Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on August 27, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 560

Hélène Cixous begins her essay by writing:

Illustration of PDF document

Download The Laugh of the Medusa Study Guide

Subscribe Now
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, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies—for the same reasons, by the same law, with the same fatal goal. Woman must put herself into the text—as into the world and into history—by her own movement.

In the very beginning of her essay, Cixous sets out her purpose for writing it. Her overall point is that writing has been dominated by men and that men have used writing to dominate women's minds and bodies. To combat this, to reclaim themselves, their minds, and their bodies, Cixous believes that women themselves must write.

She explains that men fear women and try to control them because of this fear. She writes:

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. They have made for women an antinarcissism! A narcissism which loves itself only to be loved for what women haven't got! They have constructed the infamous logic of antilove.

Women who fear other women or who fear themselves are easy to control. If women turn against each other, men don't have to work as hard to control them. Cixous believes that men constantly need to be reassured of their own masculinity and power, and dominating women is one of the surest ways to do this.

Cixous recognizes that there is no one way to tell women to write, because

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, homogeneous, classifiable into codes—any more than you can talk about one unconscious resembling another. Women's imaginary is inexhaustible, like music, painting, writing: their stream of phantasms is incredible.

Much of Cixous's essay is geared at convincing the reader that up...

(The entire section contains 560 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this The Laugh of the Medusa study guide. You'll get access to all of the The Laugh of the Medusa content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Themes
  • Characters
  • Analysis
  • Quotes
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial


Explore Study Guides