« Derrida and Writing | Main

The physical in Cixious and Kristeva

In reading Helene Cixous and Julia Kristeva, although I am extremely welcoming of a woman finally getting a forum and bringing the important role of women into the Rhetorical Tradition, I see a bit of a tension in their attempts to empower women (and perhaps I am simply interpreting their words in the incorrect or unconventional way). It is clear that they are calling for women’s liberation through text. They state that “writing has been run by a libidinal and cultural – hence political, typically masculine – economy? (1235). This, they argue, must change.

It seems, however, that Cixoius and Kristeva focus so much on the body that it appears to me that they are essentializing that which they wish not to be essentialized by men. I understand that they are trying to show that the body can give woman her “being? and “access to her native strength? (1236). I agree. They are in fact trying to celebrate the strength of that which has been assumed submissive. However, I feel as if this attention to the body, to the physical, comes at the expense of celebrating that beyond it – the spiritual, the intellectual, and the possible. Again, I hedge my statement in the fact that I know that there is a certain “oneness? of all of them that Cixious and Kristeva appreciate (as do I). Still, it is as if I want them to do more to counter the “phallic? domination of discourse they so adamantly oppose than with referencing something else “bodily.? For instance, they state, “Her libido will produce far more radical effects of political and social change than some might like to think? (1237). I realize they use such phrases in some respects to twist the terminology that has been used against them, but in proclaiming that discourse is an escape and a liberation I want them to go beyond the physical references and pave the way for a woman’s “becoming? outside of the walls that have been rhetorically been built around her.
-Meg