The Straight Mind and Other Essays

Monique Wittig, Author
Monique Wittig, Author Beacon Press (MA) $24.95 (110p) ISBN 978-0-8070-7916-4
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Wittig ( The Lesbian Body ) is a key figure in French feminism, perhaps the foremost theorist of a profoundly radical lesbianism. Half of the nine essays in this brief collection deal directly with the politics of gender, a battlefield on which Wittig has staked out a nearly unique position: ``There is no sex. There is but sex that is oppressed and sex that oppresses.'' Drawing on de Beauvoir, Wittig strenuously resists both biological determinism and its twin, essentialism, arguing that sex itself is a social, ergo ideological, construct and that man and woman are not eternal categories. For women, she concludes, lesbianism is the logical escape from patriarchal domination. Wittig's prose is methodical and aggressive, combative and dense. The book's first half, containing the political essays, is a bit repetitive. The author is at her most elegant in the literary essays, which explicate the complex relationship between literary form and ideology. As a result, these ostensibly literary essays offer the most cogent statement of her political beliefs and, consequently, the most satisfying reading. (Feb.)
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