Writing on Women Writers

A site for college students to write about women writers.

Cixous: Write, let no one hold you back

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In Helene Cixous’s work, “The Laugh of the Medusa,” she writes, “Write, let no one hold you back, let nothing stop you: not man; no the imbecilic capitalist machinery, in which publishing houses are the crafty, obsequious relayers of imperatives handed down by an economy that works against us and off our backs; and not yourself” (392).

To me, this quote was meant for all women.  Women should not let anyone hold them back.  And the part that I found especially significant was for women not to hold themselves back.  Cixous grew up reading male texts, where there were few women writers to look up to (390).  Cixous is encouraging women to write because it allows them to explore female empowerment.

I can see why men would discourage women to write; why would men want women to feel empowered?  Men probably would like women to remain inferior, or at least would like them to “think” they are inferior, so they stay in power.

In the clip below, Cixous comes right out and says that a great mind is universal; it doesn’t matter if it is a man or woman.  There was even a list put out of “intellectuals” that would most likely lead the 21st century and no women were on the list.  And this was in 1992!

As the interview continues, we see that Cixous starts to discuss the strategy of silence, writing, and phallocentrism.  I really enjoy that Cixous is hesitant to use phallocentrism as a part of her strategies because she doesn’t want to ridicule men, but instead wants to give women the opportunity to rise from the silence.

This reminded me when Woolf said that she enjoyed Charlotte Bronte’s work, but thought that Jane Austen was great.  Bronte mocked men in her work, while Austen totally ignored the problem with men and their writings, and wrote what she wanted to write about; Austen wasn’t bogged down with hatred for men, which Woolf liked, and Cixous may have enjoyed also.

It is important for women to not hold back, not only because it gives other women the opportunity to have a female role model, but it allows women to stick together and show men that their should be equality between sexes.

At the end of “The Laugh of the Medusa,” Cixous concludes her essay by saying, “When I write, it’s everything that we don’t know we can be that is written out of me, without exclusions, without stipulation…In one another we will never be lacking” (405).  This teaches us (women) that when we all say what we need/want to say, we will never be absent from society.  Or, in other words, we will never be seen by men, as lacking in intellectualism.

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