Uncommon Violence, Praxis, and Aesthetics in the Novels of Monique Wittig
3 ANATOMICAL CHAOS 97
ANATOMICAL CHAOS C H A P T E R T H R E E The body that is the subject of study in Monique Wittig’s Le Corps Lesbien at once becomes a disruptive oddity in the standard medical/social lexicon through the immediate modification of the noun by the adjective lesbien. The author identi- fies with the title of her third novel a specific body situated along the axes of gender and sexual orientation that exists outside the heterosexual sociobiological realm. Since medical textbooks do not identify particular anatomical character- istics unique to gay women, and the physical bodies of lesbians are eclectic and dissimilar, the two terms lesbian and body immediately coexist in an awkward and unfamiliar coupling. The union of these two terms therefore gives birth to a need to differentiate le corps lesbien (the lesbian body) from le corps humain (the human body) and even le corps féminin (the feminine body). If the constituents of its corporal uniqueness are not anatomical, the lesbian body must possess other characteristics that explain its singularity. As Leigh Gilmore observes, “There is no stable referent, either anatomical or metaphorical, that makes the bodies les- bian” (229). It is the direct attempt to articulate the foundation of these differences that becomes a primary focus of Le Corps Lesbien. Given the complexity of this task, Wittig must assume a particularly radical position as author/narrator, using lesbian feminist semiotics to challenge the powerful historical male/heterosexist inf luences on le corps lesbien: “What she wanted,...
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