Marie-Jo Bonnet

What Does a Woman Desire when She Desires a Woman? Publication date : May 18, 2004

The desire of women for their own sex is a subject that has been concealed and heavily censored since Antiquity. Yet it has constantly resurfaced throughout history - despite repression, denial and today's feigned indifference - and its existence is a historical and anthropological fact, whatever the dominant opinion may say.
Marie-Jo Bonnet argues that lesbianism transgresses social norms and female stereotypes, and breaks with the phallic model and the restricted social role that is assigned to women even today. She sees lesbian desire as a radical instrument of emancipation and offers an original analysis of the women's liberation movement, of recent discussions about homosexuality and, finally, of the persistence of lesbophobia.
Desire, regardless of its subject, is always a unique and complex experience, and Bonnet does not ignore this fact. In an original, wide-ranging study of lesbian love through literature, she delves into the work of such major writers of the past as Marguerite Yourcenar, Violette Leduc, Simone de Beauvoir, Djuna Barnes and, surprisingly, Madame de Sévigné, as well as of more recent writers such as Monique Wittig, Anne Garreta and Christine Angot.
The author's thesis is that women's desire for their own sex can serve as a tool to empower them to conquer their own space of creativity and liberation.

Marie-Jo Bonnet, a writer and historian, is the author of Les Relations Amoureuses Entre Femmes (XVIe-XXe siècle).