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Monique Wittig (1935–2003)

Forfatter af Les Guérillères

15+ Works 1,286 Members 9 Reviews 6 Favorited

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Omfatter også følgende navne: Monique Wittig, Monique Vittig

Værker af Monique Wittig

Les Guérillères (1969) 470 eksemplarer
The Straight Mind (1992) 295 eksemplarer
The Lesbian Body (1973) 272 eksemplarer
The opoponax (1964) 100 eksemplarer
Across the Acheron (1985) 36 eksemplarer
El viaje sin fin 1 eksemplar
The Girl 1 eksemplar

Associated Works

The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader (1993) — Bidragyder — 410 eksemplarer
The Essential Feminist Reader (2007) — Bidragyder — 320 eksemplarer
The Penguin Book of Lesbian Short Stories (1993) — Bidragyder — 297 eksemplarer
Erotica: Women's Writing from Sappho to Margaret Atwood (1990) — Bidragyder — 168 eksemplarer
The Poetics of Gender (1986) — Bidragyder — 50 eksemplarer
What Is Gender Nihilism? A Reader — Bidragyder — 9 eksemplarer

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Kanonisk navn
Wittig, Monique
Dannemarie, Haut-Rhin, France
Tucson, Arizona, USA
Dannemarie, Haut-Rhin, France (birth)
Paris, France
Tucson, Arizona, USA
Rouergue, France
Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, EHESS, Paris, France (Ph.D)
short story writer
essayist (vis alle 7)
Mouvement de libération des femmes
Women's Liberation Movement
Gouines rouges
Féministes Révolutionnaires
Radical lesbianism
Kort biografi
Monique Wittig was born in Dannemarie in Alsace, France. In 1950, she moved to Paris to study at the Sorbonne. She earned her Ph.D. from the prestigious École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS, School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences). In 1964, she published her first novel, L'Opoponax, which won her immediate attention in France and international recognition after it was translated into other languages. Her second novel, Les Guérillères, probably her most influential work, today is considered a founding event of French feminism. She became a leader of the French women's liberation movement. In 1971, she was a founding member of the Gouines rouges (Red Dykes), the first openly lesbian group in Paris. She was also involved in the Féministes Révolutionnaires (Revolutionary Feminists). She published various other works, including Le Corps lesbien (The Lesbian Body, 1973) and a feminist dictionary, Brouillon pour un dictionnaire des amantes (Lesbian Peoples: Material for a Dictionary, 1976), co-authored with her partner, Sande Zeig.

In 1976, Wittig and Zeig moved to the USA, where Wittig focused on works that explored the inter-connectedness of lesbianism, feminism, and literary form. She was a visiting professor in various universities across the country, including the University of California, Berkeley, Vassar College, and the University of Arizona. A collection of writings, The Straight Mind and Other Essays (1992), was published in English.



On the surface this book seems like it’s about the war between the sexes, but the actual war itself only starts in the last 50 pages and everything up till that point is just world-building and slice of life in the strange, surreal future Wittig has constructed. Some may find it boring, but I actually found the little day to day details very pretty. I’ve been reading a lot of epic poetry, and this seems like something like The Iliad except from the future instead of from ancient Greece. The world building is so good that it seems like a contemporary document send back from the future- as demonstrated by her neologisms like “feminaires” and “glénures” (some sort of many-legged horse??). The story never goes into detail about any one character, but namedrops them (always with first and last name) in a way that makes me think we’re supposed to know who they are, just another thing that reminds me of Greek poetry. The detached third person narration kind of reminded me of text-based video games like A Dark Room, and it got kind of impersonal at times, but that also helps it sound like an oral history. Every time a page was filled up with womens’ names, I would read them to myself and it felt ritualistic, like a way to honor the fighters in this future war.

This book being so female-centric parallels how male-centric the Greeks were too. Because of that, this book is just another example of how radical feminism isn’t as radical as the media makes it out to be, because even though the story is about the war between the sexes its conclusion is compassion, basically. The line “we have been fighting as much for you as for ourselves” not only sums up the book but the 2nd wave movement in general! I think this book is very important because it contains a message of understanding and solidarity, without discounting the womens’ very real reasons to fight. Andrea Dworkin once said she wants to be remembered "In a museum, when male supremacy is dead. I'd like my work to be an anthropological artefact from an extinct, primitive society." This book seems like something from that society.

It took me about a month to read Les Guérillères, and it was so worth it. It took longer to read than it otherwise might’ve because I read it in the original French, cross referencing with a translation whenever I didn’t understand (which was pretty often!!). It’s a really dense book, but like half the words I didn’t understand turned out to be made up when I looked them up! But if you’re able to, I would definitely recommend reading it in french! I mean, there’s a reason the English edition’s title isn’t translated, it’s an untranslatable word! Wittig honestly seems kinda Oulipo-adjacent in how she plays with language. French has gendered third-person-plural pronouns, and the “gender neutral” is “ils”, same as the masculine. Therefore, in french the word “elles” (feminine plural) has a lot of power that the translation just doesn’t have. At times it’s translated to “the women” or the neutral “they”, which misses the point that Wittig herself expounds upon: “They say, the language you speak is made up of words that are killing you. They say, the language you speak is made up of signs that rightly speaking designate what men have appropriated.”
… (mere)
jooniper | 2 andre anmeldelser | Sep 10, 2021 |
I appreciate her analytical approach in wanting to be more materially grounded. Appreciate that she dealt with the problematics of the gender essentialism of French feminists at the time and calls for a eradication of the gender binary, locating the struggle and dialectic framework of power as something that cannot be retained. For these reasons I do think she is worth reading if you are interested in that domain of feminist theory. I especially enjoy the essays "The Straight Mind" and "One is Not Born a Woman."

I would enjoy her work a whole lot more if she could stop from the easy comparisons of gendered oppression with slavery. I don't think any serious feminist of colour can read this book without sighing at those moments.

In any case, here's a quote from ' The Straight Mind':

"There is nothing abstract about the power that sciences and theories have to act materially and actually upon our bodies and our minds, even if the discourse that produces it is abstract. It is one of the forms of domination, its very expression … All of the oppressed know this power and have had to deal with it. It is the one which says: you do not have the right speech because your discourse is not scientific and not theoretical, you are on the wrong level of analysis, you are confusing discourse and reality, your discourse is naive, you misunderstand this or that science.

If the discourse of modern theoretical systems and social science exert a power upon us, it is because it works with concepts which closely touch us. In spite of the historic advent of the lesbian, feminist, and gay liberation movements, whose proceedings have already upset the philosophical and political categories of the discourses of the social sciences, their categories (thus brutally put into question) are nevertheless utilised without examination by contemporary science. They function like primitive concepts in a conglomerate of all kinds of disciplines, theories, and current ideas that I will call the straight mind… The straight mind develops a totalising interpretation of history, social reality, culture, language and all the subjective phenomena at the same time. I can only underline the oppressive character that the straight mind is clothed in its tendency to immediately universalize its production of concepts into general laws which claim to hold true for all societies, all epochs, all individuals."
… (mere)
verkur | 1 anden anmeldelse | Jan 8, 2021 |
I enjoyed some of the essays at the beginning — although I don't think "lesbians are not women" or "destroy acknowledgment of biological sex" are practical strategies in the actual world, Wittig offers a powerful critique of the "political regime" of heterosexuality and women's marked sex role — but her writing is often much too abstract for me, and especially when she delves into literary theory and Greek philosophy, it has a tendency to go entirely over my head (see the second half of the book, especially the last essay on locution and interlocution).


"By not questioning the heterosexual political regime, contemporary feminism proposes rearranging rather than eliminating this system. Likewise, the contemporary development of the notion of 'gender,' it seems to me, masks, or camouflages, the relationships of oppression. Often 'gender,' even as it attempts to describe the social relations between men and women, lets us ignore, or diminish, the notion of 'classes of sex,' thereby divesting these relationships of their political dimension." —Louise Turcotte, "Foreword," p. xi

"Materialist lesbianism, this is what I would call the political and philosophical approach of the first half of this collection of essays. I describe heterosexuality not as an institution but as a political regime which rests on the submission and the appropriation of women. In desperate straits, exactly as it was for serfs and slaves, women may 'choose' to be runaways and try to escape their class or group (as lesbians do), and/or renegotiate daily, and term by term, the social contract. There is no escape (for there is no territory, no other side of the Mississippi, no Palestine, no Liberia for women). The only thing to do is to stand on one's own feet as an escapee, a fugitive slave, a lesbian." —Monique Wittig, "Preface" (1991), p. xiii

"And, indeed, as long as there is no women's struggle, there is no conflict between men and women. It is the fate of women to perform three-quarters of the work of society (in the public as well as in the private domain) plus the bodily work of reproduction according to a preestablished rate. Being murdered, mutilated, physically and mentally tortured and abused, being raped, being battered, and being forced to marry is the fate of women. And fate supposedly cannot be changed. Women do not know that they are totally dominated by men, and when they acknowledge the fact, they can 'hardly believe it.' And often, as a last recourse before the bare and crude reality, they refuse to 'believe' that men dominate them with full knowledge (for oppression is far more hideous for the oppressed than for the oppressors). Men, on the other hand, know perfectly well that they are dominating women ('We are the masters of women,' said André Breton) and are trained to do it. They do not need to express it all the time, for one can scarcely talk of domination over what one owns." —"The Category of Sex" (1976/1982), pp. 3–4

"The category of sex is the product of a heterosexual society in which men appropriate for themselves the reproduction and production of women and also their physical persons by means of a contract called the marriage contract. Compare this contract with the contract that binds a worker to his employer. The contract binding the woman to the man is in principle a contract for life, which only law can break (divorce). It assigns the woman certain obligations, including unpaid work. The work (housework, raising children) and the obligations (surrender of her reproduction in the name of her husband, cohabitation by day and night, forced coitus, assignment of residence implied by the legal concept of 'surrender of the conjugal domicile') mean in their terms a surrender by the woman of her physical person to her husband. That the woman depends directly on her husband is implicit in the police's policy of not intervening when a husband beats his wife. The police intervene with the specific charge of assault and battery when one citizen beats another citizen. But a woman who has signed a marriage contract has thereby ceased to be an ordinary citizen (protected by law). The police openly express their aversion to getting involved in domestic affairs (as opposed to civil affairs), where the authority of the state does not have to intervene directly since it is relayed through that of the husband. One has to go to shelters for battered women to see how far this authority can be exercised." —"The Category of Sex" (1976/1982), pp. 6–7

"The category of sex is the product of heterosexual society that turns half of the population into sexual beings, for sex is a category which women cannot be outside of. Wherever they are, whatever they do (including working in the public sector), they are seen (and made) sexually available to men, and they, breasts, buttocks, costume, must be visible. They must wear their yellow star, their constant smile, day and night. One might consider that every woman, married or not, has a period of forced sexual service, a sexual service which we may compare to the military one, and which can vary between a day, a year, or twenty-five years or more. Some lesbians and nuns escape, but they are very few, although the number is growing. Although women are very visible as sexual beings, as social beings they are totally invisible, and as such must appear as little as possible, and always with some kind of excuse if they do so. One only has to read interview with outstanding women to hear them apologizing. And the newspapers still today report that 'two students and a woman,' 'two lawyers and a woman,' 'three travelers and a woman' were seen doing this or that. For the category of sex is the category that sticks to women, for only they cannot be convinced of outside of it. Only they are sex, the sex, and sex they have been made in their minds, bodies, acts, gestures; even their murders and beatings are sexual. Indeed, the category of sex tightly holds women." —"The Category of Sex" (1976/1982), pp. 7–8
… (mere)
csoki637 | 1 anden anmeldelse | Nov 27, 2016 |
Whatever this was, it wasn't what I was expecting.
Brainannex | 2 andre anmeldelser | Jan 31, 2016 |



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