"When we speak (as feminist writers and theorists often do) of the need for a special language for women, what then do we mean? Not, surely, a refusal of language itself; nor a return to a specifically feminine linguistic domain which in fact marks the place of women's oppression and confinement. Rather, a process that is played out within language across boundaries. The dream of a language freed from the Freudian notion of castration, by which female difference is defined as lack rather than Otherness, is at first sight essentially theoretical, millennial and Utopian. Its usefulness lies in allying feminism and the avant-garde in a common political challenge to the very discourse which makes them possible; the terms of language itself, as well as the terms of psychoanalysis and of literary criticism, are called in question--subverted from within. Woman and artist, the feminine and the avant-garde, are elided in the privileged zone of contemporary intellectual and aesthetic concern: writing . . . . Difference is redefined, not as male versus female--not as biologically constituted--but as a multiplicity, joyousness and heterogeneity which is that of textuality itself. Writing, the production of meaning, becomes the site both of challenge and Otherness; rather than (as in more traditional approaches) simply yielding the themes and representation of female oppression . . . . Though necessarily working within 'male' discourse, women's writing (in this scheme) would work ceaselessly to deconstruct it: to write what cannot be written."

[ from Mary Jacobus, "The Difference of View," in Jacobus, ed., Women Writing and Writing About Women, New York, Harper & Row, Barnes & Noble Import Division, 1979, pp. 12-13. ]

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