Sexual Politics – Kate Millett (1970)

Sexual Politics is a 1970 book by Kate Millett, based on her PhD dissertation. The book is regarded as a classic of feminism and one of radical feminism‘s key texts. Millett argues that ‘sex has a frequently neglected political aspect’ and goes on to discuss the role that patriarchy plays in sexual relations, looking especially at the works of D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, and Norman Mailer. Millett argues that these authors view and discuss sex in a patriarchal and sexist way. In contrast, she applauds the more nuanced gender politics of homosexual writer Jean Genet. Other writers discussed at length include Sigmund Freud, George Meredith, John Ruskin, and John Stuart Mill. Sexual Politics was largely influenced by Simone De Beauvoir‘s 1949 book The Second Sex, although De Beauvoir’s text is known for being more intellectually-focused and less emotionally invigorating than Millett’s text. Sexual Politics has been seen as a classic feminist text, said to be ‘the first book of academic feminist literary criticism’, and ‘one of the first feminist books of this decade to raise nationwide male ire’, though like Betty Friedan‘s The Feminine Mystique (1963) and Germaine Greer‘s The Female Eunuch (1970), its status has declined. Sexual Politics was an important theoretical touchstone for the second wave feminism of the 1970s. It was also extremely controversial. Norman Mailer, whose work, especially his novel An American Dream (1965), had been criticised by Millett, wrote the article ‘The Prisoner of Sex’ in Harper’s Magazine in response, attacking Millett’s claims and defending Miller and Lawrence, and later extensively attacked her writings in his non-fiction book of the same name. The psychoanalyst Juliet Mitchell argues that Millett, like many other feminists, misreads Freud and misunderstands the implications of psychoanalytic theory for feminism. …”
W – Kate Millett
NYBooks – Kate Millett: ‘Sexual Politics’ & Family Values
New Republic: The Courageous Radicalism of Kate Millett
New Yorker: “Sexual Politics” and the Feminist Work That Remains Undone
Jacobin: Kate Millett (1934–2017)
amazon: Kate Millett

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