quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

Mathieu was the first to establish women in the social sciences as a sociological and anthropological entity, that is, not as appendages to men, but as a group which stands on its own.

Delphy coined “materialist feminism,” and she changed the Marxist concept of class, showing it to be obsolete since it does not take into account the kind of work that has no exchange value, work that represents two thirds of the work provided globally.

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quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

the most important aspect of materiality was ignored. There is, on the one hand, the physical and mental exertion attached to the kind of work that is merely physical service to one or several persons without any compensation in wages, and, on the other hand, the physical and mental implications of the kind of work that robs the whole person of herself night and day.

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quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

But Guillaumin is more widely known to have defined the double aspect of the oppression of women: a private appropriation by an individual (a husband or a father) and a collective appropriation of the whole group, including celibate individuals by the class of men. In other words, “sexage.” If you are unmarried, you will have to be available to take care of the sick, the aged, the weak, whether they belong to your family or not.

quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

Every system of domination establishes divisions at the material and economic level. Furthermore, the divisions are abstracted and turned into concepts by the masters, and later on by the slaves when they rebel and start to struggle. The masters explain and justify the established divisions as a result of natural differences. The slaves, when they rebel and start to struggle, read social oppositions into the so-called natural differences.

quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

For there is no sex. There is but sex that is oppressed and sex that oppresses. It is oppression that creates sex and not the contrary. The contrary would be to say that sex creates oppression, or to say that the cause (origin) of oppression is to be found in sex itself, in a natural division of the sexes preexisting (or outside of) society.

quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

The class struggle is precisely that which resolves the contradictions between two opposed classes by abolishing them at the same time that it constitutes and reveals them as classes. The class struggle between women and men, which should be undertaken by all women, is that which resolves the contradictions between the sexes, abolishing them at the same time that it makes them understood.

quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

A materialist feminist approach to women’s oppression destroys the idea that women are a “natural group”: “a racial group of a special kind, a group perceived as natural, a group of men considered as materially specific in their bodies.”

quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

However, most of the feminists and lesbian-feminists in America and elsewhere still believe that the basis of women’s oppression is biological as well as historical.

It is still the same method of finding in women and men a biological explanation of their division, outside of social facts.

quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

Matriarchy is no less heterosexual than patriarchy: it is only the sex of the oppressor that changes. Furthermore, not only is this conception still imprisoned in the categories of sex (woman and man), but it holds onto the idea that the capacity to give birth (biology) is what defines a woman. Although practical facts and ways of living contradict this theory in lesbian society,

quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

there are lesbians who affirm that “women and men are different species or races (the words are used interchangeably): men are biologically inferior to women; male violence is a biological inevitability . . .” By doing this, by admitting that there is a “natural” division between women and men, we naturalize history, we assume that “men” and “women” have always existed and will always exist.

quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

Not only do we naturalize history, but also consequently we naturalize the social phenomena which express our oppression, making change impossible.

quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

A lesbian has to be something else, a not-woman, a not-man, a product of society, not a product of nature, for there is no nature in society.

The refusal to become (or to remain) heterosexual always meant to refuse to become a man or a woman, consciously or not. For a lesbian this goes further than the refusal of the role “woman.”

quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

It is our historical task to define what we call oppression in materialist terms, to make it evident that women are a class, which is to say that the category “woman” as well as the category “man” are political and economic categories not eternal ones. Our fight aims to suppress men as a class, not through a genocidal, but a political struggle.

For “woman” does not exist for us, while “women” is the product of a social relationship.

quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

outside of the class problems as traditionally defined, they were considered “bourgeois” problems that would disappear with the final victory of the class struggle. “Individualistic,” “subjectivist,” “petit bourgeois,” these were the labels given to any person who had shown problems which could not be reduced to the “class struggle” itself.

And when an economic transformation took place, the people themselves did not change.

quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

Lesbian is the only concept I know of which is beyond the categories of sex (woman and man), because the designated subject (lesbian) is not a woman, either economically, or politically, or ideologically.

our survival demands that we contribute all our strength to the destruction of the class of women within which men appropriate women. This can be accomplished only by the destruction of heterosexuality as a social system

quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

When the general state of things is understood (one is not sick or to be cured, one has an enemy) the result is that the oppressed person breaks the psychoanalytical contract. This is what appears in testimonies, along with the teaching that the psychoanalytical contract was not a contract of consent but a forced one.

These discourses of heterosexuality oppress us in the sense that they prevent us from speaking unless we speak in their terms.

quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

let us say that we break off the heterosexual contract

the straight concepts are undermined. What is woman?

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.

quotes/notes from The Straight Mind by Monique Wittig 

This idea that from an extreme point of view one can criticize and modify the thought and the structures of society at large is not a new one. We owe it to Robespierre and Saint-Just. Marx and Engels in their German Ideology extended the idea by affirming the necessity for the most radical groups to show their point of view and their interests as general and universal, a stand that touches both the practical and philosophical points of view.

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