Monique Wittig

| birthplace = Haut-Rhin, France | deathdate = | deathplace = Tucson, Arizona, United States | occupation = author and feminist theorist | nationality = French | period = | genre = | subject = | movement = | influences = | influenced = | signature = | website = }}

Monique Wittig (1935 - January 3, 2003) was a French author and feminist theorist particularly interested in overcoming gender and the heterosexual contract. She published her first novel, ''L'opoponax, in 1964 . Her second novel, Les Guérillères'' (1969), was a landmark in lesbian feminism.


Monique Wittig was born in 1935 in Dannemarie in Haut-Rhin, France. She was one of the founders of the Mouvement de Libération des Femmes (MLF) (Women's Liberation Movement). On August 26, 1970, accompanied by numerous other women, she put flowers under the Arc de Triomphe to honour the wife of The Unknown Soldier; this symbolic action was considered to be the founding event of French feminism.

Wittig earned her Ph.D. from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, after completing a thesis on Le Chantier littéraire.

In 1971, she attended the Gouines rouges ("Red dykes"), the first lesbian group in Paris. She was also involved in the Féministes Révolutionnaires ("Revolutionary feminists"), a radical feminist group.

In 1976, she left Paris for the United States where she taught at numerous universities. She was a professor in women's studies and French at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she died of a heart attack on January 3, 2003.


Monique Wittig called herself a Radical lesbian." This sensibility can be found throughout her books, where she depicted only women. To avoid any confusion, she stated:

"There is no such thing as women literature for me, that does not exist. In literature, I do not separate women and men. One is a writer, or one is not. This is a mental space where sex is not determining. One has to have some space for freedom. Language allows this. This is about building an idea of the neutral which could escape sexuality".

A theorist of materialist feminism, she stigmatised the myth of "the woman", called heterosexuality a political regime, and outlined the basis for a social contract which lesbians refuse:

"...and it would be incorrect to say that lesbians associate, make love, live with women, for 'woman' has meaning only in heterosexual systems of thought and heterosexual economic systems. Lesbians are not women." (1978)

For Wittig, the category "woman" exists only through its relation to the category "man", and "woman" without relation to "man" would cease to exist.

Wittig also developed a critical view of Marxism which obstructed the feminist struggle, but also of feminism itself which does not question the heterosexual dogma.

Through these critiques, Wittig advocated a strong universalist position, saying that the rise of the individual and the liberation of desire require the abolition of gender categories.


See also

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