[T]he parade of horrors demonstrating the systematic victimization of women often produces the criticism that for me to say women are victimized reinforces the stereotype that women “are” victims, which in turn contributes to their victimization. If this stereotype is a stereotype, it has already been accomplished, and I come after. To those who think “it isn’t good for women to think of themselves as victims,” and thus seek to deny the reality of their victimization, how can it be good for women to deny what is happening to them? Since when is politics therapy?
Coitus can scarcely be said to take place in a vacuum; although of itself it appears a biological and physical activity, it is set so deeply within the larger context of human affairs that it serves as a charged microcosm of the variety of attitudes and values to which culture subscribes. Among other things, it may serve as a model of sexual politics on an individual or personal plane.
[…] monogamy does not by any means make its appearance in history as the reconciliation of man and woman, still less as the highest form of such a reconciliation. On the contrary, it appears as the subjection of one sex by the other, as the proclamation of a conflict between the sexes entirely unknown hitherto prehistoric times.
In an old unpublished manuscript, the work of Marx and myself in 1846, I find the following: ‘The first division of labor is that between man and woman for child breeding.’ And today I can add: The first class antagonism which appears in history coincides with the development of the antagonism between man and woman in monogamous marriage, and the first class oppression with that of the female sex by the male.
Monogamy was a great historical advance, but at the same time it inaugurated, along with slavery and private wealth, that epoch, lasting until today, in which every advance is likewise a relative regression, in which the well-being and development of the one group are attained by the misery and repression of the other. It is the cellular form of civilized society, in which we can already study the nature of the antagonisms and contradictions which develop fully in the latter.
We are confronted with a series of forms of the family which directly contradict the forms hitherto generally accepted as being the only ones prevailing. The traditional conception knows monogamy only, along with polygamy on the part of individual men, and even, perhaps, polyandry on the part of individual women, and hushes up the fact—as is the way with moralizing philistines—that in practice these bounds imposed by official society are silently but unblushingly transgressed.
[…] pornography as a regulatory category was invented in response to the perceived menace of the democratization of culture. […] It was only when print culture opened the possibility of the masses gaining access to writing and pictures that pornography began to emerge as a separate genre of representation.
Men feel the contours of a box, too, but they are told that box is of their own manufacture, designed to their specifications. Who are they to complain? The box is there to showcase the man, not to confine him. After all, didn’t he build it—and can’t he destroy it if he pleases, if he is a man? For men to say they feel boxed in is regarded not as laudable political protest but as childish and indecent whining. How dare the kings complain about their castles?
I do not want [to see you] pursue your feminism to the extreme of wishing to convert yourselves into men; that is not what we desire; [for] then all life’s enchantment would be lost. No; let men fight over political questions, [let them] form laws; you ought to fight the good fight, that of feeling, and form souls, which is better than forming laws.
Sexual services in postindustrial settings were “diffuse and expansive rather than delimited and expedient”, including not just sexual intercourse resulting in sexual release but back rubs, talking, and therapy. Hence, the sex work transaction was measured in terms of time rather than specific acts, and involved emotions, eroticism, and deep acting. Yet the sex work transaction was effectively a market exchange with an emotional boundary between worker and customer, which was temporarily subordinated to the customer’s desire for authentic interpersonal connection, so that freebies or unpaid sexual transactions put off customers.