Home Kate Millett "Sexual Politics"
"Sexual Politics" by Darian Ramirez
Politics” is a book by Kate Millet that was published in 1970. It is
considered as one of the most important works in the struggle for women
liberation. When it was first published, it provoked a wave of irritation among
the defenders of male domination and patriarchy. Nevertheless, the defenders of
women rights praised the book. In 1968, Millet wrote an essay that later became
the second chapter. In the essay she explained:
“ Is it possible to regard the relation of the sexes in a political light at all? It depends on how one defines politics. I do not define the political area here as that narrow and exclusive sector known as institutional or official politics of the Democrat or Republican – we have all reason to be tired and suspicious of them. By politics I mean power structured relationships, the entire arrangement whereby one group of people is governed by another, one group is dominant and the other subordinate.”
Throughout the different chapters of the book, Millet discusses the dynamics in sexual relations that and the impact that patriarchy has over them. She analyzes works from Norman Mailer, Henry Miller and D. H. Lawrence and explains how their opinion about sex is sexist and patriarchal. She also suggest a meaningful analysis of different works from different authors that are relevant to the subject of sexual relations. According to the University of Illinois Press:
“Sexual Politics laid the foundation for subsequent feminist
scholarship by showing how
cultural discourse reflects a systematized subjugation and
exploitation of women.
Identifying patriarchy as a socially conditioned belief system
masquerading as nature,
Millett demonstrates in detail how its
attitudes and systems penetrate literature,
philosophy, psychology, and politics”
Those who praised the book, admired its theoretical value for the women liberation movement of the 70's. A few decades later, we can also praise the literary criticism found within its pages. In fact, there were no major feminist works that criticized literature before Millett published Sexual Politics. Being the first of its kind, the book was disliked by many critics who thought the style in which it was written had nothing to do with academic literary criticism. Such a work cannot be praised unanimously, but the essence of the book is still very relevant in the fight against the oppressing patriarchal system. As Millet herself pointed out:
“It is time we developed a more cogent and relevant psychology and philosophy of power relationships not yet considered in out institutional politics. It is time we gave attention to defining a theory of politics which treats of power relationships on the less formal than establishmentarian grounds of personal intercourse between members of well defined and coherent groups – races, castes, classes and sexes. It is precisely because such groups have no representation in formal political structures that their oppression is so entire and so continuous.”
Ticineto, Patricia, Kate Millet. “The Hybrid Criticism of Patriarchy:
Rereading Kate Millett's "Sexual
35.3 (1994) : 473-486.