A Room of One's Own

Femininity Versus Androgyny: The Ideological Debate Between Cixous and Woolf's A Room of One's Own

There is much debate in feminist circles over the "best" way to liberate women through writing. Some argue that a female writer should, in an effort to recapture her stolen identity, attack her oppressive influences and embrace her femininity, simultaneously fostering dimorphic literary, linguistic, and social arenas. Others contend that the feminization of writing pigeonholes women into an artistic slave morality, a mindset that expends creative energy on battle and not production, and inefficiently overturns stereotypes and foments positive social change; rather, one should lose gender self-consciousness and write androgynously.

Hélène Cixous and Virginia Woolf, in "The Laugh of the Medusa" and "A Room of One's Own," respectively, epitomize these opposing ideologies, highlighting different historical sources for women's literary persecution, theorizing divergent plans for women's progress, and stylistically mirroring their ideas. Ultimately, the primary difference is in each philosophy's time frame and belief over how much influence writing has to "empower," to borrow a current feminist buzzword. For Cixous, women's writing goes hand in hand with women's...

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