Helene Cixous

The Laugh of Medusa

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In The Laugh of Medusa, Cixous’ main point is to empower women, and move them to pick up their pens (or quills) to write about themselves. She wants women to explore their feelings, emotions and sexuality and write. Cixous stresses that women must free themselves from the chains that men have put them in and it is through writing that they will accomplish this.

 

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“I shall speak about women’s writing: about what it will do. Woman must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing,” (1454)

 

“Woman must put herself into the text - as into the world and into history – by her own movement.” (1454)

 

“The future must no longer be determined by the past. I do not deny that the effects of the past are still with us. But I refuse to strengthen them by repeating them,” (1454)

 

“I write this as a woman, toward women. When I say ‘woman,’ I’m speaking of woman in her inevitable struggle against conventional man; and of a universal woman subject who must bring women to their senses and to their meaning in history.” (1454)

 

“ - there is at this time, no general woman, no one typical woman. What they have in common I will say. But what strikes me is the infinite richness of their individual constitutions: you can’t talk about a female sexuality, uniform, homogenous, classifiable into codes - ” (1454)

 

“Write, let no one hold you back, let nothing stop you; not man; not the imbecilic capitalist machinery,” (1455)

 

“Men have committed the greatest crime against women. Insidiously, violently, they have led them to hate women, to be their own enemies, to mobilize their immense strength against themselves, to be the executants of their virile needs.” (1455)

 

“From now on, who, if we say so, can say no to us? We’ve come back from always. It is time to liberate the New Woman from the Old by coming to know her – by loving her for getting by, for getting beyond the Old without delay, by going out ahead of what the New Woman will be,” (1456)

 

“It is well known that the number of women writers…has always been ridiculously small. This is a useless and deceptive fact unless from their species of female writers we do not first deduct the immense majority whose workmanship is in no way different from male writing, and which either obscures women or reproduces the classic representation of women (as sensitive – intuitive – dreamy, etc.)” (1456)

 

“Nearly the entire history of writing is confounded with the history of reason…With some exceptions, for there have been failures – and if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be writing (I-woman, escapee) – in that enormous machine that has been operating and turning out its ‘truth’ for centuries.” (1456)

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“She must write her self, because this…will allow her to carry out the indispensable ruptures and transformations in her history, first at two levels that cannot be separated.” (1457)

 

“1. Individually. By writing her self, woman will return to the body which has been more than confiscated from her, which has been turned into the uncanny stranger on display” (1457)

 

“2. An act that will also be marked by woman’s seizing the occasion to speak, hence her shattering entry into history, which has always been based on her suppression.” (1457)

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“It is by writing, from and toward women, and by taking up the challenge of speech which has been governed by the phallus, that women will confirm women…in a place other than silence.” (1457)

 

“Almost everything is yet to be written about women femininity: about their sexuality,” (1460)

 

“Write! and your self-seeking text will know itself better than flesh and blood,” (1463)

 

“Woman be unafraid of any other place, of any same, or any other.” (1463)

 

 

Fatemah Al-Yousufi