Cixous's The Laugh of the Medusa Critiqued Against Showalter's Essay Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness
In learning about feminist theory this semester, one idea that arose from class discussions was the notion of essentialism. Essentialism, a theory that stresses essence as opposed to existence, was discussed at length and while some classmates found it to reductionary and cliché, it is a question that I assume must be asked of ecriture feminine writing. Does ecriture feminine writing essentialize women? If it does, is essentializing women problematic?
One critique of ecriture feminine by the feminist critique and gynocricitics is that the former essentializes women. In my own understanding of feminist theory, I have related to ecriture feminine in my writing and believe that women should write from their bodies, should write as women, but there were some interesting points raised in class by classmates who do not argue with ecirture feminine's position. This paper will look at the issue surround essentialism; whether a woman writing from her body essentializes women. Ironically, although I find the writing of ecriture feminine writers to be engaging, stimulating and meaningful, I have chosen to write this paper in a linear, structured and straightforward manner. As an exegesis piece of work, I still believe that the notions of writing from female experience and acknowledging female difference are possible.
I will look at an example of Ecriture Feminine writing, that of French feminist Helene Cixous's "The Laugh of the Medusa". This work will then be c...
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... is clearly a gynocritic, I argue that she can be seen to support the movement to an ecriture feminine way of looking at women's writing and language. My reasoning behind this argument is that I believe the reason why Showalter objects to ecriture feminine writing is because she believes that ecriture feminine essentializes women and that sees essentialism to be harmful to feminist theory. Because I do not think that ecirture feminine essentializing women (in a problematic way), I argue that Showalter can reinforce the notions behind ecriture feminine.
Showalter argues that we "need to ask much more searchingly what we want to know and how we can find answers to the questions that come from our experience" (Showalter 2000: 311).
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