History shows that many writings of women were centered around man. She wrote what society expected from her, not her experiences or true emotions. Writers like Jane Austen and Emily Bronte gave prior importance to the standards of society and reflected their own style of elitist patriarchal feminism in their works. Especially Austen reflected the idea that women is complete only when she is married. Many so called feminist writers exposed women’s lacks and they secured a place in women’s writing.
L’Ecriture Féminine is a French feminist theorist movement that literally translated means Feminist or feminine writing. This term was originally coined by Hélène Cixous, who wished to create a sort of language or new type of writing that allowed women to express themselves. Cixous and other practitioners of écriture féminine states that the very structures of Western language exclude women and can function only through the silencing of women and the repression of feminine sexual drives. Feminist writing is women writing about women by creating a female based language versus a male based language, which is what most people write in. Writing has been such a patriarchal field for so long and because of this, it is hard to write as a woman about woman issues in a world of men. Cixous predominantly links female oppression, specifically the denial of female sexual pleasure, with the lack of female writing. Her wish is to freely express female sexuality and to “overturn masculine discourse”, which are the features of Ecriture Féminine theory.
There are three main writers in the Ecriture Feminine world and they are Hélène Cixous, Monique Wittig and Luce Irigaray. They all have differing opinions about what Ecriture Feminine should be defined as, but they all mostly agree that, feminist or feminine writing is a writing done from a female point of view. Cixous and Irigaray both argue that if women can express their sexuality for themselves then they can create a new viewpoint. This new type of writing would focus entirely on women and have a completely new viewpoint of a woman or a woman only.
The history clearly shows that men are capable of writing the feminine and they can create woman’s writing by erasing or rejecting the boundaries of phallocentric ideas and the practiced confining which is assigned for women within the patriarchal structures. Many works produced by men are disjointed and disturbing in terms of narration and figurative language and has mirrored one man’s ideologies and experiences. They are all connected to the coded restrictions and limitations prescribed by centuries of patriarchy. By linking writing with having a penis, these authors insist that writing, or creativity in general, is a biological act, one that is rooted in the body, and specifically in the male body.
Cixous stated that women should surrender to their own bodies and to write with their bodies in order to produce real, strange, cyclical, non-linear texts of fiction and literature by introducing a concept called ecriture feminine. Ecriture feminine can never be codified. Critics opined that it is in a constant state of flux, ever-changing, ever-moving, bringing forth delights, disorganization and strangeness in ever changing ways. Cixous writes that “Nearly the entire history of writing is confounded with the history of reason […] it has been one with the phallocentric tradition” Woman has been ashamed due to repression by patriarchal ideology. Woman must “Write! Writing is for you, you are for you; your body is yours, take it”
Cixous believes women can most accurately tell their story by writing through their bodies. All through history women have been defined by and contained within their own bodies as a result of repressive male activity. Cixous suggests that women who have been defined by the male gaze has two options. The first option is that they can remain trapped inside themselves thereby perpetuating the passive role determined for them by the male. The second alternative women have, and the option Cixous supports, is that they can use their bodies as a tool. By using their bodies as a medium of communication, women are able to speak with the very thing that they have been confined within.
Cixous speaks positively and optimistically about women’s ability to reclaim their right to speak and write in a feminine style. She explains that the style must take on an unconventional form.
In her writing Cixous deviates from the accepted masculine style but she deliberately calls attention to the fact that she can not express her true thoughts as she feel them, by exposing the inadequacy of the current language. Since the immediate creation of a new language is not a feasible option, women are left with the option of only revealing the flaws that exist. Exposing these flaws is the only way women will be able to overcome the obstacles that are constructed by a patriarchal society. Sahe says “Language is the repressor of woman as it is governed by the governing masculine order”.
In The Laugh of the Medusa Cixous cries for a dismantlement of this structured alien discourse by saying woman must be together as woman and not allow the phallogocentric, male dominated world to prevent us, as woman, from being heard and recognized. Therefore she inscribes a form of writing for woman, with her own language, syntax and structure.