On the first day of class we tried to define the word feminist while we shared our own personal experience with feminism. As I read, “The Laugh of the Medusa” by Helene Cixous I was brought back to that day and questioned if all women are feminists but because of scrutiny are to afraid to associate themselves with the word. Cixous states that women face an “inevitable struggle against conventional man” and it is because of this censorship that women have felt a “shameful sickness”.
Throughout history women have been censored and oppressed, but have the opportunity through writing to “aim to break up, to destroy, and to foresee the unforeseeable, to project” (215) their own chains of oppression. Cixous elaborates on the idea of the “woman writer” who will “proclaim this unique empire” that has been “driven away…violently” with emphasis on the truth of the body. By intertwining the body with writing Cixous expresses the female writing through voice. She intertwines writing with the body claiming that “writing is for you…your body is yours, take it”. If writing is the body then if you “censor the body and you censor breath and speech at the same time”.(217) Cixous urges women to end this censorship by writing. Interestingly she develops her argument by writing and directly speaking to women. In this way Cixous is bringing strength to her own voice and connecting that voice and strength to her body.
Now the question is, why writing? Why does Cixous put so much emphasis on writing? History has taught us the importance of writing. In the past history, music, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, and fairy tales were all told orally, causing loss of information and changing of tales; for example the tale of Medusa. Writing changed all that. Now there is a written account of every event, every story and every joke. Through writing women can make their own history or remake oppressionary tales like the Medusa to reflect their own truth. They can voice their own opinions and experiences like men have for centuries because women can write about women like men can write about men. Neither sex knows what it is to be the other sex. Without women writers; women are left vulnerable, weak and at the mercy of male writers, continuing in ” a world of searching, the elaboration of a knowledge, on the basis of a systematic experimentation with the bodily functions, a passionate and precise interrogation of her erotogeneity”. (215)
Cixous shows that writing is a powerful tool in the fight for equality among the sexes since it allows women to be uncensored.