Interpellating Hyphenated Medusas: Pearl Cleage's Chain and Rhodessa Jones' Big Butt Girls, Hard Headed Women
Keywords:Althusser, Interpellate, Freud, Angel, Mad.
Here they are, returning, arriving over and again, because the unconscious is impregnable. They have wandered around in circles, confined to the narrow room in which they've been given a deadly brainwashing. You can incarcerate them, slow them down, get away with the old Apartheid routine, but for a time only. As so as they begin to speak, at the same time as they're taught their name, they can be caught that their territory is black.
Hélène Cixous, "The Laugh of the Medusa"
1975, p. 877
Monomaniac phallic acculturation aligns femininity with whatever attributes repudiated by the masculine world. A male is deemed to be the locus of power and restraint within the family, as well as, its representative in the outer world. In contradiction, a female is commonly associated with passivity, masochism and narcissism. This phallogocentric notion is originated in a misogynic patriarchal ideology that gives rise to the leitmotif of female otherness. The perception of gender boundaries is necessary for males who promote their logic of dualism through incarcerating females into only two fixed metaphors: Angel or Mad. Pearl Cleage1 and Rhodessa Jones2 in their plays Chain (1991) and Big Butt Girls, Hard-Headed Women (1990), respectively, press against the externally and internally imposed boundaries confining the African American feminine expression. Theirs is a concurrent issue which gives a collective redefinition of sisterhood; they do not only seek helping black females, but also any female to transcend the downgrading destructive oculocentric, patriarchal ideologies deadening females’ spirit and capability of choice. Coinciding with Louis Althusser’s quest of the way ideology functions in society, the article attempts to explore the metaphorised representation of females through an Angel/Mad binary as well as to examine the prejudiced Freudian psychosexual interpretation of females created by patriarchal Ideological State Apparatus in the context of the Althusserian concept of interpellation.
Althusser, Louis (1969). “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatus.” Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. (trans.) Ben Brewster. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971. 127-188.
--- (1969). “Lenin before Hegel.” Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. (trans.) Ben Brewster. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971. 107-126.
--- (1969). “Preface to Capital Volume One.” Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. (trans.) Ben Brewster. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971. 71-101.
Anonym (2020). “Rhodessa Jones: African and African American storytelling.” Alliance for California Traditional Arts (Jan.). actaonline.org 6 March 2020 <https://actaonline.org/profile/rhodessa-jones/>
Baym, Nina (1984). "The Mad Woman and her Languages: why i don't do feminist theory." Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Citicism. (eds.) Robyn R. Warhol and Diane Price Herndl. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1991. 154-67.
Brownmiller, Susan (1975). Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Carby, Hazel V. (1995). Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Chodorow, Nancy (1978). The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender. Berkeley: University of California Press.
--- (1976). "Gender, Relation and Difference in Psychoanalytic Perspective." The Future of Difference. (eds.) Hester Einstein and Alice Jardine. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1986. 4-19.
Cixous, Hélène (1976)."The Laugh of the Medusa." Signs vol 1, 4. p. 875-93.
Cooper, Anna Julia (1991). "The Intellectual Progress of the Colored Women of the United States since the Emancipation Proclamation." World's Congress, 699-781.
Dal Maso, Juan and Warren Montag (2018). “Reassessing the Legacy of Louis Althusser on His 100-Year Anniversary: An Interview with Warren Montag.” Left Voice (Oct. 16th). leftvoice.org 5 Feb. 2020 <https://www.leftvoice.org/Reassessing-the-Legacy-of-Louis-Althusser-on-His-100-Year-Anniversary-An-Interview-with-Warren>.
Devine, Maureen (1992). Women and Nature: Literary Reconceptualizations. Metuchen, N. J.: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.
Dowling, Colette (1981). The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence. New York: Simon & Schuster Pocket Books.
Ealm, Jr., Harry J. (1996). "Colored Contradictions in the Postmodern Moment: An Introduction." Colored Contradictions: An Anthology of Contemporary African-American Plays. (eds.) Harry J. Elam, Jr. and Robert Alexander. New York: Plume Book. 1-19.
Freud, Sigmund (1933). New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis. New York: W. W. Norton.
--- (1933). "Femininity." Psychoanalysis and Feminism. (ed.) Juliet Mitchell. New York: Pantheon, 1974. 60-98.
Fuchs, Christian (2019). ‘Revisiting the Althusser/E. P. Thompson-Controversy: Towards a Marxist theory of communication.’ Communication and the Public (Mar. 18th). https://doi.org/10.1177/2057047319829586. <https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2057047319829586>.
Gerrold, David (1988). When H.A.R.L.L.E was One. New York: Bantam.
Gilbert, Sandra M. and Susan Gubar (1988). No Man's Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century. 3 Vols: I, The War of Words. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Haskell, Molly (1987). From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Horkheimer, Max and Theodor Adorno (1979). The Culture Industry: Dialectic of Enlightenment. London: Verso.
Horney, Karen (1967). Feminine Psychology. New York: W. W. Norton.
Janiak, Lily (2018). “Rhodessa Jones is ‘telling the truth and practicing revolution’ at Brava.” San Francisco Chronicle (Aug. 21st). sfchronicle.com 6 March 2020 <https://www.sfchronicle.com/performance/article/Rhodessa-Jones-is-telling-the-truth-and-13172135.php>.
Lapslay, R. and M. Westlake (1988). Film Theory: An Introduction. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Martin, Michel (2014). “Pearl Cleage Opens Up.” NPR (May 1st). npr.org 1 May 2014 <https://www.npr.org/2014/05/01/308619983/playwright-pearl-cleage-opens-up>.
Mims, Morgan (2016). “Pearl Cleage: Making Life in the Theatre.” Howlround: Theatre Commons (Jun. 4th). howlround.com 6 March 2020. <https://howlround.com/pearl-cleage>.
Mohanty, Chandra Tolpade (1984). "Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses." Post-Colonial Studies Reader. (eds.) Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin. London: Rutledge, 1999. 259-63.
Moi, Toril (1985). Sexual/Textual Politics. London: Methuen.
Petersen, Kirsten Holst (1984). "First Things First: Problems of a Feminist Approach to African Literature." Post-Colonial Studies Reader. (eds.) Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin. London: Rutledge, 1999. 251-54.
Robins, Roth (2000). Literary Feminisms. New York: St. Marlin's Press.
Rosaldo, Mitchell Z. (1980). "The Use and Abuse of Anthropology: Reflections on Feminism and Cross-Cultural Understanding." Signs 5.3, 389-417.
Sawyer, Keith (2002). “A Discourse on Discourse: An Archaeological History of an Intellectual Concept.” Cultural Studies 16 (3), 433-56.
Schiffman, Jean (2019). ‘Activist Performer: Rhodessa Jones.’ American Theatre: A Publication of Theatre Communications Group (Nov. 19). americantheatre.org March 5, 2020. <https://www.americantheatre.org/2019/11/19/activist-performer-rhodessa-jones/>.
Showalter, Elaine (1981). "The Female Tradition." Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism. (eds.) Robyn R. Warhol and Diane Price Herndl. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1991. 269-88.
Thompson, Clara (1964). On Women. New York: New American Literary.
Vaknin, Sam (2005). Malignant Self-Love: Relationships with Abusive Narcissists. Scopje, Republic of Macedonia: Lidija Range Lovska.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2020 Dr. Naeema Abdelgawad
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.