I’ve recently started reading The Lesbian Body by Monique Wittig. I’m not currently far enough into it to have a proper opinion, except to say that the edition I’m reading has been translated by a man and I can’t help but wonder if that’s kind of missing the point. The introduction reassures me (jokingly?) that he ‘has abandoned any male chauvinism long enough to translate this book’ – and yet. How, I find myself asking, might a female translator approach this most female of books? What might be different? what might her own perspective and reality lend to it? Instead these words, which seek to break away from male language, male culture, the male body, all the rest, make their way to me in English through the filter of a man.
It’s difficult to voice this these reservations because if I didn’t know the translator’s gender I would perhaps not be troubled by it; I wouldn’t be able to tell, I don’t think, whether it had been given to me by a woman or a man. Mostly, however, I struggle with it because I feel so conscious of the way these thoughts might make me come across as one of those women, those lesbians, one embittered and ‘man-hating’. It’s not that I think it’s productive to distance myself from such stereotypes, for I would hate to think of trying to set myself against other women and throw them under the bus, as it were, in such a way. It helps no-one, I think; and I know that there’s no point trying to make myself likable or my words palatable to the sorts of people who would use these accusations. Yet I fear that my words won’t be considered seriously if they can be so quickly dismissed.