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The sex or the head? Feminine voices and academic women through the work of Hélène Cixous

Abstract
Hélène Cixous is perhaps best known for her paper, ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’ (1976) and her literary contributions outside academia. In this paper, we pick up a lesser known Cixous text, ‘Le Sexe ou la tête?’ that offers an interesting and provocative perspective on the traps associated with being feminine in a masculine environment. As we converse with Cixous, weaving our own words and experiences with hers, we link her work more closely with the feminine in modern-day academia. We suggest that Cixous’s remarks on decapitation and voice offer a way forward for academic women to be; to speak; to recognise the double jeopardy of decapitation in the university; and to use laughter as a strategic, powerful, political act of resistance and subversion against oppressive masculine power structures. We draw on and seek to enact Cixous’s notion of écriture feminine—a disruptive style of writing that provides a mode of being, speaking, and writing that subverts the power of masculine norms in order to be heard and to bring possibilities for change.
Type
Journal Article
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Date
2023-06-09
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© 2023. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.