Hearing the Unhearable: The Representation of Women Who Kill Children
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Contemporary Theatre Review
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Feminist theory has discussed the silencing and underrepresentation of women's voices in such areas as politics, law, culture and psychoanalysis. Through the identification of silences and absences, and a noting of the invisibility and inaudibility of women, the patriarchal structures of society and language have been discovered, and the lack of representation of women's voices and experiences therein. Hélène Cixous locates her manifesto for female expression in the breaking of silence – in the laugh of the Medusa, the vocal but non-verbal, bodily expression from beyond culture. Like feminists who follow her, she privileges the voice of the mother, and its role, as the ‘rhythm that laughs you’, in the child's coming to language. 1 Framing her interests as a part of the movement towards the aural rather than visual in continental critical theory, Peggy Phelan recently presented a lecture that explored her own experience of the ‘living lyric of mothering’ and the role of the voice as an interpenetrative agent of communication between mother and child (speaking in 2012, she was careful to say that fathers too could provide this socialising function). 2 The voice of the Medusa and that of the mother seem to come from vastly different positions, one laughing wildly and dangerously from outside the patriarchal structures of society, the other intimately singing a child into the world, and asserting a central psychosomatic role in the development of human subjectivity.
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