Frida and Like Water for Chocolate

Helene Cixous (a French –feminist writer) and our movie, Frida

A little bio about Cixous: Helene Cixous: Cixous was born in Oran, Algeria in 1937, which was a colony of France, and was raised in a German-Jewish household. Cixous has taught at many different universities throughout France including the University of Bordeaux (1962), the Sorbonne (1965-67), and Nanterre (1967). In the 1970’s Cixous became involved in exploring the relationship between sexuality (phallocentrism) and writing (logocentrism). During this period she wrote her most influential works, “Sortie,” “The Laugh of the Medusa,” and “Coming to Writing.”

In here book, The Newly Born Woman, Helene Cixous discusses the masculine structure that has been imposed on women through history. In order to threaten the stability of this masculine structure, Cixous tells us that it is urgent to question the solidarity between logocentrism (writing) and phallocentrism (sexuality); for Cixous there is a connection between the philosophical, the literary, and the phallocentric. Cixous tells us that bringing to light woman’s burial (absence) and questioning the existing structure (mostly formed by men and for them) will create a transformation of the functioning of all society. Cixous also observes that: “The results of destabilizing the masculine structure are completely unpredictable. Meanwhile there is the certainty that man and woman are caught in a complex web of cultural determinations. Both sexes are trapped within a predefined ideological system that goes back to ancient history.” Cixous observations remind me of Reyes, in particular her stance on the masculine culture so predominant in Mexican society.

For our movies, Frida and Like Water for Chocolate, I want to explore the complex web of cultural determination and predefined ideological system that traps both sexes pointed out by Cixous. As we watch Frida, let’s keep in mind the following.

1. The movie is about Frida Kahlo (Diego Rivera’s wife).

2. The movie has as its background the Mexican Revolution, thus: a) Let’s see how the characters in the movie interact not only among themselves but also within their environment (cultural-social-political circumstances).

3. Let’s identify in the movie examples of Cixous’s observations: a) the complex web of cultural determinations in which both sexes are trapped b) the predefined ideological system through which both sexes interact.

What are for you examples of the complex web of cultural determinations? What’s for you an example of predefined ideological system? For me this would be the following. Let’s say I constantly tell my daughter that I want her to marry a good-looking and professional man, with lots of money. Here, I’m basically choosing for my daughter; and my choosing is being determined by my predefined ideological system: somehow I’ve been taught to believe that this image of man is what women want and need.

4. What else would you like to add about the movie?

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