Pig-Women on the Meat Market: Problems and Potentialities of Ecofeminist Hyrbridity

Karen Ya-Chu Yang


In Western feminist studies, the nature-versus-culture debate continues to raise controversy as well as incite multifarious explorations and experiments on dualistic hierarchy reconsiderations over the past century. With the influence of third wave feminism since the 1980s, many female literary writers have ventured anti-essentialist projects to subvert and complicate definitions and performances of femininity and womanhood through poststructuralist measures. With regard to the manifestation of contentions and debates surrounding third wave feminism, this movement is generally described as upholding the common grounds of anti-essentialism. The rise of ecofeminism or ecological feminism during the 1980s has evoked much controversy in terms of re-connecting women to naturalistic categories through the feminization of nature and the naturalization of women. Stemming from ecocriticism, ecofeminism complicates ecocritical inquiries intothe relationship between the cultural human and the natural non–human by introducing gender considerations. Ecofeminism works against dualistic conventions founded on exclusive oppositions and hierarchal relations. Ecofeminist criticism seeks to expose and deconstruct patriarchal oppressions throughout human cultural history where men dominate superior roles of reason, subject and master, while women occupy the inferior side of the spectrum as nature, object and slave. Whereas many third wave feminists consider ecofeminist attempts to link women with nature as proposing a dangerous reversion to essentialist normative categories, others such as Catriona Sandilands argue that “ecofeminism suggests that liberal, radical, and socialist positions have inadequately addressed the ways in which the domination of Nature lies alongside the domination of women” (90). Linda Vance also asserts that “the project of ecofeminism is understanding, interpreting, describing and envisioning a past, present and a future, all with an intentional consciousness of the ways in which the oppression of women and the exploitation of nature are intertwined” (125). For the movement’s supporters, aligning women with nature does not reinstall fixed binaries but can work to contest the oppressiveness of dualistic hierarchies dominating the core of western philosophy. By re-examining the relation between women and nature, women can “move to a further stage in their relations with nature, beyond that of powerless inclusion in nature, beyond that of reaction against their old exclusion from culture, and towards an active, deliberate and reflective positioning of themselves with nature against a destructive and dualising form of culture” (Plumwood 39). By approaching issues of nature actively, critically, and deconstructively, ecofeminist researches seek to provide reinterpretations and reconstructions of women’s identity through non-dualistic modes of categorization. Critical rewritings about women and nature can contribute to advancing and diversifying contemporary reconstructions of female/ women identity.


In exploring the relationship between women and nature, a number of female writers of the late twentieth century approach the topic by aligning women and animals. These writings by women venture to re-examine and add to the long history of predominately male-centered debates on humans and animals by gendering the human category. In the traditions of Western philosophy, philosophers of the metaphysical heritage, such as Descartes, stand by the human-animal binary and hierarchy, whereas poststructuralist thinkers have proposed counterarguments grounded upon deconstructions of categorical definitions. Foucault, for example, has argued that our very notion of “animality” is constructed by pointing out that the understanding of the term varies among different time periods.1 Various movements from the latter half of the twentieth century have fundamentally sought to denaturalize previous constructions of hierarchies as well as blur the boundaries between different identity categories. For women writers, the pairing of women with animals proposes reconsiderations as well as reconfigurations of the female body and identity that are not based on dualistic hierarchies.


Taiwanese novelist Li Ang’s Sha Fu [The Butcher’s Wife] (1989), and French writer Marie Darrieussecq’s Truismes [Pig Tales] (1996) both use pig symbolisms to elucidate the devastating difficulties women face when attempting to combat discriminatory social constructions through hybrid pig-women references.2 In Sha Fu, the female protagonist, Lin Shi, is constantly referred to as a pig who benefits but also suffers from her butcher husband’s sadistic tyranny. As for Truismes, the narrator/ protagonist, who works as a masseuse/ prostitute is shunned by society when her swine features begin to outweigh her feminine ones. Judith Butler has famously suggested that performative identities of border crossing can constructively destabilize the power/truth/knowledge games operating behind gender categories.3 Looking at the examples of Li’s and Darrieussecq’s texts, becoming animal does invoke new possibilities to abolish gender conventions; nevertheless, such achievements also encounter challenges involving the loss of humanity, the difficulty of parodic play and the insignificance of defiance. When hybridity is condemned as a deviating abnormality, the creative potentials of hybrid identities become excluded as strenuous renditions of abnormal deviations. In the two literary works, the process of animal metamorphosis, whether literal or metaphorical, is neither simply a reductive nor liberating naturalization of the female identity, for “animal” is depicted as anthropocentrically constructed as “woman.” As a result, associations between women and animals harbor a double-bind that remains unresolved. On the one hand, instances of women-animal hybridity in literary texts signify women’s fantastic subversion of patriarchal humanity and civilization. On the other hand, this de-civilizing de-evolution estranges female characters from human society and humanistic qualities originality. This stands as ecofeminist attempts’ central crisis, for its chief potential for deconstructive hybridization contains problems of human culture estrangement.


Li Ang’s Sha Fu and Marie Darrieussecq’s Truismes illustrate the difficulty of women reconstructing identity through hybrid animalism by detailing contemporary exploitations of domesticated pig-women bodies. The relation between humans and pigs in both Asian and western cultural histories developments is fraught with conflict and ambiguity. Earliest traditions of the two cultures mostly regard pigs as symbolizing wealth and opulence. In his article “Burials, Pigs, and Political Prestige in Neolithic China”, Kim Seung-Og cites ethnographic evidence from Asia to argue that pigs are not only of importance to the Chinese diet but also to its symbolism. Pig meat and pig bones were popular grave goods for the Longshan culture (approximately 3000-2000 B.C.) during the late Neolithic age in China. Later during Chinese Han Dynasty (202 B.C.-220 A.C.), people referred to pigs as “Kong Gold” [崗金], signifying pigs financial worth (Wu 3). Archaeologists have also uncovered many pig mandibles in the burials from the period.4 In regard to western prehistoric cultures, Lawrence E. Stager observes that “The Mycenaeans [1900-1100 B.C.] and later Greeks had a positive attitude towards swine and a preference for pork in the diet” (344). Pigs were also common sacrifices for deities during Greek and Roman times. It was not until the later rise of Buddhism and Christianity in Asian and Europe respectively that initiated the long history of depicting pigs in a predominantly negative light. The growing popularity of Buddhism in China since the first century distributed doctrines of pigs as ignorant and greedy. In Europe, the rise of Christianity during the medieval era branded pigs as symbols of lewdness and gluttony. These images were then further strengthened by the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century in which animals were dismissed as lacking reason and therefore fair game for exploitation. The abuse and domestication of nature by culture soon became a critical interest for western feminist movements of the twentieth century.


By associating women with pig metaphors symbolic of domestic exploitation, lewdness, and gluttony, Sha Fu and Truismes depict women subjected to sexual exploitations executed by domineering members of society. In the former, the female protagonist suffers severely from brutal torments carried out by her butcher husband, who treats her like one of his pigs on the chopping block. As for the latter text, the narrator/protagonist makes her living by prostituting her body to fulfill her customer’s sexual desires, and soon changes into a pig-like figure. In Sha Fu, Butcher Chen’s violent treatment of his wife starts from their wedding night, where his deflowering act indicates horrific allusions between Lin Shi and squealing swines and greasy pork.

Drunk though the groom was when he came to bed, he insisted on fulfilling his conjugal obligation, causing Lin Shi to exhaust with pitiful screams what little energy she had left. Her screams of pain were so loud and lasted so long, according to her neighbors, that some people who heard them above the whistling night winds took them to be the bleating of ghostly pigs…Chen Jiangshui went into the living room and came back with a big piece of pork, dripping with fat, which he stuffed into her mouth, skin and all. With bloated cheeks, she chewed on the pork, making squishing noises as fat oozed out the corners of her mouth and dribbled down in rivulets to her chin and neck, all greasy and wet. Just then her tears finally brimmed over and ran down her face, sending a chill through her. (The Butcher’s Wife 13)5

In this scene, Lin Shi is depicted as a howling pig on the chopping block. Being force-fed a piece of fat pork after their sexual act adds to the scene’s grotesqueness as the pork’s oozing oil merges with her falling tears. This is the kind of abuse Lin Shi repeatedly endures since the first day of her marriage. Chen’s nickname as “Butcher Chen” has the double connotation of jesting about his sexual skill with women as possessing speed, aggressiveness, and accuracy, just like his profession. In the next scene, the text describes Butcher Chen’s proud and ruthless execution of a struggling and squealing pig with reference to his previous sexual intercourse with his new wife. After performing his butchering skills before his friends, he turns to seek his wife again, and her screaming cries only excite him further. Lin Shi faints before awakening to find her husband’s butcher knife hanging by their bed and drips of blood on her stained body. Chen’s slaughtering of pigs is conjoined to his abuse of his wife, both of which reward him with the satisfaction of physical and mental domination. In Truismes, the protagonist’s swine-like transformation increases her vulnerability to sexual maltreatments by her clients as her non-stop weight increase propels her inflated countenance to cross from being sensuously feminine to freakishly swine-like. Male members of the community reprimand her as “damned forever…a lost soul…a creature of the devil…[t]he mark of a Beast” (Pig Tales 23-24).6 Not long afterwards, her bloated physic eventually takes the shape of a pig literally and forces her out of human society.


In associating the process of feminization with pig transformations, Sha Fu and Truismes depict anticipations for feminine sexuality discourses through animality, but problematize prospects of sexual liberation by stressing the prostituting nature of these practices prevalent in current societies.7 In Li’s realist text set in rural Taiwan during the late 1980s, the burdens of lower class poverty and traditional female morality are the predominant factors that disparage expressions of female sexuality.8 Different from mainstream xiangtu literature (most often translated as rural, regional or native literature) populating Taiwanese literary scenes during the time, Li’s Lukang works do not follow their sentimental nostalgia for rural pasts, but rather directs attention to deconstructing the illusiveness of the innocent country image by uncovering harsh realities of oppressed women suffering in such areas. In Sha Fu, Butcher Chen’s habit of bringing home various kinds of protein before claiming sex from his wife connects sex and meat in order to indicate the exploitative relationship between financially equipped men and impoverished women. In the novella, Lin Shi continues to endure his violent behavior, exchanging the satisfaction of his sexual appetite for the support of her bodily sustenance, which also generates the gradual maturing of her feminine figure such as her growing breasts and womanly curves. Lin Shi’s sexual maltreatments correspond to her mother’s rape tragedy at the beginning of the text. In this scene, the narrator describes Lin Shi’s horror at seeing her mother being sexually attacked by a soldier. She witnesses

Pinned beneath him was her mother, whose face, whose haggard face, was flushed bright red and all aglow with a greedy light. She was chewing on one rice ball and clutching another in her hand. Low moaning sounds escaped from her mouth, which was stuffed with food. Half-eaten grains of white rice, mixed with saliva, dribbled down the side of her face, onto her neck, and down her shirtfront. (The Butcher’s Wife 7)9

While the soldier rapes Lin Shi’s mother, her mother feverishly gobbles down his offered food in order to appease her hunger. Her mother’s submission to the vulgarity and violence of the soldier’s assault expresses her willingness to give anything in exchange for the alleviation of her hunger. At the time, she is too hungry to mind the shame or feel the pain of being raped. It is not until Lin Shi rushes to her side that she break down into tears, explaining to her daughter her insufferable hunger. In the novella, both Lin Shi and her mother submit to sexual oppression as a desperate measure to survive. The fact that Lin Shi incessantly repeats her mother’s rape scene indexes the inescapable fate of powerless lower class women living in rural areas of Taiwan during the time. In Taiwan xiaoshuo de san zhong beiqing, Lee Han-Wei devotes his last section to the sorrow of Taiwanese women.10 He attributes their sorrow to two reasons. The first aspect is the hierarchical oppressions of traditional agricultural societies, which can also be explained as the patriarchal foundation of Chinese culture. The second account is women’s persistence in upholding human virtues during drastic industrial and economic transformations that have been affecting Taiwan for the last fifty years. Sha Fu elaborates on the interrelatedness of these two sorrows which afflict traditional Taiwanese women, deploring Lin Shi’s acquiesce to her husband’s sexual aggressions as not only for physical reasons but also for social ones. As a women and a wife, her society expects her to virtuously fulfill womanly duties of submissive complicity and patient endurance. Her neighbors view her equation with pigs as a normality if not a compliment: “No wonder the neighbors all remarked enviously that Lin Shi was able to exchange a body with no more than a few ounces of meat for pork by the pound. Some people had all the luck!” (The Butcher’s Wife 12).11 Pigs were considered more worthy than Lin Shi. Like Chen Hui-Ling remarks, “Women are not only objects of men’s desire, but also tragic bearers of social abuse, for Lin Shi and her mother can only survive by succumbing to cultural realities that require women’s muteness (aphasia) and closemouthed-ness (hunger). In reality, it doesn’t matter whether or not one is able to cross over (sex hierarchies), for no women can be exempt from the tragedy” (trans. mine).12 Lin Shi’s alignment with pigs exposes her society’s reduction of women to domestic merchandise regarded as a fracture of men’s property. Her marriage does not protect her from repeating her mother’s rape incident, but rather locks her into a legalized cage where she must dutifully submit herself to corporeal and mental exploitation by men and social moralities dominating Taiwanese rural communities at the time.


For Darrieussecq’s novella set in near future France, the country where western feminist theories originated and flourished, the narrator/ protagonist’s practice of sexual freedom through prostitution gradually causes her to be chastised as an inferior outsider to the majority of the public public. In the world of Truismes, prostitutions of sex and feminine aesthetics are regarded as a means to financial and social success, which brings both pleasure and pain to women. During her job interview, the narrator disregards her future boss’s sexual advancements in favor of vanity enticements promising aesthetic and social status upgrade. By agreeing to market her body, she fantasizes about advancing herself physically, financially, and socially. Her decision to become a masseuse/ prostitute is motivated by both survival and pleasure. As a professional prostitute, her accomplishments and self-recognition are based on the sexual performance of her body; hence when her feminine figure gradually transforms into a pig, she faces new uncertainties and challenges concerning her self definition. Her chief plight derives from the negative symbolism of her corporeal metamorphosis. In other words, although turning into a swine does create many physical difficulties, her predominant threats are human communities who mock and shun her because she bears the form of a fat and dirty sow. In the novella, the protagonist’s swelling figure initially increases her sensuality before going overboard and turning animalistic. She also stops menstruating, a symptom she at first takes as suggesting pregnancy and an ultimate demonstration of the female body’s role at reproduction. Nevertheless, her upper body soon becomes too difficult to bear, and forces her to get down on all fours in order to move around. During the process, she and others consider her transformation to be developing towards womanliness before realizing that she is in fact becoming a pig instead. This allusion reveals the inherent fears and desires of women who stray away from social, cultural and political codes of feminine beauty, sexuality and reproduction. Many critics thus conclude that the narrator’s pig metamorphosis is a fable indicating her moral degradation.13 However, by confessing the transformation into a pig from a perplexed protagonist’s viewpoint, Darrieussecq reports her protagonist’s corruption as socially produced rather than self-afflicted. Throughout the text, the narrator’s tone remains sincere as she depicts her confusion and perplexity at her change and exile. She also expresses affection and passion when she describes her relationships with her lovers. Sallie Muirden reads the narrator’s degradation crisis as indicating that progressions from gender equality to sexual liberation continue to be caught in the web of patriarchal ideologies and politics still dominating society: “The narrator should be able to avoid or resist sexist exploitation, but her supposed feminist freedoms have been capitalised on and perverted by chauvinists, sexual predators and patriarchal ruling authorities” (238). In Darrieussecq’s near future France, her narrator’s situation appears to be no better off than the average middle-class women half a century before. Her text envisions this concern not only by characterizing society’s predatory exploitations of women and pigs as similar, but also by reproaching society’s banishment of deformed bodies in flux.


For the main characters of Sha Fu and Truismes, hybridity brings to light societal examples of human cruelty and intolerance of difference while also offering individual possibilities for subversive defiance. For the human societies in the texts, the protagonists’ hybrid states are considered as a downgrade to becoming meat products as opposed to being human subjects. Becoming half-pig is depicted as an externalization of women’s sufferings due to the abusive conventions of femininity, which after being physically exposed, further deprives them of their humanity in the public eye and increases their vulnerability to oppressive stigmatization.


Referring to Gill Rye and Michael Worton, Anat Pick mentions their remark that “The body as the locus of both oppression and transgression has become a major point of reference in recent French writing by women, which makes metamorphosis a useful device for exploring female corporeality and identity” (44). By exploring border crossing bodily transformations, definitions of female corporeality and identity are reconsidered and reconstructed. In the case of hybridity, some like Lidia Curti hold a more encouraging perspective and argue that freakish bodies can perform “a derisive counterpoint to stereotypes of the feminine” (107). Others like Shirley Jordon, Marion Gymnich and Alexandre Segão Costa read metamorphosis stories as exemplifying identity crises through tensions of being in-between categories and hence outside of normative identity definitions.14 For the female protagonists of Sha Fu and Truismes, becoming animal indicates becoming less of a woman. This Darwinian de-evolution represents a deprivation of political feminist progress while at the same time also exemplifies a shedding of the stereotypical baggage of the “woman” category. In Sha Fu, Lin Shi gradually loses the ability to distinguish reality from fantasy, a result of her increasing affinity with the pigs on the block. One day at the height of her hallucinations, she reverses her role and becomes the butcher who executes and devours a pig, which is her husband in reality. During her murder scene, Lin Shi constantly repeats her impressions that “she must be dreaming,” yet her ecstatic mutation of her husband a dream but real. The narrator sexualizes Lin Shi’s oppressor-oppressed power reversal by illustrating the murder scene with the fantastic fall of a phallic symbol: “The geysers of blood began to converge, and for a brief moment, what looked like a single blood red pillar penetrated the inky darkness. I must be dreaming. Lin Shi rubbed her eyes. Suddenly the convulsions started, crumbling the pillar, and sending its think blood splattering in all directions” (The Butcher’s Wife 138).15 Lin Shi’s hybrid performance of male-butcher and female-pig illustrates the ambivalence of her attempt at overthrowing patriarchy, a process which is carried out through violent self-destructive methods. Her animal-like state leads to her loss of cultured reason and her escape from the social domination of patriarchal hierarchies. However, at the same time, her metamorphosis also implies the loss of sanity and humanity. Her hybridity may have taken to extremes of non-conformity, yet her the loss of humanity remains an unacceptable taboo to her social community. The novella ends with Lin Shi’s neighbors gossiping over her condemnable actions. They blame her for blemishing the good name of women through her lack of feminine virtues such as morality, fidelity, silence and endurance. In Sha Fu, the pig remains a symbol of patriarchy’s licit victimization; hence, Lin Shi’s identity as the women/ pig fighting back becomes a threat to her community founded on traditional patriarchal orders of feminine morality. As for Truismes’s near-future society, the narrator’s hybridity leads to her alienation from human society but also brings her closer to obtaining natural enjoyments and finding love. She describes her relationship with her werewolf lover, Yvan, as founded on exciting passion and collaborative companionship. Their metamorphoses still connote sexual and gender stereotypes, such as their predator-prey sex scene and the fact that while werewolf Yvan aggressively murders pizza delivery boys, the narrator merely gobbles up the pizzas in a pig-like style.16 Additionally, in contrast to Yvan who remains in human form most of the time except during full moons, the narrator has become more sow than woman during most days. Nevertheless, Yvan is the only character who shows gentle compassion to the narrator, and his tragic death under the police gun eventually pushes the narrator further away from social interaction. In the end, the narrator describes her serenity as a pig living in nature. Yet, her cultural marginalization remains problematic due to her hybridity as both pig and human. The text ends with the following lines: “I try to do what Yvan taught me, but for the opposite reason: when I crane my neck toward the Moon, it’s to show, once again, a human face” (Pig Tales 151).17 Her harmonic state involves giving up both culture and humanity, a condition which remains in dilemma due to her hybridity as being both human and animal rather than just the latter. Her desire for humanity undermines assumptions that becoming or being animal constitute satisfactory solutions to patriarchal social oppressions. For the two novellas, extraordinary bodies destabalize rigid categorizations and offer new possibilities for the protagonists; however, transformations are still too destructive to allow for constructive reconstructions to be socially played out.


In both works, “becoming animal” is fantasized as a means of de-civilization as well as de-naturalization. The goal is not so much an essentialist return to nature, but an exposure and dismantling of “naturalized” patriarchal cultures in order to reconstruct identities of women and femininity in their complex hybridity as both natural and cultural. For the two pig-women tales, the transformation into a sow indicates women’s grotesque degradation into exploitable sexual merchandize of human civilization. The female protagonists are forced to bear cruelties of social intolerance and abuse, but their abnormal hybridity eventually provides alternative possibilities for escaping oppressive cultural confinements. Yet, deconstructive escape is not the final destination, but only the first step to invoking new diversities in the reconstruction and recreation of sex and gender identities. The practice of metamorphosizing women’s bodies experiments with the blurring of both natural and cultural boundaries. The goal is to complicate definitions of women that have been based on categorical exclusiveness and dualistic hierarchies. In Changing Difference, Catherine Malabou argues for a balance between essentialism and anti-essentialism in gender studies.18 She contends that

there are no grounds for a concept of essence, conceived of as substance, be it ontological or natural. Transformability is at work from the start, it trumps all determination. Everything starts with metamorphosis…[T]he schema of fluidity, of liquidity, of lips…help to think the impossibility of the philosophical place of women. The very possibility of the emergence of women as impossibility…We must open new paths, but we must not reject, in the name of radical “anti-essentialism,” the work that led to this insistence on the feminism. (139)

For Malabou, the name “women” should be considered as empty but resistant, being resistant precisely because empty.19 In regard to Sha Fu and Truismes, metamorphosis implies dehumanization, and serves to deconstruct the oppressive rigidity of human/ male defined boundaries through the hybrid female/ animal bodies’ impossibility for definition. By generating the fluid intermix of disparate divisions, hybridity’s impossibility of definition creates new possibilities for the interpretation and performance of women and the female body. Hierarchal laws of dualism and universalism do not dominate the realm of hybridity; rather, plasticity and diversity hold the foundations of this identity constructions and reconstructions, creating new possibilities/ impossibilities which continues to liberate as well as challenge the contemporary women’s state of being and becoming. For these late twentieth century literary works on women and animals, whereas hybridity has become the chief motor for new understandings of the female identity, the intricacy of constructing and performing a hybrid state of being still remains a demanding challenge for contemporary women.


Works Cited


Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1990. Print.

Curti, Lidia. Female Stories, Female Bodies: Narrative, Identity and Representation. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998. Print.

Darrieussecq, Marie. Truismes. Paris: P.O.L., 1996. Print.

---. Pig Tales: A Novel of Lust and Transformation. Trans. Linda Coverdale. New York: The New Press, 1997. Print.

Foucault, Michel. Histoire de la folie a l’age classique. Paris: Libraire Ploin Paris, 1961. Print.

Gymnich, Marion and Alexandre Segao Costsa. “Of Humans, Pigs, Fish, and Apes: The Literary Motif of Human-Animal Metamorphosis and its Multiple Functions in Contemporary Fiction.” L'Esprit Créateur 46.2 (2006): 68-88. Print.

Harel, Naama. “Challenging the Species Barrier in Metamorphosis Literature: The Case of Marie Darrieussecq’s Pig Tales.” Comparative Critical Studies 2. 3 (2005): 397–409. Print.

Huang, Xiao-Fen. Han Mu De Kao Gu Xue Yan Jiu 《漢墓的考古學硏究.》. Changsha: Yuelu Publishing House《岳麓書社.》, 2003. Print.

Jordan, Shirley. ‘Saying the Unsayable: Identities in Crisis in the Early Novels of Marie Darrieussecq’, in Women’s Writing in Contemporary France.” Women's writing in contemporary France: New Writers, New Literatures in the 1990s. Eds. Gill Rye and Michael Worton. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002. 142–153. Print.

Kim, Seung-Og. “Burials, Pigs, and Political Prestige in Neolithic China.” Current Anthropology 35.2 (1994): 119-141. Print.

Lantelme, Michel. “Darrieussecq’s Pig Tales: Marianne’s Misfortunes at the Turn of the Millennium.” The Romanic Review 90.4 (1999): 527–536. Print.

Li, Ang. Sha Fu《殺夫》. Taipei, Linking Books, 2009. Print.

---. The Butcher’s Wife. Trans. Howard Goldblatt and Ellen Yeung. London: Peter Owen Publishers, 2002. Print.

Malabou, Catherine. Changing Difference: The Feminine and the Question of Philosophy. Trans. Carolyn Shread. Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2011. Print.

Muirden, Sallie. “Magical Allegory in Marie Darrieussecq’s novel Pig Tales (1996): Piggy Debauchery in Postcolonial France.” COLLOQUY 16 (2008): 229-244. Print.

Pick, Anat. “Pigscripts: The Indignities of Species in Marie Darrieussecq’s Pig Tales.” Parallax 12, no.1 (2006): 43–56. Print.

Plumwood, Val. Feminism and the Mastery of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1993. Print.

Sandilands, Catriona. The Good Natured Feminist: Ecofeminism and the Quest for Democracy. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1999. Print.

Stager, Lawrence E. “The Impact of the Sea People (1185-1050 BCE).” The Archeology of Society in the Holy Land. Ed. Thomas E. Levy. London: Continuum, 2003. Print.

Stallybrass, Peter and Allon White. The Politics and Poetics of Transgression. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986. Print.

Vance, Linda. “Ecofeminism and the Politics of Reality.” Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, Nature. Ed. Greta Gaard. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993. 118-45. Print.

Warner, Marina. Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds: Ways of Telling the Self. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print.

Wu, Mei-Yun, ed. Hansheng zazhi 89-90《漢聲雜誌》(1996). Print.




Karen is a PhD Candidate of the Department of Comparative Literature at Indiana University--Bloomington, USA. Her primary research interests are 20th and 21st century East(Chinese)-West comparative studies of fiction and film, approached through theories of feminism, postmodernism, postcolonialism, and diasporic studies as well as questions of cultural/ national identity and transcultural/transnational practices.



1. See Foucault’s Histoire de la folie a l’age classique [Madness and Civilization: a history of insanity in the Age of Reason] (1961). By discussing madness in relation to animality, Foucault argued that during the Renaissance period, madmen were considered part beast and hence dangerously liberated, whereas during the seventeenth and eighteenth century, animality was determined as “anti-nature” because the order of nature involves a rational order, thus regarding madness to images of confinement.

2. Quotations from the two literary works are extracted from their published English translations. The original sources of the quotes are given as endnotes. 

3. See Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Butler proposes drag as a form of “subversive bodily act” which “subverts the distinction between inner and outer physic space and effectively mocks both the expressive model of gender and the notion of true gender identity” (137).

4. See Huang Xiao-Fen’s [黃曉芬] hanmu de kaoguxue yanjiu [漢墓的考古學硏究], p.224-250.

5. Original text: “喝醉酒的陳江水要履行作丈夫的義務,仍使得林市用竟用盡殘餘的精力,連聲慘叫。叫聲由於持續不斷,據鄰居說,人們聽伴隨在夜風咻咻聲中的林市乾嚎,恍惚還以為又是豬嚎呢!...陳江水到廳裡去來一大塊帶皮帶油的豬肉,往林市嘴裡塞,林市滿滿一嘴的嚼吃豬肉,嘰吱吱出聲,肥油還溢出嘴角,串串延滴到下顎、脖子處,油濕膩膩。這時,眼淚也才溢出眼眶,一滾到髮際,方式一陣寒涼”(82).

6. Original text: “damnée pour toujours…une fille perdue…une créature du diable…La marque de la Bête” (31).

7. Cultural symbolism between pigs and prostitutes has an ancient history in western tradition. Peter Stallybrass and Allon White have written that in “early records of Greek and Latin slang…porcus or porcellus were used to describe the female genitalia…In Attic Comedy the description of the female genitalia as pig is often an aggressive form of degradation or violence – prostitutes were called…pig merchants” (44-45).

8. Li’s novella is inspired by a Shanghai murder scandal during the Chinese Second Sino-Japanese War of the 1930s. What aroused her interest was the fact that the wife who dismembered her husband was not the typical adulteress but an unfortunate woman oppressed by society. In her reconfiguration, Li characterizes her novella as a work of feminism and relocates the story to her hometown in Lukang, Taiwan as a means of demonstrating her ambition to delve into gender issues of Taiwanese society as well as illustrating that these feminist concerns as cross-spatial and cross-temporal (Li v-xi).

9. Original text: “被壓的母親,阿母的那張臉,衰瘦臉上有著鮮明的紅艷顏色及貪婪的煥發神情。阿母嘴裡正啃著一個白飯糰,手上還抓著一團。已狠狠的塞滿白飯的嘴巴,隨著阿母唧唧哼哼的出聲,嚼過的白顏色米粒混著口水,滴淌滿半邊面頰,還順勢流到脖子及衣襟”(76-77).

10. See Lee Han-Wei’s Taiwan xiaoshuo de san zhong beiqing 台灣小說的三種悲情. Tainan: nanshi wenhua 南市文化, 1996.

11. Original text: “林市身上沒幾兩肉,卻能換得整斤整兩個豬肉,真福氣” (81).

12. Original text: “女性不僅是男人眼中的欲望客體,在生存與文化現實情境中的噤聲(失語)與禁口(饑餓),也讓林市母女成為承擔社會施虐的堪憐角色。事實上,不管是已跨越或不能逾越(性別階級),所有的女性都無法獲得悲劇的豁免權。在此意義觀照下,總結出的是鹿城婦女創傷生命的集體寫真” (8).

13. See Michel Lantelme’s “Darrieussecq’s Pig Tales: Marianne’s Misfortunes at the Turn of the Millennium” and Marina Warner’s Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds: Ways of Telling the Self, p.9.

14. See Shirley Jordan’s ‘Saying the Unsayable: Identities in Crisis in the Early Novels of Marie Darrieussecq” and Marion Gymnich and Alexandre Segão Costa’s “Of Humans, Pigs, Fish, and Apes: The Literary Motif of Human-Animal Metamorphosis and its Multiple Functions in Contemporary Fiction.”

15. Original text: 而那股上揚噴灑的血逐漸在凝聚、轉換,有霎時看似一截血紅的柱子,直插入一片墨色的漆黑中。大概是作夢了,林是揉揉眼睛。而後,突然間,伴隨一陣陣猛烈的抽動,那柱子轉為焦黑倒落,紛紛又化為農紅色的血四處飛灑” (192)

16. In “Challenging the Species Barrier in Metamorphosis Literature: The Case of Marie Darrieussecq’s Pig Tales,” Naama Harel comments that “in Pig Tales the relation between men and women is not just compared to the relation between predators and prey, but these two kinds of relations actually coexist together in one scene, and the metaphor is realized” (404).

17. Original text: “J’essaie de faire comme me l’avait montré Yvan, mais à rebrousse-poil de ses propres methods: moi c’est pour retrouver ma cambrure d’humain que je tends mon cou vers la Lune” (148-149).

18. Malabou is a French philosopher and a student of Derrida.

19. See the opening Note in Malabou’s Changing Difference.



Inquire: Journal of Comparative Literature

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