“I learned a strange and beautiful thing. Birds have hollow bones – their bones are not solid like mammals’ bones, like human bones, but are filled with air pockets, a bit like bubble-wrap only less regular. (This is why when you pick up a dead bird it feels so insubstantial in your hand, unlike, say a mouse). This is a deft evolutionary development – archaeopteryx, the earliest winged dinosaur, had feathers but solid bones – to make flying easier for them. At menopause women’s bones thin out and fill with air pockets – in acute osteoporosis, under a microscope they are almost indistinguishable from birds’ bones: at menopause women can learn to fly as free as a bird.”
“Flying is woman’s gesture–flying in language and making it fly . We have all learned the art of flying and its numerous techniques; for centuries we’ve been able to possess anything only by flying; we’ve lived in flight, stealing away, finding, when desired, narrow passageways, hidden crossovers. It’s no accident that voler has a double meaning, that it plays on each of them and thus throws off the agents of sense. It’s no accident: women take after birds and robbers just as robbers take after women and birds. They (illes) go by, fly the coop, take pleasure in jumbling the order of space, in disordering it, in changing around the furniture, dislocating things and values, breaking them up, emptying structures, and turning property upside down.”
Maitland, S 2009, p. 20 A Book of Silence. London: Granta Books.
The verb voler – to fly also to steal. Both meanings are played with here
Illes fusion of masculine pronoun ils, which refers back to birds and robbers, with the feminine pronoun elles, which refers to women
Cixous, H 1976, p. 887 The laugh of the Medusa. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society , 1 (4), 875-893.