Every once in a while I like to go to my university’s “sexuality” area, which coincidentally is the poorest lit area of the library. I admit it, I’m kind of a nerd for this stuff. I like looking at sex from an intellectual stand-point, and my intellect is fiercely feminist, so I usually do end up reading books like Remaking Love, a feminist analysis of female gains in the sexual revolution.
The book was written in 1986, so there are obviously some things that make it dated in the field of feminist research, namely that it assumes white, heterosexual women as the female norm, making it feel a little incomplete. But, besides that, it’s interesting in a sort of snap-shot sort of way, and gives historical perspective as to what we would now call sex-positive feminists were writing about sex in the 80s. It also gives insight to the dramatic changes in attitudes on and practice of female sexuality, from the original sexual conservatism of the 1950s to the newer, backlash-fueled conservatism of the 80s with modern fears of promiscuity and HIV.
Although it’s dated, the overall message of the book is still relevant: male sexuality didn’t change all that much in the 20th century, but female sexuality did a whole lot. I’d be interested in a more recent take on this subject, especially dealing with the question of the stagnancy of male sexuality. The feminization of sex here is more the appearance of female voices in the sexual conversation (as a result of the demystification of the conversation in the first place), but sex as a whole remains unchanged for most men, except for maybe the minor inconvenience of gender equity in the bedroom. I’d argue that the next sexual revolution should be a re-imagining of what heterosexual male sexuality can be, in order to turn it into something less socially toxic. A truer feminization, perhaps.
Until then, I’m grateful to live in a post-sexual revolution world where women at least have some agency in their sexual lives. This wasn’t something my mother’s generation always had and it’s definitely something my grandmother’s generation went without. This book is a good reminder of that, as well as a reminder that conservatism comes in waves, and progress is ongoing.
Book Challenge Progress: 2/70
Currently Reading: Still working on Wuthering Heights.