1000 Days of Theory: td027
Date Published: 12/8/2005
www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=498
Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, Editors

1000 DAYS OF THEORY



Mêmeté and the Critique of Sexual Difference

On Monique Wittig's Deconstruction of the Symbolic Order and the Site of the Neuter


J. Edgar Bauer


"Männlich oder weiblich ist die erste Unterscheidung, die Sie machen, wenn Sie mit einem anderen menschlichen Wesen zusammentreffen, und Sie sind gewöhnt, diese Unterscheidung mit unbedenklicher Sicherheit zu machen."

-- Sigmund Freud [1]


The "unquestionable certainty" to which Sigmund Freud refers in the motto has seldom been so consistently and radically challenged as in the work of the lesbian author Monique Wittig (1935-2003).[2] A brilliant avant-garde writer and poet who was awarded at age 28 the Prix Médicis in France for her first novel, L'Opoponax, Wittig immigrated to the United States in 1976, where she began expounding her "materialist lesbianism" in essays that have attained canonical status within feminist studies and queer theory. Both in her fictional and theoretical writing, Wittig deploys critical strategies aiming at the exposure and disruption of the male-centered, binary scheme of sex and gender that she considers a most efficacious subterfuge of the "straight mind" designed to subjugate women and disempower sexual minorities. Key to her deconstruction of the male/female divide is the dismantling of the symbolic order ensuing from phallic hegemony by means of her frank, literal "reading" of the lesbian body. In Wittig's overall démarche, the libertarian lesbian distils a "science of oppression" from the quandaries she has endured, and eventually becomes a "runaway slave" fleeing from her subjection to heterosexual dominance and searching for a lost (or as yet not existing) humanness whose "neuter" character makes it capable of embracing an open-ended number of liberated sexualities. On these assumptions, the present study focuses on how Wittig's understanding of lesbian existence leads to the recuperation of a non-alienatory universality of the human, which she designates by a term rarely used in French: mêmeté. In light of this universal dimension, Wittig's "oblique" critique of sexual difference -- far from intending a general lesbianization of the world -- envisages an endless proliferation of sexualities within the commonality of their uniqueness.


1. The Opoponax (1964), Monique Wittig's first novel, opens with the sentences: "The little boy whose name is Robert Payen comes into the classroom last, crying, Who wants to see my weewee-er? Who wants to see my weewee-er? He is buttoning his pants."[3] With this puerile scene of attempted genital exposure, Wittig anticipates emblematically the prevalent exhibitionism of phallic hegemony she intends to deconstruct. Although little Robert is afflicted and will die soon after his brief appearance at the novel's overture, he does not fail to reveal to Catherine Legrand -- Wittig's alter ego -- the clue to his delusive self-perception by declaring that he has a "weewee-er" because he is "a big boy."[4] Robert's stress on his own phallic advantage illustrates Wittig's basic claim concerning the way sexual difference is constructed: "Men have made what differentiates them from [women] the sign of domination and possession."[5] Contrasting with the phallus as the illusory, but effective mark of male self-empowerment, the female genitals are inscribed at the very center of Wittig's theoretical and literary work as tokens of a literalness of meaning aiming to debunk the symbolic constellations of male pre-eminence. From this perspective, vaginal depth is not merely the abstract opposite of phallic apotheosis, but the sign of a deconstructive principle devised to reduce the phallus to the prosaic reality of a penis. Since Wittig's basic credo runs: "[...] I distrust symbols, I believe in the literal [...],"[6] her critical project is not intended to lead up to a post-phallic sacralisation of female genitals, but to explore femininity as an as yet not articulated dimension of the human. The critical scope of Wittig's sexual de-mythologisation is clearly conveyed when, at the end of her parable Paris-la-politique, she resumes the principle of her newly won insights: "ni dieux ni déesses, ni maîtres ni maîtresses"[7] -- "neither gods nor goddesses, neither masters nor mistresses."[8]


2. Against the patriarchal contenders of an immutable order grounded in nature or divine will,[9] Wittig emphasizes the necessity of introducing "the diachronicity of history into the fixed discourse of eternal essences."[10] On the assumption that the beginning of history is identical with the inception of the human, Wittig contends that there is, strictly speaking, "no nature in society,"[11] and, more importantly, that there is for mankind no "reality before it has been given shape by words rules regulations."[12] According to Wittig's radical historicism, all cultural achievements and their institutional formations bear the imprint of human contingency, and therefore neither the beginning of history nor any of its salient epochs can lay claim to the status of an unquestionable paradigm. It is thus not surprising that Wittig rejects the presumption of naturalness or divine conformity attributed mostly to the historically victorious patriarchy, and at times even to its complementary heterosexual alternative: matriarchy. Both are dismissed on the same grounds, since, as Wittig is careful to underline, "[m]atriarchy is no less heterosexual than patriarchy: it is only the sex of the oppressor that changes."[13] As a lesbian, Wittig refuses to idealize the normativity of matriarchy by underscoring that homosexuality is not merely the desire for one's own sex, but "the desire for something else that is not connoted," namely "resistance to the norm."[14] On account of the prevalent heterosexual framework in which cultural memory has been transmitted and transformed, it is no wonder that lesbian history has been deeply marked by its lacunary character. Being well aware that historical science can offer no adequate basis for grounding the emancipatory claims of her lesbianism, Wittig's aim is not to reconstruct the lesbian past. Rather, she attempts to fill up the intervals and gaps left over by official heterosexual historiography with the lesbian topics of her jocular inventiveness. Significantly, Lesbian Peoples, the book Wittig wrote along with Sande Zeig, begins with a motto that seems to parody the Johannine and Goethean speculative contentions of an original Logos[15] or Act[16]. The quotation runs: "In the beginning, if there ever was such a time."[17]


3. The "materials for a dictionary" collected in Lesbian Peoples repeatedly refer to the presumptive origins of lesbianism at the dawn of history. Since the presented strains of vague recollection could serve at the most to sketch out a speculative narrative, they lay no claim to historical factuality. Nevertheless, the hypothetical depiction of the deeds of the immemorial Amazons sheds light on Wittig's decision to inscribe present-day lesbian reflection in the framework of an age-old libertarian thrust toward the concrete realization of universal humanness. Tellingly, the entry on "conflict" in the French version of Lesbian Peoples begins with the quote: "There are traces of dark conflicts in the fables of the bearers of fables."[18] Hinting at the unreliability of the sources, the sentence, which is attributed to the probably imaginary "Julienne Borge," is designed to introduce the extant data of a fable of origins, according to which an archetypical clash between "mothers" and "Amazons" not only marked the past indelibly, but also keeps repeating itself throughout history. The reason for this ur-dissension was the "breach" that the amazons tried to find in the mothers' "dream of absolute and totalitarian engendering."[19] The inevitable secession ultimately led to contradictory worldviews and practices manifested first and foremost at their gatherings. While the amazons came together on the hills "for festivals, assemblies, [and] sojourns in the woods," the mothers began building on the hills "places of worship" dedicated to the goddesses and surrounded by woods that became "sacred."[20] The introduction of the fundamental distinction between the sacred and the profane by the mothers, that is, by "those who reign and who engender,"[21] signals a turning point of humanity on which Wittig and Zeig elaborate in the entry on "history." Although some narrative details of the conflict between mothers and amazons in this entry are at variance with other depictions of the same incident, mothers are still portrayed as playing a pre-eminent religious role, for they "began fabricating representations of themselves in dried mud, sculptured stone, or on flat surfaces with colours."[22] As "reigning goddesses who demanded sacrifices,"[23] the mothers will eventually modify "the original tongue by introducing the sacred into the 'meaning,' confusing the basic literal sense with their symbols."[24] While in the first account amazons manifested their opposition to the instauration of maternal sacrality by just occupying alternative spaces for their gatherings, according to the second account, they will resist the far more consequential induction of the sacred through symbolism by keeping "the 'old language of letters and numbers.'"[25] Thus, the amazons' struggle functions as a proleptic cipher of Wittig's own lesbian literature in the arena of re-appropriation of a literalness concealed by the alienating systems of symbolic representation that structure the history and historiography of heterosexual power.


4. The protagonists of Wittig's narratives echo with profusion her principled rejection of the symbolic and the sacral world it articulates. The "women" in Les Guérillères, for example, declare that "they have no need of myths or symbols,"[26] and that religious ideologies are "no longer valid."[27] In spite of such contentions, however, Wittig does not refrain from making ample use of religious imagery and symbolism at all levels and in all contexts of her fictional work. From a biographical point of view this is hardly surprising, for, as The Opoponax suggests, biblical religiosity, literary mythology, and Catholic ceremonial, had a strong impact on the nascent worldview of the future writer. However, in Wittig's work the echoes and reminiscences of these influences undergo a radical bending or alteration of meaning [28] in correspondence to Wittig's overall design to "foster disorder in all its forms." [29] In the most literal sense of the word, Wittig attempts to "pervert" the sacred by linguistic and literary strategies as diverse as the varieties of its manifestations. In The Lesbian Body, for instance, a characteristically "deviant" transference of meaning is apparent in the doxology of "the glorious supremely divine Astarte" when Wittig alludes, in a reverse temporal perspective, to the futurity implied in the Name of the biblical God by addressing the female divinity as: "she who cannot have been that which she will not be."[30] In another indicative passage, Wittig homosexualizes the imagery of the Christian passion, and apostrophizes her Beloved One as "m/y veil of Lesbos your face all flat painted on the linen of Veronica like the anguished features of Christa the much-crucified."[31] Eventually, even the mention of Mary's Annunciation in Catholic ritual prayer undergoes a lesbian transmutation when it reads: "I say blessed are thou among women [...] may you conceive yourself as I at last see you over the greatest possible space [...]."[32] In such sites of discursive "per-version," knots of sacral meaning are disentangled and their constituents are re-contextualized within the dimensions of corporeal desire, from which they were once alienated by means of symbolic representation. In the last analysis, Wittig is not offering feminist-heathen variations on the Creator, Jesus or Mary, but debunking their symbolic function for the sake of re-appropriating the Body at the locus where the compulsory ideology of heterosexuality sealed its double-bind with the sacred.


5. Wittig's lesbian resistance is directed primarily against the sexual implications of the disjunctive logic that perpetuates the pattern of mutual exclusion initiated by the sacred/profane binomial. Her strategy is that of the "Trojan horse," that is, of a "war machine" functioning in the "hostile territory" of the heterosexual language with the aim of turning it against itself. While the immediate goal of Wittig's warfare is "to pulverize the old forms and formal conventions,"[33] the final aim of her belligerency is to recreate not a vision of things, but of "la première vision des mots, dans sa puissance" -- "the primary vision of words, in its force."[34] This mention of a powerful vision of words -- and not of "things," as the American translation has it -- remits to the actual kernel of Wittig's reflection on a utopian new language that attempts to regain a non-symbolic access to reality by means of the literalness Wittig attributed to the amazons' language of "letters and numbers." Indicatively, the entry on "Language" in Lesbian Peoples insists that "the mothers lived in permanent representation,"[35] and surmises that in the ancient language of the amazons "[t]he significations and the phonemes had [...] a different relation between them." Going into more detail, the entry points out that "[o]ne cannot imagine that this language was composed of 'sentences' with a construction and a syntax as rigid, rigorous, repressive as those we know."[36] Read against this precision, Wittig's over-arching conviction that -- with respect to language -- "everything has to be remade starting from basic principles,"[37] attains an unexpected scope, since it implies accomplishments far beyond the reach of what Wittig herself or any individual author could possibly achieve in a lifetime. What Wittig actually envisages is a "language without consonants," which resembles the song of the "white whale" and therefore is not composed of sentences, but of modulations.[38] Not by chance, these determinations are mentioned in the article on "vowel"/"voyelle," which is the closing entry of the French version of Lesbian Peoples. In this prominent locus, Wittig depicts a utopian language, which, free from consonantal obstructions, consists only of acoustical continuities that would seem to resonate with the ululation of Minerva's owl,[39] or, more significantly, with what in Les Guérillères is termed "the music of the spheres."[40] Such a language follows out the realization that "Being as being is not divided,"[41] and is therefore capable of opening up a horizon where the principle of "either...or" is no more valid.[42] By taking the literalness of continuous Being to its last consequences, this language supersedes the mark of the sacred and its opposite, and is liable to reflect the potentially infinite complexities of the sexual beyond the categorial disjunction of the male and the female.


6. While the mothers' heterosexual regime can only be projected "poetically" into an actually irrecoverable past, the binary structures of thought that pervade patriarchal heterosexuality have an assignable beginning in the history of Western philosophy. According to Wittig, it was Aristotle who, after having contended that the Pythagorean school introduced duality in thought, went on to interpret metaphysically the Pythagorean conceptual series of opposites designed originally to serve only as tools for measurement and classification. Thus, in the first table of oppositions as recorded by Aristotle in the first book of Metaphysics (I, 5, 6) the series including the concepts of male, right, light and good functions as the antithetical complement of the series including the concepts of female, left, dark and bad. Since, in this dialectical scheme, Being and the One mark the essence of godlike maleness, while non-Being and the Many constitute the ontological determinants of unrestful femaleness,[43] the ideological distinction between male and female became an insurmountable axiological difference sanctioned by ontology. Despite the age-old allegations to the contrary, there is, according to Wittig, no "natural" or "eternal" necessity that would warrant this dichotomy and its asymmetry, but just the contingencies of political interests that have recast the ideological division between men and women as if it were a natural one. Basically, the ideology of sexual difference functions as a censorship that masks "on the ground of nature, the social opposition between men and women."[44] In this thoroughly constructed system of heterosexual distribution, females become not only the possession of men (as indicated in the etymology of "wo-men": "those who belong to another"[45]), but also carry the burden of compulsory reproduction. With this plight in view, Wittig pleads for "the destruction of heterosexuality as a social system which is based on the oppression of women by men and which produces the doctrine of the difference between the sexes to justify this oppression."[46] Far from implying the negation or rejection of sexual diversity as such, this critical line of argument assumes that the acknowledgement of the diversities of the sexual is sensu stricto only possible once the naturalizing ideology of sexual binarism has been overcome. Thus in the self-interpretive introduction to her parable Les Tchiches et les Tchouches, Wittig maintains that there is no "différence anatomique" that would justify the construction of two mutually exclusive groups which, in fact, correlate with "women" and "men." On account of the oppression of one group by the other, the "aspects physiques" of the Tchiches and Tchouches are indeed divergent, but this ascertainable fact does not contradict Wittig's fundamental contention that "on a affaire à la même race."[47] In reverting the parable to its sexual literalness, it becomes apparent that Wittig aims at depicting a commonality of the human liable of encompassing the undeniable diversities of the sexual, while at the same time suggesting that the traits of these diversities do not warrant the formation of two asymmetrical groups connected through the bond of male supremacy. For Wittig, the mark of diversity is, by itself, not a token of dominion.


7. Although the variability of sexed bodies does not warrant the assumption of an essential difference between two mutually exclusive sexes engaging in a unique combination of unilateral dependency,[48] heterosexuality attempts to justify its system of female subordination and homosexual phobias by referring to an allegedly "'already there' of the sexes."[49] It is essential to the dominant heterosexual thought to "refuse[] to turn inward on itself to apprehend that which questions it,"[50] since only thus can it exempt itself from reflecting critically on the sexual constraints imposed by historical factuality. Like the Tchouches of the parable, the contenders of heterosexuality have no inclination to justify their construction of sexual difference, since "[l]a domination suffit. La domination est la preuve."[51] Well aware that the force of arguments alone cannot shatter an ideology, Wittig developed a confrontation strategy based on the idea that an adequate perception of sexual oppression can only be obtained by "step[ping] out" of the foreseen tracks of politics and culture. Indicatively, the outlook of the lesbian, who refuses to assume the role of a woman and has no desire of becoming a man, is depicted in Wittig's work as the vantage point of an "escapee" or "fugitive slave." As a "not-woman" and as a "not-man,"[52] the lesbian lays claim to a site beyond the categories of binomial sex difference resulting from the supersedure of the heterosexual ideology in the name of what Wittig terms the "science of oppression."[53] Having had a first-hand experience and knowledge of the consequences of heterosexual non-reflectivity, Wittig carefully avoids grounding her emancipatory objectives in a dogmatic understanding of what nature is or is not. Since nature can only be conceived as the result of historical and cultural mediations, the escapee's insight into the workings of the heterosexual regime eventually compels the acknowledgement that only an unprejudiced perception of the given sexual variability is capable of sustaining a configuration of society without reference to the exclusionary logic of dichotomic sexual difference. As The Lesbian Body would put it, what is at stake is the capacity to lose "the sense [...] of the stupid duality with all that flows therefrom."[54] While this dull dualism is the characteristic scheme of thought of the "straight mind," the "oblique point of view" of the lesbian "standing at the outposts of humankind"[55] enables the envisioning of a non-exclusionary "beyond," where -- in the words of Terence -- "humani nihil a me alienum puto."[56]


8. The figure of the Maroon or runaway slave, to which Wittig compares the rebellious lesbian throughout her writing, dwells in a no-man's-land between the male "pouvoir qui se sait" and the female "esclavage qui s'ignore."[57] For having exposed the alleged natural difference of sexes as a merely ideological construction, the runaway earns the enmity not only of the masters, but also of the slaves zealous of preserving the meagre advantages of their delusional stability. This is no wonder, since the process of libertarian empowerment as explicated in Wittig's materialist feminism leads from the unacknowledged immersion in the servitude of womanhood to the consciousness of women being objects of class oppression, who will eventually strive to become individual subjects forging their own destinies. In the emancipatory process, the presumptive factuality of womanhood is unmasked as an "'imaginary formation,' which reinterprets physical features (in themselves as neutral as any others but marked by the social system) through the network of relationships in which they are perceived."[58] Although the category "woman" is merely a mythical or imaginary construct, those designated as such by their oppressors constitute a socially regulated class. In order to achieve liberation from this unreal, but nonetheless effective entanglement, the oppressed women must attain class-consciousness and be determined "to kill the myth of 'woman' including its most seductive aspects."[59] Even if it is a sine qua non for exposing the arbitrariness of the woman construct, the self-understanding as a class that is being oppressed is not identical with the subjectivity of the individuals in question. Since no individual is reducible to the conditions of her or his oppression, subjectivity as a dynamic force beyond class solidarity has to be acknowledged, according to Wittig, as the actual formative agent of history. For sure, both the class of subjected "women" and the class of subjecting "men" are vowed to disappear, since "there are no slaves without masters."[60] But once this occurs, subjectivities will have to cope with the deranging literal truth that there are neither men nor women. As Wittig had stressed before, lesbianism "opens onto another dimension of the human"[61] namely, one in which the sexual complexity of subjectivities is defined without reference to the myth of sexual difference.


9. Wittig's materialist feminism is the result of one of the most creative receptions of Marxian thought in the second half of the 20th century. Despite her acknowledgement of Marxism as "the last avatar of materialism, the science which has politically formed us,"[62] Wittig raises against its traditional contenders two basic objections deriving from her own libertarian philosophy of oppressed and abject subjectivities. First and foremost, Wittig criticizes that Marxist class-consciousness purports to share a common awareness of exploitation and the struggle against it, but fails to convey the need to constitute individual subjects forging their own personal history. Fearing "bourgeois" divisiveness and hoping that conflictive issues (such as those incumbent on sexual difference) will disappear in the coming classless society, Marxism "has prevented all categories of oppressed peoples from constituting themselves historically as subjects [...] of their struggle [...]."[63] Since Marxism left unexamined the supposedly "natural" relation between men and women, and hid the class conflict between them behind an allegedly natural division of labor, acknowledging the sexual exploitation of women by men even in the foreseeable Marxian utopia is one of the most far-reaching consequences of Wittig's "science of oppression." Secondly, Wittig castigates all Marxist-inspired revolutions to the present for being incapable of dealing with the issue of Otherness. Since straight societies are based at every level on the necessity of referring to the different or other in order to exclude it all the more effectively, Wittig stresses that the categories of Difference invoked by many contemporary theoreticians were, for Marx, categories of social conflict, "which throughout the class struggle were supposed to destroy each other."[64] From a Marxian perspective, the process by which the position of the bourgeois One is taken over by the proletarian Other culminates with the self-abolition of this Other in order to render possible a true dialectical reconciliation. However, as Wittig underscores, the foreseen final stadium has never been attained by Marxist revolutions to date. Instead, the Other "has substituted itself for the One, keeping under it huge groups of oppressed peoples that would in turn become the Other of the ex-others, become by then the One."[65] Such an abrupt arrest of Marxian dialectics proved to be an additional and decisive factor retarding the insurgency of female subjects. Having ascertained that despite the revolutionary becoming One of some Others, women did not change their status as objects of oppression, but just the holders of their subjection, Wittig directed her critical questioning to the issue of a future "humanness once all categories of others will be transferred onto the side of the One, of Being, of the Subject."[66]


10. Since the "dialectical thought (or thought of difference)"[67] that originated in Classical Greece evinces itself as an exclusionary logic of Otherness, Wittig's attempt to "dialecticize dialectics"[68] for the sake of empowering oppressed subjectivities implies a radical rebuttal of contemporary exaltations of alterity in all its forms: "Jewish, Black, Red, Yellow, Female, Homosexual, Crazy."[69] The imposition of the label of difference on someone cannot be transformed into an emancipatory "right" or "pride to be different,"[70] for, according to Wittig, such a transformation would still continue to operate with the oppressive scheme of the One and the Other. Against a philosophy and politics aiming to re-appropriate alterity, Wittig contends: "the Other cannot essentially be different from the One, it is the Same, along the lines of what Voltaire called the Sameness[,] la Mêmeté."[71] With the seldom used Voltairean neologism Wittig is referring to the locus of the fundamental commonality of the human, which, as she explains by quoting Terence a second time, entails that "'nothing human is alien' to the One or to the Other."[72] Wittig's inscription of the Voltairean concept of Mêmeté in her own discursivity evokes a comprehensiveness comparable to that of the Heraclitean λóγος as the κοινóν (i.e. the universal), which enciphers the all-encompassing reconciliation of opposites. Thus, against the backdrop of the universal Mêmeté of humanness, Wittig structures a libertarian move going from the self-identification with the class struggle of women to the affirmation of individual subjectivities that have escaped their entrapment in the alterity of womanhood. Even though the lesbian/guérillère appears throughout Wittig's work to introduce the decisive struggle to transform mere thought differences into political oppositions, there is no silencing of the fact that the raison d'être of her libertarian program lies beyond the mere reassessment of lesbian identity. Not surprisingly, Wittig carefully underlines that "for the moment"[73] lesbianism provides the only social form for a free existence beyond the categories of "man" and "woman," and envisions pari passu a futurity that has left behind even the memory of the secular strife that lesbians had fostered. This privileged Time marks the inception of Subjectivities that have overcome not only the quandaries of sexual difference, but also even the struggle for its abolition. Significantly, the most precise depiction of sexual Subjectivities beyond alienation is offered by Wittig not in a literary piece, but in Paradigm, a philosophical essay in which she declares: "For us there are, it seems, not one or two sexes, but many (cf. Guattari/Deleuze), as many sexes as there are individuals."[74] Wittig's lesbian utopia can only be one if it is for all, and this can only be warranted when subsumptions under categories of sexual difference finally yield to the incontrovertible evidence that the corporeality of each Subjectivity bears the mark of a radically individualized and therefore unclassifiable sexuality. On this account, Mêmeté, being the abbreviation for the irreducible Subjectivity of the individual, evinces itself as the reconciliatory commonality that enables the deployment of radical sexual diversification within the framework of the human. Even if the theoretical and literary prolepses of this final supersedure are indispensable for giving direction to the emancipatory struggle, they should never be mistaken for the future concrete realization of the aims pursued by the lesbian "science of oppression." It is not by chance that "Wittig," the protagonist of Across the Acheron, will eventually realize in her peregrination through hell that "Paradise is in the shadows of swords and peace at the end of a lance."[75]


11. Since gender constitutes "the linguistic index of the political opposition between the sexes and of the domination of women,"[76] Wittig envisages its deconstruction parallel to the philosophical and political abolition of sex. Essentially, gender is an "enforcement of sex in language"[77] that obviates the "literal" uniqueness of sexual bodies in order to transform them into entities that are capable of "symbolizing" only inadequately the clear-cut categories of sexual difference. Well aware that "personal pronouns engineer gender through language,"[78] Wittig will promote personal pronouns to the rank of subject matter in three of her major narratives. While L'Opoponax revolves around the issue of "l'on" (one) and Les Guérillères focuses on "elles" (the untranslatable feminine form of "they"), Le Corps lesbian can be read as a meditation on the "j/e" (the French for "I" written with a slash in between). Despite the obvious differences of the grammatical perspectives they imply, the three pronouns are, in an important respect, functional equivalents, for they all aim at debunking the presumptive universality of the masculine by making obsolete the prevalent categories of gender. Wittig's perhaps most far-reaching elaborations on this issue relate to the French indefinite pronoun "on" whose neuter and neutral nature she underscores: "One, on, lends itself to the unique experience of all locutors who, when saying I, can re-appropriate the whole language and reorganize the world from their point of view."[79] Clearly, the aspiration to universality conveyed by the indeterminacy of the "on" contrasts with the unwarranted universalisation of homo/homme/man made apparent in a sentence like: "Un homme sur deux est une femme" -- "One man in two is a woman."[80] The very fact that the sentence could not retain its meaning after interchanging the nouns testifies to the fundamental asymmetry of the man/woman divide resulting in the degradation of the "female sex" to a modus deficiens of mankind. Against this backdrop, the gender neutrality of Wittig's "on" certainly does not imply forcing a semantic uniformity of sexuality, but, on the contrary, offers a linguistic framework in which sexuality can be potentiated as to include a diversity of sexes co-extensive with the number of sexed individuals. If femaleness is the gender mark of "ec-centric" subjectivities imposed by the delusive ideology of male centeredness, the neutrality of "on" undoes the mark of gender difference by exposing the arbitrariness of any categorial subsumptions under sexual categories of the given sexual diversity and reassessing the commonality of sexual uniqueness.


12. Although Wittig's use of the pronoun nous/we generally refers to the oppressed class of lesbians, there are passages in which the "nous" is designed to include "lesbians, women, and homosexual men."[81] Contrasting with the self-centeredness of the straight subject, these "minority subjects" are depicted as being like "Pascal's circle, whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere."[82] Given that for Wittig "Lesbians are not women"[83] and that she seldom deals with the specific condition of homosexual men, her inclusive use of nous is indicative of a solidarity not based on sexual self-understanding or sexual orientation, but on the obliqueness of a minority perspective that guards from the "straight" delusion of an heterosexual appropriation of universal humanness. Challenging the history of millennia, the oblique mind testifies to the necessary fragmentation of the human in the irreducible sexual diversity of its individual manifestations.[84] In correspondence with this contention, Wittig's passionate self-assertion as a lesbian does not pretend to achieve a general lesbianization of the world, but rather intends to show how the full assumption of an "ec-centric" sexual existence can be the source of empowerment for minority Subjectivities deprived of the social validation of their uniqueness. Significantly, the women in Les Guérillères -- undoubtedly Wittig's most pugnacious book -- tell the young men who have joined them in their struggle, "We have been fighting as much for you as for ourselves."[85] Thereafter, one of the Guérillères begins to sing, "Like unto ourselves / men who open their mouths to speak / a thousand thanks to those who have understood our language / and not having found it excessive / have joined with us to transform the world."[86] In a later scene reminiscent of Antonin Artaud's rebellious army of men coming down from their crosses, where the blood-sucking morpion-dieu had nailed them since time immemorial,[87] the Guérillères solemnly declare: "The vessels are upright, the vessels have acquired legs. The sacred vessels are on the move. [...] henceforward the vessels empty of seed have shrunken loins."[88] Having liberated themselves from the constrictions of reproduction, these women are on their way to an assault that, while closing the book, actually constitutes the chronological beginning of the narrative.[89] Like Artaud's desecrating rebels, Wittig's Guérillères are out to perform "a sacrilege, a violation of all the rules"[90] that emanate from the thought of Difference. Since in the world of Les Guérillères dichotomic categorizations are overcome, divinities appear at the most as "paper goddesses"[91] with a decorative function, and women themselves achieve a validation of their Subjectivity without reference to heterosexuality and motherhood. If Catherine Legrand in The Opoponax could have assumed the perspective of Les Guérillères, she would have been in a position to counter Robert Payen's self-flattering conjectures by making it clear that she is not defined by the absence of a "wee-wee-er," but by the presence of a clitoris, "the only organ in the body to have pleasure as its function."[92] The lesbian affirmation of this "presence" contravenes the silencing or denigration of female genitals throughout cultural history and necessitates a radical re-negotiation of the relationship between the sexes, which are not two, but as diverse as the number of sexed individuals. Once the constraints of the sexual binomial and its resulting hetero- and homosexual combinatories are left behind, the commonality granted by the homology between the penis and the clitoris liberates the "lesbian body" from the predicament of being marked by the vagina as the site of an absence that has been conceptualized at times as a "negative phallus."[93] Even though toward the end of her life Wittig stressed that she had never denied having a vagina, the sentence "Je n'ai pas de vagin"[94] attributed to her among others by Leo Bersani,[95] can be read as a radical refusal of the imagery of the "non-penis," and thus as an abbreviation for Wittig's revolt against the thought of Difference that reduced women to an ontology of absence. By debunking the ideology of feminine non-Being, Wittig gained access to the clitoral "kleís": the key capable of opening up the way to Mêmeté as the common human uniqueness beyond the arbitrariness of categorial divides.


Notes
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[1] Sigmund Freud. "Neue Folge der Vorlesungen zur Einführung in die Psychoanalyse" (1933 [1932]). In: Sigmund Freud. Studienausgabe. Band I: Vorlesungen zur Einführung in die Psychoanalyse und Neue Folge. Herausgegeben von Alexander Mitscherlich et al. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer Verlag, 1980, p. 345. "Male and female is the first distinction that you make when you meet another human being, and you are accustomed to making this distinction with unquestioned certainty." (Translation by the author)

[2] For a brief introduction to her life and work, cf.: Julia Creek. "Monique Wittig." In: glbtq. An encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture. General Editor: Claude J. Summers. www.glbtq.com/literature/wittig_m.html, 2002. The following essay collections focus on different aspects of Wittig's work: Marie-Hélène Bourcier and Suzette Robichon (eds.). Parce que les lesbiennes ne sont pas des femmes. Autour de l'oeuvre politique, théorique et littéraire de Monique Wittig. Actes du colloque des 16-17 juin 2001, Columbia University, Paris. Paris: Éditions Gaies et Lesbiennes, 2002; Namascar Shaktini (ed.). On Monique Wittig. Theoretical, Political and Literary Essays. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2005. For book length treatments of Wittig' s literary work, cf.: Erika Ostrovsky. A Constant Journey. The Fiction of Monique Wittig. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1991; Catherine Écarnot. L' écriture de Monique Wittig. À la couleur de Sappho. Paris: L'Harmattan, 2002.

[3] Monique Wittig. The Opoponax. Translated by Helen Weaver. Plainfield, Vermont: Daughters, Inc., 1976, p. 5. [The French original runs: "Le petit garçon qui s'appelle Robert Payen entre dans la classe le dernier en criant qui c'est qui veut voir ma quéquette, qui c'est qui veut voir ma quéquette. Il est en train de reboutonner sa culotte." (Monique Wittig. L'Opoponax. Paris: Union Générale d'Éditions, 1971, p. 7.)]

[4] Cf. Monique Wittig. The Opoponax, op. cit., p. 16.

[5] Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères. Translated from the French by David Le Vay. Boston: Beacon Press, 1985, p. 106. [The French original runs: "Ils ont fait de ce qui les différencie de toi le signe de la domination et de la possession." (Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1969, p. 153.)]

[6] Monique Wittig. Across the Acheron. Translated from the French by David Le Vay in collaboration with Margaret Crosland. London: The Women's Press, 1989, p. 87. [The French original runs: "[...] je méfie des symboles je crois à la lettre [...]." (Monique Wittig. Virgile, non. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1985, p. 102.)]

[7] Monique Wittig. "Paris-la-politique." In: Monique Wittig. Paris-la-politique et autres histoires. Paris: P.O.L., 1999, p. 51.

[8] The line of argument concerning Wittig's critique of feminist religious approaches is corroborated by the tongue-in-cheek ejaculation toward the end of the protagonist's infernal peregrination in Across the Acheron: "Ah, if only you existed, Divinity, that I might shower you with gratitude!" (Monique Wittig. Across the Acheron, op. cit., p. 88.) [The French original runs: "Ah que n'existes-tu, divinité, afin que je fasse éclater ma gratitude!" (Monique Wittig. Virgile, non, op. cit., p. 103.)]

[9] Cf. Monique Wittig. "Paradigm." In: George Stambolian and Elaine Marks. Homosexualities and French Literature. Cultural Contexts / Critical Texts. Preface by Richard Howard. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1979, p. 115. There is a revised version in French of this essay: Monique Wittig. "Paradigmes." In: Monique Wittig. La pensée straight. Paris: Éditions Balland, 2001, p. 102. The piece was not included in the antecedent English edition of the book: The Straight Mind and Other Essays. Boston: Beacon Press, 1992.

[10] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays. Boston: Beacon Press, 1992, p. 32. [The French original runs: "[...] la diachronie de l'histoire dans le discours figé des essences éternelles." (Monique Wittig. La pensée straight, op. cit., p. 75.)]

[11] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 13. [The French original runs: "[...] il n'y a pas de 'nature' en société." (Monique Wittig. La pensée straight, op. cit., p. 56.)]

[12] Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères, op. cit., 134. [The French original runs: "[...] il n'y a pas de réalité avant que les mots les règles les règlements lui aient donné forme." (Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères, op. cit., p. 192.)]

[13] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 10. [The French original runs: "Le matriarcat n'est pas moins hétérosexuel que le patriarcat: seul le sexe de l'oppresseur change." (Monique Wittig. La pensée straight, op. cit., p. 53)]

[14] Monique Wittig. "Paradigm." In: George Stambolian and Elaine Marks. Homosexualities and French Literature, op. cit., p. 114. ["L'homosexualité est le désir pour une personne de son propre sexe. Mais c'est aussi le désir pour quelque chose d'autre qui n'est pas connoté. Le désir est résistance à la norme." (Monique Wittig. "Paradigmes." In: Monique Wittig. La pensée straight, op. cit., p. 102.)]

[15] Cf. John 1,1.

[16] Cf. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. "Faust. Eine Tragödie." In: Goethes Werke. Hamburger Ausgabe in 14 Bänden. Hrsg. von Erich Trunz. München: Verlag C.H. Beck, 1976, p. 44. Interestingly, Goethe mentions, besides "Tat" (deed/act), "Sinn" (meaning) and "Kraft" (force) as alternative "interpretations" of John's "Wort" (word).

[17] Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig. Lesbian Peoples. Materials for a Dictionary. London: Virago, 1980, p. [v]. [The French original runs: "Au commencement, s'il y a eu un commencement." (Monique Wittig et Sande Zeig. Brouillon pour un dictionnaire des amantes. Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1975, p. [1].)]

[18] Monique Wittig et Sande Zeig. Brouillon pour un dictionnaire des amantes. Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1975, p. 64: "'Il y a des traces de conflits obscurs dans les fables des porteuses de fables.'" Translation by the author. There is no equivalent to this passage in the English version of the book.

[19] Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig. Lesbian Peoples. Materials for a Dictionary, op. cit., p. 36. [The French original runs: "un rêve d'engendrement absolu et totalitaire." (Monique Wittig et Sande Zeig. Brouillon pour un dictionnaire des amantes, op. cit., p. 64.)]

[20] Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig. Lesbian Peoples. Materials for a Dictionary, op. cit., p. 73. There is no corresponding entry in the French version.

[21] Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig. Lesbian Peoples. Materials for a Dictionary, op. cit., p. 73.

[22] Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig. Lesbian Peoples. Materials for a Dictionary, op. cit., p. 75.

[23] Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig. Lesbian Peoples. Materials for a Dictionary, op. cit., p. 76.

[24] Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig. Lesbian Peoples. Materials for a Dictionary, op. cit., p. 78. [The French original runs: "Les mères ont modifié la langue originelle en introduisant dans le 'sens', le sacré, en brouillant les sens premiers, littéraux avec leurs symboles, elles ont créé tout un tas de mots adaptés à leurs fantasmes." (Monique Wittig et Sande Zeig. Brouillon pour un dictionnaire des amantes, op. cit., p. 128.)]

[25] Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig. Lesbian Peoples. Materials for a Dictionary, op. cit., p. 78. [The French original runs: "la vieille 'langue des lettres et des chiffres.'" (Monique Wittig et Sande Zeig. Brouillon pour un dictionnaire des amantes, op. cit., p. 128.)]

[26] Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères, op. cit., p. 30. [The French original runs: "elles n'ont pas besoin des symboles ou des mythes" (Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères, op. cit., 38.)]. They also assert that "it is not for them to exhaust their strength in symbols."

[27] Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères, op. cit., p. 80. [The French original runs: "elles [les idéologies religeuses] n'ont plus cours." (Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères, op. cit., p. 112.)]

[28] Cf. Monique Wittig. "Le Jardin." In: Monique Wittig. Paris-la-politique et autres histoires, op. cit., p. 115, where the female "corps" have "detourné le sens" of a fairytale told by the male "êtres." A comparable reorganization of meaning takes place in the chapter "L'altération du sens" of the first piece of the book, where a Jobian "fumier" is transformed "en roses comme dans le Miracle de Genet." (Monique Wittig. "Paris-la-politique." In: Monique Wittig. Paris-la-politique et autres histoires, op. cit., p. 48.)

[29] Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères, op. cit., p. 93. [The French original runs: "cultive[r] le désordre sous toutes ses formes." (Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères, op. cit., p. 133.) ]

[30] Monique Wittig. The Lesbian Body, Translated from the French by David Le Vay. Boston: Beacon Press, 1986, p. 93. [The French original runs: "[...] la glorieuse la divine par excellence Astarté [...] celle qui ne peut pas avoir été celle qui ne sera pas." (Monique Wittig. Le Corps Lesbien. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1973, pp. 102-103.)]

[31] Monique Wittig. The Lesbian Body, op. cit., p. 35. [The French original runs: "[...] m/on voile de Lesbos ton visage tout plat peint sur le linge de Véronique tels les traits douloureux de Christa la très crucifiée. " (Monique Wittig. Le Corps Lesbien, op. cit., 30.)]

[32] Monique Wittig. The Lesbian Body, op. cit., p. 145. [The French original runs: "[...] j/e te dis sois bénie entre toutes les femmes [...] que tu t'étendes telle que j/e te vois enfin sur le plus grand espace possible [...]." (Monique Wittig. Le Corps Lesbien, op. cit., 165.)]

[33] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 69. [The French original runs: "[...] car son intention et son but sont de démolir les vieilles formes et les règles conventionnelles." (Monique Wittig. La pensée straight, op. cit., p. 120.)]

[34] Monique Wittig. La pensée straight, op. cit., p. 123. The complete French sentence runs: "Ce que l'écrivain recrée c'est bien en effet une vision, mais il ne s'agit pas de celle des choses mais plutôt de la première vision des mots, dans sa puissance." The English rendering of this sentence in the Beacon Press translation is inadequate: "[...] the task of a writer is to re-create the first powerful vision of things -- as opposed to their daily recognition." (Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 72.)

[35] Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig. Lesbian Peoples. Materials for a Dictionary, op. cit., p. 94. [The French original runs: "C'étaient des langues tout à fait adaptées aux mères qui vivaient en représentation permanente." (Monique Wittig et Sande Zeig. Brouillon pour un dictionnaire des amantes, op. cit., p. 150.)]

[36] Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig. Lesbian Peoples. Materials for a Dictionary, op. cit., p. 94. [The French original runs: "Les significations et les phonèmes avaient sans doute un rapport différent entre eux. On ne peut pas imaginer que cette langue était composée de 'phrases' avec une construction et une syntaxe aussi rigides, rigoureuses, répressives que celles que nous connaissons." (Monique Wittig et Sande Zeig. Brouillon pour un dictionnaire des amantes, op. cit., p. 151.)]

[37] Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères, op. cit., p. 134. [The French original runs: "[...] tout est à faire à partir d'éléments embryonnaires." (Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères, op. cit., p. 192)]

[38] Cf. Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig. Lesbian Peoples. Materials for a Dictionary, op. cit., p. 162.

[39] Cf. Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig. Lesbian Peoples. Materials for a Dictionary, op. cit., p. 157.

[40] Cf. Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères, op. cit., p. 136.

[41] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 81.

[42] Cf. Monique Wittig. Across the Acheron, op. cit., p. 74.

[43] Cf. Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., pp. 49-51.

[44] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 2.

[45] Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig. Lesbian Peoples. Materials for a Dictionary, op. cit., p. 165. Since this is a reference to the English etymology of the word, there is no corresponding passage in the entry on "Femme" in Brouillon pour un dictionnaire des amantes.

[46] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 20.

[47] Monique Wittig. "Les Tchiches et les Tchouches." In: Monique Wittig. Paris-la-politique et autres histoires, op. cit., p.122.

[48] Cf. Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères, op. cit., p. 102.

[49] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 4.

[50] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 3.

[51] Monique Wittig. "Les Tchiches et les Tchouches." In: Monique Wittig. Paris-la-politique et autres histoires, op. cit., p. 141.

[52] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 13.

[53] Cf. Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., pp. 18, 31.

[54] Monique Wittig. The Lesbian Body, op. cit., p. 145. [The French original runs: "[...] le sens [...] de la stupide dualité avec tout ce qui s'ensuit [...]." (Monique Wittig. Le Corps Lesbien, op. cit., p. 165.)]

[55] Cf. Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 46.

[56] The quote from Terence (Heauton Timoroumenos, 25) is part of the motto in Wittig's essay Homo Sum in the English version of her theoretical essays. (Cf. Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 46.) The French edition quotes Terence in French translation.

[57] Monique Wittig. "Les Tchiches et les Tchouches." In: Monique Wittig. Paris-la-politique et autres histoires, op. cit., p. 129.

[58] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 12.

[59] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 16.

[60] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 15.

[61] Monique Wittig. "Paradigm." In: George Stambolian and Elaine Marks. Homosexualities and French Literature, op. cit., p. 117. [The French original runs: "Le lesbianisme ouvre sur une autre dimension de l'humain [...]." (Monique Wittig. La pensée straight, op. cit., p. 105.)]

[62] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 16.

[63] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 17.

[64] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 52.

[65] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 53.

[66] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 53.

[67] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 43.

[68] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 53.

[69] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 56.

[70] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 55.

[71] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 56.

[72] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 56.

[73] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 20.

[74] Monique Wittig. "Paradigm." In: George Stambolian and Elaine Marks. Homosexualities and French Literature, op. cit., p. 119. [The French original runs: "Pour nous, il existe semble-t-il non pas un ou deux sexes mais autant de sexes (cf. Guattari/Deleuze) qu'il y a d'individus." (Monique Wittig. La pensée straight, op. cit., pp. 107-108.)]

[75] Monique Wittig. Across the Acheron, op. cit., p. 22. ["[...] le paradis est à l'ombre des épées et la paix au bout de la lance." (Monique Wittig. Virgile, non, op. cit., p. 26.)]

[76] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 77.

[77] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 79.

[78] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 82.

[79] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 84.

[80] Cf. Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 105.

[81] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 24.

[82] Cf. Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 62.

[83] Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays, op. cit., p. 32.

[84] Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) held similar views. For an analysis of his treatment of the issue of sexual individuality in the context of his "Zwischenstufenlehre" cf.: J. Edgar Bauer. "Der Tod Adams. Geschichtsphilosophische Thesen zur Sexualemanzipation im Werk Magnus Hirschfelds." In: Andreas Seeck (Hg.): Durch Wissenschaft zur Gerechtigkeit? Textsammlung zur kritischen Rezeption des Schaffens von Magnus Hirschfeld. Münster / Hamburg / London: Lit Verlag, 2003, pp. 133-155. Reprint of: "Der Tod Adams. Geschichtsphilosophische Thesen zur Sexualemanzipation im Werk Magnus Hirschfelds." In: 100 Jahre Schwulenbewegung. Dokumentation einer Vortragsreihe in der Akademie der Künste. Ausgewählt und herausgegeben von Manfred Herzer. Berlin: Verlag rosa Winkel, 1998, pp. 15-45; and J. Edgar Bauer. "'43 046 721 Sexualtypen.' Anmerkungen zu Magnus Hirschfelds Zwischenstufenlehre und der Unendlichkeit der Geschlechter." In: Capri. Herausgegeben vom Schwulen Museum. Redaktion: Manfred Herzer. Berlin: No. 33, Dezember 2002, pp. 23-30.

[85] Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères, op. cit., p. 127.

[86]Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères, op. cit., p. 128.

[87] Cf. Antonin Artaud. POUR EN FINIR AVEC LE JUGEMENT DE DIEU. In: Antonin Artaud. Oeuvres complètes, Tome XIII. Paris: Gallimard, 1974, p. 86: "[...] une armée d'hommes / descendue d'une croix, / où dieu croyait l'avoir depuis longtemps clouée, / s'est révoltée, / et, bardée de fer, / de sang, / de feu, et d'ossements, / avance, invectivant l'Invisible / afin d'y finir le JUGEMENT DE DIEU." For an analysis of the complexities of this issue cf.: J. Edgar Bauer. "Antonin Artaud: Nature, the Apocalypse, and van Gogh's Art." A paper presented at The 1997 CESNUR International Conference, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands. In: Torino: Website of CESNUR , The Center for Studies on New Religions: www.cesnur.org/2003/bauer_artaud.htm, 2003.

[88] Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères, op. cit., p. 142.

[89] Cf. Monique Wittig. "Quelques remarques sur Les Guérillères." In: Monique Wittig. La Pensée straight, op. cit., p. 145: "Pour en revenir au texte matriciel, à cette section des Guérillères écrite en premier, elle devient la dernière partie du texte, la fin textuelle du livre. Mais chronologiquement elle constitue le commencement de l'action et le début du récit parce que le livre est écrit à l'envers. Il faut donc aussi le lire à l'envers, d'où l'importance du cercle comme modus operandi (il tourne sur lui-même pour rejoindre le début du texte)."

[90] Monique Wittig. Les Guérillères, op. cit., p. 142.

[91] Monique Wittig. "Quelques remarques sur Les Guérillères." In: Monique Wittig. La Pensée straight, op. cit., p. 147: "déesses de papier." Translation by the author.

[92] Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig. Lesbian Peoples. Materials for a Dictionary, op. cit., p. 33. [No corresponding entry for "Clitoris" in the French version.]. A similar formulation can also be found in: Anne Koedt. The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm [originally published in 1970] (Chapter on: "Anatomical Evidence."). In: The CWLU Herstory Website. Archive. www.cwluherstory.com/CWLUArchive/vaginalmyth.html. [Read on July 26, 2004.] Koedt's sentence runs: "The clitoris has no other function than that of sexual pleasure."

[93] Thomas Laqueur. Making Sex. Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud. Cambridge, Massachusetts / London, England: Harvard University Press, 1992, p. 152. Laqueur specifies: "In the one sex model, dominant in anatomical thinking for two thousand years, woman was understood as man inverted: the uterus was the female scrotum, the ovaries were testicles, the vulva was a foreskin, and the vagina was a penis." (p. 236) This model of isomorphic equivalents of male and female sexual organs goes back to Galen, who contended that "women were essentially men in whom a lack of vital heat -- of perfection -- had resulted in the retention, inside, of structures that in the male are visible without." (p. 4) In this connection cf. Sándor Ferenczi's brief account of "Ein analer 'Hohlpenis' bei der Frau" included in his article: "Erfahrungen und Beispiele aus der analytischen Praxis." In: S[ándor] Ferenczi. Bausteine zur Psychoanalyse. Band III: Arbeiten aus den Jahren 1908-1933. Zweite, unveränderte Auflage. Bern und Stuttgart: Verlag Hans Huber, 1964, p. 56.

[94] Cf. Beatriz Preciado. "Gare à la gouine garou! ou Comment se faire un corps queer à partir de la pensée straight." In: Marie-Hélène Bourcier et Suzette Robichon. Parce que les lesbiennes ne sont pas des femmes... Autour de l'oeuvre politique, théorique et littéraire de Monique Wittig. Actes du colloque des 16-17 juin 2001, Columbia University, Paris. Paris: Éditions Gaies et Lesbiennes, 2002, pp. 181, 205.

[95] Cf. Leo Bersani. Homos. Cambridge, Massachusetts / London, England: Harvard University Press, 1995, p. 45.


--------------------

J. Edgar Baurer, Ph.D. University appointments in Berlin, Edinburgh, Heidelberg, Jerusalem, Kiel, Lima, Paris, Stuttgart, Tübingen and Ulm. Writer. Publications in the areas of philosophy, gender studies, contemporary religious thought and the history of psychoanalysis. Most recent publication: "On the Nameless Love and Infinite Sexualities: John Henry Mackay, Magnus Hirshfeld and the Origins of the Sexual Emancipation Movement." In: Journal of Homosexuality. John P. De Cecco, editor. The Haworth Press, Binghamton, New York, 2005, pp. 1-26.

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