Helen Cixious's The Laugh Of The Medusa

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate September 2001

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Helene Cixious' The Laugh of the Medusa explores the relationship between gender and writing. Her article presents two aims: to break up and destroy, and to foresee the unforeseeable and project. Cixious wants to destroy the historical writing structure that has been led by males to repress women and keep them in the dark. "As soon as they (women) begin to speak, at the same time as they're taught their name, they can be taught that their territory is black"(pg.575). Cixious' use of the terms dark and black signify that women have been left out, cut off from the "normal" forms of language and communication. Women have been kept in the dark as if they were a secret to the rest of society. Their femininity and sexuality have been ignored and undefined in "men's" language. By far the worst of all, women have been taught to be their own enemies.

This is what Cixious wants to destroy and break up. Her second aim is to foresee the unforeseeable and to project. Cixious wants to reinvent the structure of language, and to bring gender and writing together. She devises a new system dividing masculine and feminine forms of language, particularly through writing. Cixious discusses the act of feminine writing and what it represents for women. Secondly, she ties in the laugh of the Medusa and describes its relation to strength in femininity. Finally, Cixious returns to mythical origin to revaluate femininity.

Throughout her article Helene Cixious provides an analysis of the structure of writing. In doing so she devises a binary opposition between masculine and feminine writing. Her first objective is to prove that, currently, writing is sexual and not neutral. She achieves this by connecting the history of writing to the phallocentric tradition. Cixious writes, "Nearly the entire history of...

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