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smigliori's picture

The Notion of "Othering"

I feel like the largest connective force between the Spivak and the Cixous piece is the theoretical concept of "othering". Perhaps this comes to mind because of Spivak's focus on imperialism, especially connected with the concepts of "worlding" and "Orientalism" -- two concepts which I, for reasons I am not prepared to analyze at the moment, automatically connect with feminist theory as regards the concept of "woman" as the "other" of "man". While Spivak groups together Western men and women under the umbrella of the imperialist oppressor who causes the "worlding" of non-Western societies, Cixous vehemently insists on the seperation of femininity from masculinity and, therefore, woman from man.

I think the biggest difficulty I have with the Cixous essay, and, in fact, probably the same problem I've had with every other text we've read so far, is the assumption of the categories "woman" and "man" as things which are biologically determined and pre-destined to exist throughout all ages. The notion that the there are two genders, male and female, and, for most of these theorists, that these genders are biologically determined is a presupposition which I believe we must overcome if we are to move forward to individual equality. However, I suppose perpetually railing against the gender binary is not the purpose of these weekly postings, though I'm sure this will not be the last time I do so. To return to my original point, I really like the positioning of the Spivak essay with the Cixous because it points out the problem with setting up any dichotomy. Eventually, and probably sooner rather than later, another category will be introduced which throws the entire system out of whack.


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