In Monsieur Venus, I was surprised by how sexuality and sex are addressed, particularly in Raoule’s case. Rachilde writes of Raoule having sexual desires that she desired to express, which seemed to be a bit of a taboo for a woman during that time; virginity was highly valued, and Raoule’s aunt Mademosielle Ermengarde actually becomes concerned with her health when Raoule begins acting differently. On pages 25 to 26, Rachilde describes when Raoule underwent a “complete change” after seeing a special kind of book. A concerned Ermengarde fears that Raoule could have a “serious illness” and calls in doctors to examine her niece, “[who] closed her door to them. However, one of them, very elegant in his person, witty and young, was clever enough to get himself admitted by the capricious patient. She begged him to return, and moreover there was no improvement in her condition” (26). What stands out to me in this paragraph is how Rachilde writes about Raoule’s sexual desires and engagement. Sex is not outright addressed but merely alluded to—many times, Raoule’s desires are described in their intensity, but not explicitly stated. I think it’s interesting that there is a deliberate avoidance of discussing sex. I kept thinking of Cixous’s “The Laugh of Medusa” article that we read last week, in which she urged women to write “for women”, to articulate their desires, speak for their bodies, etc. Rachilde is very much so writing “for women”: though more shy in the manner in which she addresses sex, she is still addressing it as something that a woman wants and is actively initiating. Her use of third person perspective allows for somewhat of a distance as she writes about Raoule’s desires; nevertheless, her thoughts and passions are still expressed to the reader.
This kind of discussion of sexuality is unexpected for this time period, especially in regards to Raoule. As a woman, she takes on a very different role sexually than what we have seen thus far: she is the initiator, aggressive and instigating this kind of sexual relationship. But I guess I still feel as though Rachilde is not comfortable in frankly addressing sex and sexuality—it feels as though, while she is writing bout a new/different kind of woman that desires to have sex and actively pursues it, Rachilde still tries to use subtler or not extremely evocative language in order to make her writing not too racy or “inappropriate”.