’appelle en langage courant : « continuer les principes de papa ». Et comme chacun sait que depuis quelque temps « papa » n’a plus de principe, c’est avec cela que commencent tous les malheurs ». When the father, having lost his central place as a regulator and sometimes reduced to a spermatozoon, no longer exercises any symbolic function to ensure and found the family, another way opens up.
Thus, as Jacques-Alain Miller points out in his course « L’Un-tout-seul », for Lacan, « L’essentiel de la fonction du père, c’est d’être un symptôme ». J.-A. Miller gives two other clarifications concerning the function of the father. The first one is the exceptional character that rests on the particularity of his symptom, the second one concerns the father’s marked desire to be bound to a woman as the only one. It is in this way that Lacan speaks about paternal perversion, it is always a version of the father who writes his père-version. By not being God, he can neither say everything nor cover up all the real, so he preserves the possibility of desire. In these cases, the father’s desire, as the desire of the Other, allows for confrontation with his castration, his lack, it is a desire that engenders neurotic consequences and symptoms for the child. What happens for the father when, castration is inconceivable, or when there is a denial of castration ? What happens when the father’s jouissance replaces his desire ? What happens when the father’s sin imposes itself as the will to jouissance, especially when it is exercised towards the partner and the child ?
In these cases, in this version of the father, in this père-version, the father presents himself as someone who knows how to jouir. He imagines himself Other in order to ensure his jouissance. He can then boast of a knowledge of desire, even that he is the subject supposed to know in person. Adapted to reality, integrated into discourse, he is able to move through the twists of the law, sometimes as a rationalist or a pedagogue, sometimes master or even masculinist, even imposter. When the axis of jouissance unfolds on the exhibitionist’s side, he averts his gaze from the appearance of the upset, shaken, violated modesty of the other, so that the jouissance of « being seen » occurs. The voyeur questions what we cannot see, the phallus ; and it is the gaze of humiliation that is embodied in the scene where he is « being seen ». In both cases, it is a question of being seen, and in both cases, the child is imprisoned in the cage of the gaze, the jouissance of the father.
Freud distinguished the tender current from the sensual current, and to put it with these syntagms, neurosis presents itself as the renunciation of sensuality, of libido, of jouissance on the altar of tenderness, of love. For some subjects, it is a renunciation of jouissance in the name of desire is confused with the demand of the Other who dominates. Thus, some subjects form a couple with the pervert. The love of the Other binds them in a perverse jouissance, a solid knot of jouissance is then produced.
The father can also be a legislator, embodying the superego of the obscene and ferocious imperative. This father constitutes himself as a place of jouissance, a kind of distributer of jouissance. He may very be clothed in the garb of the radical religious, assigning to women and children a way of life and satisfaction that is constrained, reduced with limited control of their bodies. Their speech is then reduced to silence : their thought, their education and knowledge are forbidden. Some masculinists display their knowledge of women’s jouissance, of what they want, affirming that there is no jouissance other than phallic.
In Seminar The Psychoses, Lacan gave two traits that characterise what he calls, at the time of his elaboration in 1953, the psychopath, who today takes the figure of the abusive or toxic father. These two traits are the unilateral and monstrous. Their effects are to engender an « annihilation of the signifier ». The clinical consequences can be tragic for those subjects who experience it.
On the victim, target, prey or trophy side, the subject experiences jouissance and its grip. It will then be a question of knowing how, in neurosis, the repressed reappears in the symbolic, how, in psychosis, the foreclosure reappears in the real and in perversion, how disavowal manifests itself in the imaginary ; but it is always a question of a « one by one » clinic.
At a time when secrecy seems to be permeated by the tyranny of transparency and of saying everything, when free speech buzzes, rolls, and rumbles in the networks, when silence excuses itself from the world where noise reigns supreme, when shame seems to be erased, when authority fades and is rejected, when the signifiers « father » and « mother » merge into that of parenthood, when the image body, the object body, and the enjoying body predominate, what is becoming of the place of the enjoying father ? What formal envelopes of new symptoms are emerging for fathers, for subjects ? Let us recall this : « that perversion merely means version vers le père, a version towards the father – and that all in all, the father is a symptom, or a sinthome, as you wish ».
The texts in this section will deal with the sins of the father in literature, cinema, plays, etc. They will shed light on the enigmatic knotting of the imaginary, the symbolic and the real, and on the way in which the symptom, always singular, alights and hooks itself as a fourth element.
Translation : Claire Hawkes
Proofreading : Marina Caiaffa
 https://www.haut-conseil-egalite.gouv.fr/stereotypes-et-roles-sociaux/travaux-du-hce/article/rapport-2023-sur-l-etat-du-sexisme-en-france-le-sexisme-perdure-et-ses Available on the Internet.
 Lacan J., The Séminaire, book IX, « Identification », leçon from 4 April 1962, inédit.
 Miller J.-A., « L’orientation lacanienne. L’Un-tout-seul », enseignement prononcé dans le cadre du département de psychanalyse de l’université Paris 8, cours du 6 avril 2011, inédit.
 Lacan, J., Seminar III, book III, The Psychoses, ed. Miller J.-A, trans. R.Grigg (New York:Norton,1993),p. 204
 Ibid.,p. 205.
 Lacan, J., Seminar, book XXIII, The Sinthome, ed. Miller J.-A, trans. A.Price (Cambridge:Polity, 2016),p. 11.