Sunday, February 4, 2007

L'Écriture Féminine

A student from an upper division course of mine sends me this from her current research into L'Écriture féminine. "Ann Rosalind Jones (professor at Smith College) writes:
Symbolic discourse (language, in various contexts) is another means through which man objectifies the world, reduces it to his terms, speaks in place of everything and everyone else--including women." Jones explains that women historically, reduced to mere sexual objects by the dominant male voice, "....have been prevented from expressing their sexuality in itself or for themselves." Finding a female form of expression would succeed in revealing the phallocentricity Western language. As I understand it, feminine expression appears de-centralized. Women experience the world sensually with their entire bodies whereas men tend to transmit and receive from their 'antenae' located just below the belt. Male language = logical, linear, even. Female language = contradictory, ambiguous, inconclusive. Theorist Luce Irigaray contends "'She' is infinitely other in herself. That is undoubtedly the reason she is called temperamental, incomprehensible, perturbed, capricious-not to mention her language in which 'she' goes off in all directions and in which 'he' is unable to discern the coherence of any meaning."


Ryan said...

As a male I find the whole tone of this article offensive. The author appears to be more concerned with degrading men than promoting feminist literature: "men tend to transmit and receive from their 'antenae' located just below the belt"

Female literature is unique from that written by men and should be celebrated as so, instead of trying to critize the other sexes writing.

chublin said...

the 'antennae' is the "phallocentricity" of the western language. i think she's arguing that our language has this predominately male form (phallic -- linear, even) which is revealed by more de-centralized 'female form[s] of expression.'

the whole point seems a little strange to me. of course a man reduces the world (including women) to terms which he understands. what other option does he have? he can leave women out entirely or he can present them as he understands them. Granted, a woman will sometimes see herself differently, but a man does not know a woman as she knows herself and cannot speak for her in her own terms, she must do it herself. for as long as i've been alive, women have had equal opportunity to re-present the world by themselves for themselves. if our language continues to be phallocentric, it's because women are not participating in symbolic discourse, an issue which i really don't see when i go to the bookstore.