Penile Imperialism: The Male Sex Right and Women’s Subordination
In this blisteringly persuasive and piercingly intelligent book, Sheila Jeffreys argues that women live under penile imperialism, a regime in which men are assumed to have a ‘sex right’ of access to the bodies of women and girls.
She reasons that the ‘sexual revolution’ that began in the 1960s unleashed an explicit male sexual liberation and that even now, under current laws and cultural mores, women do not have the right to self-determination in relation to their bodies.
Sheila Jeffreys argues that the exercise of the male sex right has mainstreamed misogynist attitudes and so-called sexual freedom has meant the freedom of men to use women and children with impunity.
The power dynamics of sex, rather than being eliminated, has been eroticised, supported by state regulations and structures that have further entrenched male domination. And while men’s sexual fetishisms such as BDSM and transvestism have been normalised, women now have to fight as their spaces are being erased and their voices silenced in a faux inclusivity that has ‘naturalised’ sexual harassment.
Sheila Jeffreys contends that women’s human rights are profoundly harmed and sexual violence is used more than ever to enforce social control of women.
This is a sobering and brilliant analysis of the modern predicament of women that is impossible to ignore.
Sheila Jeffreys is a reliable font of sickening but essential knowledge, and with Penile Imperialism, she floods the trough.
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- feminism, feminist theory
Sheila Jeffreys is a radical feminist activist who has worked mainly against male violence and for lesbian feminism.