(Hetero)sexual Politics

(Hetero)sexual Politics

(Hetero)sexual Politics

(Hetero)sexual Politics

Synopsis

This shows the diversity and excitement of debates of sexuality in Women's Studies and feminism today, and points to new paths for feminist analysis, thinking and action. Heterosexuality can no longer be taken for granted and must be explicitly addressed.

Excerpt

The chapters collected together in this volume were initially given as papers at the annual conference we organized, on behalf of the Women's Studies Network (UK) Association, at the University of Portsmouth in July 1994. Although the main conference topic was 'Women's Studies in an International Context', it soon became clear that there was also a major sub-theme emerging from the various contributions on offer, one focusing on issues to do with sexuality and sexual politics. Now, of course, much has been written on these matters over the last twenty or so years. Feminists, in particular, have been responsible for politicizing the debate, demonstrating how something which is commonly regarded as a private and personal matter is, in fact, a public and a political issue. When the term 'politics' is related to that of the 'sexual' the implication is that relationships of power and the processes through which these are transmitted need to be part of any analysis. Not only are sexual experiences influenced and constrained by dynamics of power which are intrinsic to an immediate relationship itself, they are also affected by factors which lie outside of it. As Humm has noted, Kate Millett's choice of the term 'sexual politics' for the title of her pioneering book indicated that sexuality is not just some natural experience of women and men, but is 'socially constructed with political consequences' as well as being 'politically constructed with social consequences' (Humm, 1992, p. 260). Thus, sexuality has been regarded as an important area for discussion by feminists because it can be seen as one particular site of women's subordination.

Most accounts of the early theorizing and historical development of second-wave feminism appear to imply that a concern for sexuality is primarily a radical feminist preoccupation. It is certainly the case that for

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