Excremental Eros: Pleasurable Decomposition and The Lesbian Body

Mary Catherine Foltz



I contemplate bodily fluids as they pull us toward the obscenity of the body in its refusal to maintain comportment, its mockery of margins and movement beyond cleansed narratives of the self. In this analysis, I move through two aspects of Monique Wittig’s The Lesbian Body: representations of excremental eros that awaken lesbians to other possible bodily schemata; and representations of ecstatic decomposition into the world. This first section of the essay shows why effluvia are so important for Wittig’s play with queer sexuality, why Wittig defines the lesbian body by its rejectamenta as we see in the epigraph: “juice, spittle, excrement, fluid” (1976, 26). Indeed, all bodies are excremental and thus we might wonder how the lesbian body is any different from others. In my analysis, I show that lesbian is not so much an identity in this text, but a way of moving in relationship to other bodies gendered as women, a way of stimulating female flesh that exceeds “compulsory heterosexuality” (see Rich, 1980). Textual and actual lesbian sex acts rupture – or “destroy” – the subordination of fluid sexuality to reproductive biological imperatives or heterosexual positioning because they circle around all of the pleasures that bodies enjoy when they are not becoming women, not being penetrated by a phallus. While discourses of heterosexuality cork and cement women’s identity into penetrative productivity of offspring or gender (women are the holes from which babies emerge; women are the holes which penises fill), lesbian encounters liquidate these formative fictions of femininity.


Keywords: Monique Wittig, The Lesbian Body, pleasure, female body, excrement