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Cixous's take on feminism

sarahcollins's picture

I find Cixous’s article to be the richest one that we’ve had to date, maybe because of its “free” style that other people have commented on, which allows it to make bold assertions about the future of feminine writing, academic and personal, and also because it seemed full of commentary on what we’ve read so far. 

I also think her essay is the most radical, because she intriguingly proposes that there is a definite style of feminine writing (achronological, multifaceted, emotional, embracing rather than hating, and anonymous) –– and there must be a global overhaul in the world as it is now.  (And not anonymous in the sense of lacking identity, but because the author can be both herself and Other without being afraid of losing herself, unlike men (888).) I guess that’s not far from the conclusion Woolf reached in A Room of One’s Own, which was that woman would have to flesh out and humanize herself in literature. The extent to which Cixous explores the implications of this view, however, exceeds what Woolf laid out. She believes after woman’s half of the world has been painted by woman, it will defy theorizing and codifying (883) (and grammar? (887)) and challenge Freudian theory (884). 

At first I thought Cixous was in direct opposition to Kauffman. This is because I assumed that writing as a woman meant giving personal testimony. But Cixous seems to believe all women naturally have a common style of thinking and writing, unless they’ve been corrupted at childhood and become "dupe or domestic" (892). I also think it's really interesting how she states very plainly, “I write this as a woman, toward women”, specifying that by “woman”, she means a universal, general woman, the “I-woman, escapee” (881), sort of by-steps personal testimony.

Some random other thoughts: How deep does the schism of sex go? Does she believe women and men are incapable of sharing any common history, as human beings and not divided into groups? And what does she have against reason and grammar? A real, feminine woman can't be logical or impersonal naturally? And I liked her idea of woman as mother to another woman inside of her.