Who is Helene Cixous?

Who is Helene Cixous?

June 25, 2021 Off By Felso

He is a French philosopher.

He was born on January 5, 1937 in the city of Oran, Algeria. She is one of the important names of postmodern feminism and poststructuralist thought. Like Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva, she is considered a representative of French feminist theories. He is also influential in the fields of psychoanalysis, literature and philosophy, like others, and his work is influenced by poststructuralist thinkers and especially Jacques Derrida. Under the influence of philosophers such as Freud, Lacan and Derrida, Cixous carried out studies that brought together psychoanalysis, literature and philosophy.

Two main orientations of Cixous are striking: first, his rejection of dualist forms of thought based on contradiction and hierarchy, and second, his unequivocal emphasis on the feminine genre, which he considers to be rich and polyphonic. So much so that, beyond drawing parallels between feminine libido and feminine literature, Cixous believes that in patriarchy, only what he calls feminine literature can be fought.

He has the same approach as Irigaray and Kristeva in challenging the hierarchy of binary oppositions; for him, binary structures such as nature/culture, mind/heart, form/matter, speech/writing are basically hierarchies that structure western thought and determine its political arrangements. Cixous relates them in the context of the opposition between men and women. The problem in this operation is always to prioritize one of the opposites. However, the other term is suppressed and depending on this conflict the terms are interlocked. Cixous considers such distinctions as dialectical structures and analyzes the structure of the system through these structures.

In the process of establishing subjectivity, there are pressures from these dialectical structures. Cixous tries to show this based on Hegel’s master-slave dialectic. Here, the subject needs another person whom he sees as separate from himself. However, this is a necessary process for the subject to become a subject, that is, to know and recognize himself, and in this process, someone else is perceived as a threat. Thus, the other is treated as an element to be suppressed and is suppressed. Cixous reevaluates this in the context of the male-female issue; He says that woman is considered as Other in patriarchal societies. Sexual difference is tolerated only in a social structure in which otherness is suppressed.

With such an orientation, Cixous turns to the analysis of how women are positioned in the social and cultural structure, aims to overcome the dualities in this structure, and aims to investigate the destructive dynamics of feminine writing against this structure. Its main strategy is to decipher the established discourses in the patriarchal social and cultural structure and to reveal the natural acceptance of what is said. In this direction, Cixous, like other contemporary feminist theorists, draws heavily on the analysis of mythological stories. He finds the founding stories of the patriarchal society in these stories and evaluates them with a psychoanalytic reading. For example, Elektra is considered one of the leaders of phallocentrism, according to her. Cixous does not adopt the sexual difference approaches of Freud and Lacan, claiming that they condemn women to the idea of ​​the superiority of the phallus. On the other hand, it speaks of the possibility of bisexuality.

Also please see:

– A non-feminist feminism
– Thought is fed by contradictions

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook