Rewriting the Phallocentric in Hélène Cixous “The Laugh of the Medusa”

Essay by yatinhatUniversity, Master'sA, November 2014

download word file, 4 pages 0.0

3 | Halfmann

Rewriting the Phallocentric

in Hélène Cixous "The Laugh of the Medusa"

"By writing her self, woman will return to the body which has been more than confiscated from her, which has been turned into the uncanny stranger on display - the ailing or dead figure, which so often turns out to be the nasty companion, the cause and location of inhibitions. Censor the body and you censor breath and speech at the same time. Write your self. Your body must be heard. Only then will the immense resources of the unconscious spring forth." Hélène Cixous

"You only have to look at the Medusa straight on to see her. And she's not deadly. She's beautiful and she's laughing." Hélène Cixous


The obvious conclusion one is left with after reading Helene Cixous's "The Laugh of the Medusa," is that women need a 'language of their own' known in French as 'écriture féminine' versus a language based on conventionally structured male phallus patriarchy and its accompanying hegemonic power.

The overwhelming impression Cixous leaves is that the lack of options available for female writers will not help them survive in a traditionally male dominated literary world unless they change their way of thinking and embrace their Medusa image by writing themselves into the picture.


The sense of liberation in "The Laugh of the Medusa" revolves around the context of the effect that the great societal changes that took place before, during and through the 1970's when patriarchal hierarchies started to fall apart and people turned to previously unimagined literature involving women's writing. The larger theme of "The Laugh of the Medusa" concerns the question of Cixous's reality and raises the question whether the patriarchy or powerful in society should be allowed to prevent her from constructing her...