Thursday, 9 December 2010
Helene Cixous and white ink
I've found the theory readings have started a lot of creative work. The whole idea of the language we speak having been so shaped by men we women struggle to exactly explain our experience was really illustrated for me when I recalled an occasion on which I was surrounded by naked women. This hardly ever happens, not to me, anyway! I was one of those kids who looked away at school and dressed under a towel. But suddenly I was surrounded by arms and legs and breasts and...whats? I didn't have a word for you know and down there, not that I would choose to use in a creative writing piece. Of course I'm familiar with the vulgar and/or childish words, but these aren't the words I would choose. And many of them are very derogatory to women. So I looked up a fascinating article called: "Snatch," "Hole," or "Honey-pot"? Semantic Categories and the Problem of Nonspecificity in Female Genital Slang by Virginia Braun and Celia Kitzinger in 2001. They looked at words that both genders use for genitals looking especially at the difference between male and female nomenclature. Women do not label their genitals. Nor do many of the words used by either gender relate specifically to anatomical features in a commonly agreed way. 'Pussy' means one thing to one person and another to someone else. I read somewhere else that gynaecologists don't name names either, and if they do the words may sound stilted and impersonal. So, I'm trying to write a poem about my becoming aware of the whole world of feminism and the most emotionally striking feature is all these...you know, down theres. In class, we discussed the problem and I've been left thinking, here is the actual heart of the problem. As Cixous says, we need to write in white ink, rediscover/co-create a language specific to the female experience to describe and explore female issues. This theory stuff is amazing. It's really made me think. I've even had to look (reluctantly) back at Derrida, at least, books about Derrida, who says something along the lines of words don't really mean what you think they mean. Words come with baggage.