When I first approached Wittig’s work, I didn’t realise just how disturbed this woman really was. She is the author of a book called “The Lesbian Body”. One would think that a book with such a title and supposedly written by a lesbian would be a book that Lesbians would find interesting, useful or perhaps even cathartic. But no, this book is fucking sick. Honestly, it actually reminds me of descriptions I’ve read of the corpses of Jack The Ripper victims.
Yes, I understand that art is meant to shock, but this has our name on it, this is supposedly an account or representation of not only our physical bodies, but the product of a lesbian mind. There is nothing lesbian about it.
I’ll let these passages speak for themselves:
Clearly this came from a very troubled mind, most likely from the mind of a person who was a victim of child sexual abuse. There is nothing Lesbian about this book at all, and yet it carries our name.
Now, as for her academic writing, I agree with her that Lesbians are not “women” in the heterosexual sense of the term. But my reasoning is VERY different to Wittig’s. For a start, she does not refer to Lesbians as a distinct biological group. In fact, she even denies biological differences between men and women!!! She refers to Lesbians as “lesbian society” as if we are merely a group of women who have chosen to reject men as some kind of feminist cause. This is WRONG WRONG WRONG!!! The following is the first page of Wittig’s essay “One is Not Born a Woman” (1981).
What she fails to grasp, what all “lesbian feminists” who are not biological lesbians fail to grasp, is that straight women are a distinct biological group who participate in their own patriarchal oppression because of their own biological nature. Lesbians are different, not by choice but because we have a different nature to straight women due to our homosexual orientation.
She goes on to refer to “lesbianism” as a choice, and something one can become.
This erases the very existence of biological lesbians by appropriating our name in order to establish a supposedly “feminist” movement. What we, biological lesbians, MUST do is refuse to put up with these lies, we must not allow our name to be used as a feminist banner because it promotes lies that undermine our ability to understand and to name our own very existence!!! Straight women are born straight whether they choose to reject men and sleep with women or not. Action does NOT change biological orientation!!!
So, why does Wittig and similar “lesbian feminists” take our name and abuse it’s meaning for their own feminist cause?? Well, I suspect that it is because for them, identifying as being “Lesbians” is viewed as a way out, as an escape from abuse at the hands of men, and from the straight male and straight female dichotomy. Ironically, while the majority of these women have suffered at the hands of male sexual violence, they refuse to recognise that male biology is different to female biology and instead blame society and culture. I understand that this may be tempting because it gives them hope that men in the future may behave better, BUT it simply isn’t true and I point to the history of humanity as my proof. Study history and anthropology and tell me that you honestly believe that men and women are the same. Tell me that you think that patriarchal societies developed around the world simultaneously without heterosexual human biology being the root cause. Feminist social constructionism gives straight women hope that men will one day stop raping and killing them, it shields them from reality.
I suspect (though I don’t know) that Wittig (like many straight women who identify as being “lesbians”) was a victim of child sexual abuse. For these women, “Lesbian” seems to be a way of taking back power and gives them a sense of purification. While I can empathise and feel compassion for women who have been abused, I can’t stand by and allow them to continue to describe themselves as “lesbians” because it is a misrepresentation that does real harm to actual biological lesbians. We are not them and they are not us, yet because they use our name, “lesbianism” has been, and still is, viewed as a pathology resulting from CSA. This is extremely damaging, not only because it gives a false impression about what we are to straight people, but it also has an impact upon our own understanding of who and what we are, it takes away from us our ability to understand our own lesbian nature. It is the ultimate erasure because it implies that we do not actually exist, that we are somehow broken heterosexuals rather than the biological lesbians that we really are.