Sex Is Not a Natural Act and Other Essays

By Leonore Tiefer | Go to book overview

fantasy and female experimentation (not to mention employment) began to be seen by some feminists as the representation, and then even the cause, of sexual oppression against women. Despite the fact that many feminists continue to support explicit sexual imagery as offering more positive opportunity than harm for women ( Ellis et al., 1988; Russ, 1985; Burstyn, 1985; Valverde, 1989), the public usually hears only the voices of feminists fighting pornography. The length of time female sexual freedom and pleasure were the main topic was brief as compared with the emphasis on victimization, danger, and repression. There has also been much attention to the international aspects of sexual victimization. Some feminists emphasize the need for greater prostitutes' rights and less stigmatization, whereas others militate for further action against "sex workers."

It is no surprise and far from a hopeless situation that there are disputes among feminists regarding the causes of sexual oppression and conflicts regarding strategy for overcoming oppression. When was there ever a revolution without factions? In the long run, the success of the revolution to change women's sexual lives probably depends less on whether feminists are unified in their analyses than on how well feminists can respond to larger sociocultural developments.


Condusion

There are many ways to be part of the feminist revolution; it is not monolithic. Whether the minimizers or the maximizers are ascendant at any particular time is important, but feminists must not lose sight of the practical fact that the movement is about ideas only insofar as they can improve women's material and social conditions. Movements for reform threaten to become movements of professionals who lecture to each other while real people's real lives are not improved. Those of us interested in feminism and sexuality must conscientiously monitor how our work improves the quality of life that women enjoy. As our world continues to shrink and societies become more pluralistic, the task will require broader levels of feminist analysis, but most of all the ability to take the time, sit down, and really listen to what women have to say.

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