chapter  17
16 Pages

The Voice of the Serpent: French Feminism and Philosophy of Language

Raising similar questions, feminists such as Luce Irigaray and Hélène Cixous, listening for the forbidden whisper/hiss of the serpent, propose to break into the rigid symbolic order that supports male dominance and make a place for women. Also mythic, however, is the ordained punishment for such transgres­ sions. The serpent is cast out, cursed to go upon its belly and eat dust all the days of its life. Can the serpent’s speaking ever challenge the power of Yahweh? Or is the authority of logic necessary for speaking to have force? Are desire and power irrevocably opposed, so that Yahweh s viceroys, whether priests or professors, sci­ entists or statemen, must always be in control of bodies and pleasures? Must the voice of the serpent always become, as it does in Genesis, the rejected obscenity trod under foot?