When she puts a snail on her breast, swallows a bottle of aspirin tablets, wounds herself, the young girl is hurling defiance at her future lover -- 'you will never inflict on me anything more hateful than I inflict on myself.' These are proud and sullen gestures of initiation to the sexual adventure.
Fated as she is to be the passive prey of man, the girl asserts her right to liberty even to the extent of undergoing pain and disgust. When she cuts or burns herself, she is protesting against the impalement of her defloration: she protests by anulling. Masochistic, in that her conduct gives her pain, she is above all sadistic: as independent subject, she lashes, flouts, tortures this dependent flesh, this flesh condemned to the submission she detests -- without wishing, however, to dissociate herself from it. For she does not choose, in spite of everything, really to repudiate her destiny. Her sado-masochistic aberrations involve a basic insincerity: if the girl lets herself practice them, it means that she accepts, through her repudiation, the womanly future in store for her; she would not mutilate her flesh with hatred if she had not first recognized herself as flesh."