Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Reply to comment

One Student's picture

Take a look around, then cut through!

First, what I pulled from class discussion about Spivak on Monday:


Imperialism means making natives the means to imperialism’s ends, but claiming that natives are being made into ends, through imperialism.

Feminism, as it is, is part of the imperialist hegemony.

We should critique the forest of feminism, not the tree Jane Eyre; it is the forest that made Jane Eyre feminist, that is, made it part of the hegemony.

The water from Cixous’s “The Laugh of the Medusa” ("the water" is a reference to bel hooks's notion of letting the silt sink to the bottom of the glass, ignoring those parts that aren't useful, and pulling out and using what is):

I think “Laugh of the Medusa” is a call to revolution. “Break out of the circles … Take a look around, then cut through!” (pg 892) Cixous isn’t proposing any particular kind of new order, but chaotic experiment and exploration by individuals each doing as they please, indulging their desire, whether it is to write or to gestate. Her only law is that we should try to understand and love the other, instead of to subdue it and fear it.

What is the connection between Woman reclaiming her body (reclaiming it like a territory), and Woman writing? Specifically writing, not any other form of voice. On page 891, Cixous defines “the desire to write: a desire to live self from within, a desire for the swollen belly, for language, for blood”. Perhaps I find this hard to grasp because I never feel less embodied than when I’m writing – then, I’m all mind and eyes and hands, in that order, but mostly mind. But is her point that women regard their bodies and their writing in a similar way, with shame and without pride? And is her assumption that to take pride in one will be to take pride in the other?

What is Cixous’s attitude toward men? For most of the article, she seems to see them as the opposition. But near the end, “I want all. I want all of me with all of him … I want all of us … I don’t want a penis to decorate my body with. But I do desire the other for the other, whole and entire, male or female …” (pg 891)

The silt, which I’m calling silt because some of it irritates me or I disagree with it, and if I let myself get distracted by disagreeing then I’ll never understand the gist of the overall piece:

-Discussing women and men as if they were discrete, neat categories, and the only ways of being; and saying there is feminine writing and masculine writing.

I don’t think of myself as a woman, and I’m not going to say how I think of myself, here and now: out of the closet, but you don’t know what closet I stepped out of, and I’ve gone some place else where you can’t see me because there aren't any damn words for it anyway. The overall impact of these readings is to feel myself an outsider, albeit one with a stake. I don’t want to redefine the words woman and man or explore new ways of being them, or be them better than before. I want to make new words. A renaming.

-Speaking about women as Africa, as black (pg 877): I wonder what Spivak would say about a citizen of a colonizing nation saying that all women are Africa, are black.


Also, some photos of Helene, her mother, and her brother, which I found arresting. They all have the same magnificent nose.


To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
5 + 12 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.