Throughout history, women have been excluded from almost any writing that can permit them the contribution in the making of background and culture. Being regarded as creatures of reduced list in mental capacities and intellect, women have been, over hundreds of years, kept in the dark with a patriarchal system that has efficiently muted their needs for expression, whether it be physical, oral or written. In her fundamental essay The Laugh of the Medusa, HlЁne Cixous, People from france philosopher and feminist critic, openly presents this idea of woman's need for writing as a biological drive which intimately relies on her ceasing again and mastering her own body that has been violently miused by male's rhetoric, as Toril Moi asserts that 'always and everywhere you go, the rational, lively, masculine intellect operates on the passive, objectified, feminized body' (189). It's only from the physical experience that women, corresponding to Cixous, can provide birth for an criture fminine » which will subvert the phallocentric discourse of masculine writing, along with the logocentric representational system through which it functions. The goal of this paper is to look at the key insights that the writer explores in her essay, mainly the female writing with the idea of sexual differences. It really is, also, necessary to consider, in the following levels, how Cixous employs Freud's and Lacan's psychoanalysis and Derrida's deconstructist theory to disrupt the phallocentric assumptions, hence to break up with all varieties of repression against women. A particular concentrate will be on the critic's contribution to French feminism and Anglo-American feminist theory.
Le Rire de la Mduse was written by Cixous in 1975, and translated into British as The Laugh of the Medusa in 1976 by Keith Cohen and Paula Cohen. This influential article, essentially adressing women in order to bring them to writing » (Cixous 875), is portrayed in a beautiful and poetic dialect to convey the idea of the lifestyle of an criture fminine, which is already used by the author.
As with a lot of her writings, Cixous's The Chuckle of the Medusa revises erotic differences between women and men from past to present, anticipating another radical change in the notion of this idea which would only take form if woman needs back a body that is hers, from the masculine repressing terms, in order to hire it as a cause and aftereffect of a new genre of writing which Cixous presents as the womanly writing. The whole premise of the article is that Woman must write her home: must reveal women and bring women to writing. » (Cixous 875). Inside the light of the idea, the critic goes on to associate women's writing to their bodily experiences that signify a source of desire and need for creativity. In other words, for a woman to have the ability to split up with the old traditional doormat in her skin, she must trace her own body with a feminine language. As a result, women will create their own traditions of writing, embarking from the past and its repressive dialect.
Over hundreds of years, masculine discourse has been the prominent and the better one. Women acquired no word to say in a patriarchal world where, as Cixous states, they were thought to be dark » and dangerous » (878). Women have, consequently, developed a sense of resentment for other women and themselves under the influence of the masculine ideology. To break up with this complicated, Cixous calls woman to manifest through a writing that belongs to her ; but which can neither be defined nor theorized (883) since, as possible deduced, terms is male's property, and there is no room to theorize a feminine writing within the masculine prominent discourse. However, the female method of writing serves as a revolutionary up against the phallocentric vocabulary and thought (888). Cixous's point is to approach this genre of writing in relation to sexual differences and gender in order to show how these differences have served historico-cultural purposes to impede women's intellectual capacities. She moves further to go over the traditional idea of bisexuality - as neutrality- that engenders the fear of lacking, contrasted with a bisexuality, which allows one to identify one do it yourself as having sexual orientation toward the two sexes. Out of this equation, Cixous concludes that woman is bisexual » by the type of her organs and the turning shifts of happenings; whereas man can't be so without shedding his phallocentric masculine personality (884). In the same way, she feels that writing is bisexual, for ladies should write to people without no exclusion.
Throughout the article, Cixous sensibilizes women to the urgent need of an universal revolution resistant to the phallocentric discourse to which they have been the signified subject. By creating their a discourse of their own, women will travel through and, at the same time, steal back whatever is already theirs, their voices that have been repressed. The writer points out to the actual fact that subjugation has led to creating a lady voice awareness which, aware of the difficulties that women have been subject to, reclaims their socio-cultural personal information and their natural privileges. She also argues for women's freedom to own children or never to have any, without having to be threatened » or blamed for the options they make in life (890).
The main reason for this review is to investigate the key insights that Cixous discusses within the Have a good laugh of the Medusa, combined with the major influences that influence her writing, namely the Derridian deconstruction and psychoanalytical theory. As its subject indicates, the article includes the Medusa » as a metaphor to portray woman's beauty, oppression and intellect at the same time. Employing this Greek mythical physique, Cixous visits two wild birds with one rock : she firstly alludes to women being cared for badly by their men counterparts, as Medusa was once ill-treated and raped. On the other hand, the writer also tips to women's jealousy of and hatred to other women under the influence of the masculine worldview. Cixous continues on to develop this notion when she argues that men have committed the greatest criminal offense against women. Insidiously,
violently, they have led them to hate women, to be their own enemies ». In the same way, the Medusa's metaphor is associated with the modern psychoanalytic interpretations of Sigmund Freud who refers to the Medusa's brain as the supreme talisman who provides the image of castration - associated in the child's brain with the finding of maternal sexuality - and its denial » (Freud). Cixous takes on the thought of castration, by which the phallocentric brain is haunted, and relates it to the Medusa's image to be able to show that man is unconsciously vulnerable at the eyesight of the feminine sex, to the point that he is consumed, as Freud and his fans note, by the fear of being a woman » (884). At this level, the critic implicitly alludes to the French psychoanalytist Jacques Lacan, who employs Freud in his concept of Wunsch to arrive at a desire » that is associated with a absence. Regarding to Lacan's theory of Lack, as explained by Joel Dor in his Advantages to the Reading of Lacan, woman's desire to the masculine body will not originate from your body itself as the object of desire ; rather, it hails from her lacking a male organ ( Dor 236). Ironically, Cixous refutes this phallocratic » analysis arguing that her personal desire of the other is designed for the other, which a desire originating from a lack » is much poor and lacking(891). She will go further to criticize women who madly fetishize the masculine sex, treating them of the woman of yesterday » who's either kept at night ages, idolizing the original way the big penis needs her ; or falsely modernized with naive virtuous thinking as Cixous affirms here :
They remain, easy and numerous victims of the oldest of farces: either they're cast in the initial silent version in which, as titanesses lying under the mountains they make with their quivering, they never see erected that theoretic monument to the fantastic phallus looming, in the old manner, over their body. Or, coming today out of the infans period and into the second, "enlightened" version with their virtuous de-basement, they see themselves all of a sudden assaulted by the contractors of the analytic empire and, as soon as they've started to formulate the new desire, naked, nameless, so happy at making an appearance, they're taken in their bathroom by the new old men, and then, whoops! Luring them with flashy signifiers, the demon of interpretation » (892)
Following this notion, Cixous is harshly attacking the masculine phallocentric ideals in the personae of Freud and Lacan, whom she accuses of exploiting the new version of modern » female to fulfill their sexual needs while they're reducing them to a substandard and negative position.
One cannot understand Cixous's ideas without heading back to the Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalytic theories. If we look at Freud's interpretation of erotic differences which place man in an excellent position for natural reasons, it could then be clear why he has been criticized by feminists, including Cixous. Though she mainly creates her theoretical legacy on psychoanalysis, accurately Freud's, Cixous uses this latter's examination of developmental theory and gender tasks -which are based on the biological dissimilarities between man and woman- as a counter-argument to say that, though there's a erotic difference, women should be cured equally, rather than in terms of the Lacanian binary oppositions, as she declares :
writing has been run by a libidinal and cultural-hence political, typically masculine-economy; that this is a locus where the repression of women has been perpetuated, again and again, pretty much consciously, and in a manner that's terrifying since it's concealed or adorned with the mystifying charms of fiction; that locus has grossly exaggerated all the signs or symptoms of erotic opposition (rather than intimate difference), where woman has never her consider speak ». (879)
In the same way, Cixous criticizes Lacan's theory of phallocentrism which posits the phallus at the heart of the masculine being. Furthermore, the critic uses this primacy of the phallus in the Derridian deconstructist critique of logocentrism to coin the word phallogocentrism », which identifies a (superior) masculine terminology centered upon the phallus, against a (deficient) feminine vocabulary which lacks a phallus. In other words, her writing is a deconstructist one by which she undermines the phallocentric ideology that dominates words (Tidd 98).
In addition to the medusa's image which is employed by the writer to defeat Freud's castration » and Lacan's absence », is the metaphor of Dora that highly disturbs Freud's legacy in psychoanalysis and remedy. When she immediately adresses Dora as the real mistress of the Signifier » (886), Cixous evokes the storyplot of humiliated lady who was simply manipulated by her dad as a pawn in a erotic game between him and his mistress's man, and later by Freud's remedy that tried to encourage her of the necessity to play the overall game. As a result, the girl was a topic of a double oppression, applied first of all by the daddy, and secondly by Freud. The truth of Dora in the article, if it alludes to patriarchal ideology and oppression of the female's tone of voice, it does not fail to deconstruct the Freudian assumptions of male superiority and the Lacanian theory of the Name of the daddy » which prescribes the father as a symbol of legislations and order. For Cixous, the name of Dora signifies more than a good example of the psychological assault brought on by male's oppression; she alternatively employs it as an icon of female's revolution and express (Showalter 332).
The Laugh of the Medusa is the most significant example of Cixous's criture female ». Rich of artistic metaphors and impressive ideas, this important article is inscribed as a fundamental masterpiece of design within literary and critical theory. Influenced by the deconstructist and differentialist thought, Cixous's writing has been effective in undermining the patriarchal dominance over words. By revising the question of sexual variations existing in the psychoanalytical theories of Freud and Lacan, she deconstructs the equation of the binary oppositions put on the few man-woman, while intelligently implementing the difference to confirm the equality rather than the opposition between the sexes. The idea is regarded through feminist critiques like Shiach's Their Symbolic Exists- it Supports Power » where she notes :
Cixous has displayed the process of differentiation in more sociable conditions, and has offered the possibility of more hopeful conclusions: the structure of new types of identity, which minimize across 'dual hierarchized oppositions ». ( 165)
Her poetic dialect and womanly style is a demonstration of what she calling criture fminine ». Influenced by her reading of Adam Joyce and Virginia Woolf, Cixous appears to take up their experimentation and modernist setting of writing, herded with a womanly sensual tone of voice and experience, as essential features of a fresh form, which is the feminine writing. Consequently, introducing this idea, among numerous others, in to the critical theory has absolutely made of Cixous one of the very most prominent results of French feminism.
When translated into British, Cixous's The Giggle has gained international interest, mainly by Anglo-American feminists. Admittedly, the writer has been often criticized for taking into consideration the sexual differences and making them as a basis for her argument, which, for several critiques, cannot but reinforce the unequality, hence, repression. To make sense of her ideas, however, one has to contextualize them in a poststructuralist framework. Being a deconstructist par-excellence, Cixous stresses the differences to be able to deconstruct them. For the deep understanding of her writing, it is very important to be familiar with psychoanalytical concepts of Freud and his visitors, to be able to make sense of them in a Cixousian condition. Karen L. Taylor identifies Cixous's legacy, against Morag Shiach's critique, when she says :
Furthermore, through her writing, Cixous engages in a psychoanalytical exploration of the feminine. Reading and writing are, for her, the methods to grapple with the enigma of male / female relations. She's been criticized for her psychoanalytical style, inspired by Jacques Lacan, and proclaimed by way of a superabundance of images. Nonetheless, Cixous has been instrumental in establishing a fresh form of books that lies somewhere between myth and book. » ( 70)
What Cixous does is more than proclaiming equal civil privileges for women with regards to their male counterpart. What she will is deconstructing the patriarchal words that hierachizes female into second-rate positions, phoning at the meanwhile for a new mode of writing that inscribes the womanly as equal to the masculine, hence, anticipating a probability of change in sociable structures. Throughout the criture fminine », the feminine body will produce a lot more radical effects of political and cultural changes than some might like to think » ( Cixous 882).
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