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Sexual Politics

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  2,210 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
Identifying patriarchy as a socially conditioned belief system masquerading as nature, the author demonstrates how its attitudes and systems penetrate literature, philosophy, psychology, and politics. Her work rocked the foundations of the literary canon by castigating time-honored classics for their use of sex to degrade women.
Paperback, 424 pages
Published March 8th 2000 by University of Illinois Press (first published 1969)
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Paul Bryant
Dec 03, 2014 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
Shelves: litcrit


(note - this is the British version of DANCING WITH THE NOVELISTS)

Tess Daley (blondly) : And here, dancing the American smooth with his partner Ola Jordan,

is Count Leo Tolstoy.

(Music : From Russia with Love. The couple cavort.)

Sir Bruce (as the couple shimmies from the dance floor) : Well done, well done Leo. I'm glad you were able to finish your dance in less than 700 pages. (Mild titters from audience.) Come on, I thought it was better than that.
Jun 21, 2007 Marissa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminist, non-fiction
Everyone always says that this book founded feminist literary studies even though OBVIOUSLY Simone De Beauvoir was the real founder with her essays on several of the same authors in Second Sex. I know it's not as fun to think so though since she founded EVERYTHING else already. However, Sexual Politics is mind-blowingly brilliant. One of the few literary theory books which leaves you analyzing the patterns of your own life and recognizing underlying structures you instictively knew, but could no ...more
Aug 17, 2011 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An eyeopener. Moving, so scanning in some books. My favorite ones. After reading this, I swore off Mailer and H. Miller forever. Met Kate later, when she was making art in a studio in the East Village. My idea of an artistic rebel.
We all know how easy it is to look back and criticize. It is very easy, but to do it eloquently, lucidly, and with the goal of creating a measuring stick for sexual politics is a feat to celebrate, not to mention that it is admirable, interesting and worth discussing.
I mean really, using literature as a barometer for the sexual-political climate of the times? What's not to enjoy? Yes, she indulges in close reading, but she does not go overboard and indulge tangents, whims or stray metaphors.
Manik Sukoco
Sep 07, 2016 Manik Sukoco rated it really liked it
Published in 1970, Sexual Politics was the first academic take on feminist literary criticism. The book was based on Millett's PhD dissertation, in which she dissected the work of D. H. Lawrence, Norman Mailer, and Henry Miller, among others. Millett pointed out how the three authors wrote about women in a sexist way. The book added fuel to the second wave of feminism, which had started in the early 60s. The book was controversial, receiving national attention and a strong backlash from men. It ...more
The founding text, or opening salvo, of feminist literary criticism. It's kind of odd to think that forty years ago, this critique of modern authors' blithe (and often quite funny) gender assumptions was new; today it's the universal property of well-read college humanities majors, even if they've never heard of Kate Millett. But it's still a great read.
Ryan Mishap
Oct 05, 2008 Ryan Mishap rated it really liked it
Wonderful 1970 classic breakdown of male domination through an examination of literature: Mailer, Miller, Freud, Hardy, and more. Essential as an early feminist literary criticism piece correlating the stories that get told and the effects in the real world.
Christine Blackthorn
Feb 19, 2014 Christine Blackthorn rated it it was amazing
It is a book that has started the second wave (or third depending which academic you follow) of feminism and as such it has already historical value. It is a fascinating read, even today.
Tara Calaby
There is always something so depressing about reading key feminist texts from more than four decades ago and realising that we're still dealing with the same old crap. That said, being angered is good, because it expands your mind and your opinions and makes you see things in a clearer light.

I think the main difficulty of this book is that it combines literary commentary with strong feminist theory, meaning that much of the literary content will be of little interest to those reading solely for
Feb 18, 2012 Bri rated it liked it
The misogyny she examines was too much for me to finish the last few chapters. A feminist must-read.
Mar 02, 2008 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a key feminist work, and encourages one to just think of the world through a different lens.
Mara Eastern
Nov 21, 2015 Mara Eastern rated it really liked it
Shelves: women
An enlightening overview of the history of women's rights accompanied by an analysis of literary representations of women by male writers.
Dec 30, 2015 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Holy shit, this book was better than I could ever imagine. Kate Millett is a badass super genius.
Louise Colette
Apr 23, 2008 Louise Colette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-s-studies
If steam isn't coming out of your ears after reading this one, there's no hope for you.
Elizabeth Urello
May 22, 2016 Elizabeth Urello rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Most of the Ye Olde Feminist Texts that I read are still entirely relevant in today’s more enlightened times, which is probably the most depressing thing about reading them. We have not gained as much ground as we like to think that we have! We are still fighting a lot of the exact same battles! In fact, in many areas, we are fighting them OVER AGAIN having seemingly won them in the past. Equal rights for women proceed like waves crashing on society’s shore — they just touch and then the underto ...more
An essential book on feminism. Millet's voice is calm and strong, her ideas and criticism well-supported, her writing tidy and neat. This is the best feminist writing I have read so far, both in tone and in form.
She is not trapped in the idea to write it all about woman-history-culture. She chooses a point of view and focuses on it, works on it.

She studies the first wave feminism, sexual revolution in the second half of 19th century. She closely focuses on the post-WWI counter-revolution, (beaut
Jul 07, 2016 KennyO rated it really liked it
Deeply scholarly writing that exposed to view aspects our culture that had been well masked where they weren't wholly integrated. This was one truly pot-stirring book when published and it offered the basis for a lot of the change we've had since. Just the same, I'll wager that much of what Millett wrote remains current in the USA.

It isn't a casual read so I'll recommend taking something else on vacation.
Only read about 100 pages of it: don't tell my professor. Seemed like one of those books one should probably read but is just a beast to get through (especially if you're forced to read it over 3 days). My rating isn't really fair, disregard it.

First time I've ever not finished a book for class. I feel like that is an accomplishment of some sort.
May 21, 2015 Nalim rated it it was amazing
"Identifying patriarchy as a socially conditioned belief system masquerading as nature, Kate Millett demonstrates how its attitudes and systems penetrate literature, philosophy, psychology, and politics. Kate Millett's work rocked the foundations of the literary canon by castigating time-honored classics for their use of sex to degrade women."
Chelsea Wells cooper
Jun 07, 2016 Chelsea Wells cooper rated it really liked it
The literary analyses at the beginning and end include some selections that were difficult to read (meaning it was unpleasant because it disgusted me), but I absolutely see why she chose to discuss those excerpts. I found the middle section fascinating, where she discusses the onset of patriarchy. I am only beginning to read feminist literature, and this book was a great way to get my feet wet.
I read it because everyone was reading it, although I remember even then having trouble grappling with all of Millett's views and the density of her prose. She was anti-Freud before that was fashionable (or made fashionable by men), and if that was the only idea I got out of the book, it was a good thing.
Janet Simons
Feb 09, 2016 Janet Simons rated it did not like it
I read this many years ago. It is one of the worst written books I have ever encountered. It did teach me one important lesson: don't waste time and energy on a poorly-written book.
Jun 09, 2016 Joe rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
An interesting, if outdated, look at the role of patriarchy and power-structured relationships in the context of sex and gender.
Sep 15, 2014 Kristin rated it liked it
An important touchstone text in feminist literary criticism. Sets up central terms that helped define a school of thought.
Ceren Ataş
Jan 02, 2014 Ceren Ataş rated it it was amazing
Kitabı bana hediye eden dostumun ilk sayfaya bıraktığı not özettir: "Birçok kez öteki idik, en çok kadın kere ötekilendik."
Elaine Searle
Oct 30, 2015 Elaine Searle rated it it was amazing
I read this book some time ago and it was life changing in how it showed how many men regard women and how women are depicted in fiction. Recommended that every young woman should read this.
Ingrid rated it liked it
Mar 08, 2012
Martha Graham-Waldon
Martha Graham-Waldon rated it really liked it
Jan 14, 2015
Pauls Lot
Pauls Lot rated it it was amazing
Nov 18, 2013
Ciaran Griffin
Ciaran Griffin rated it it was ok
Apr 02, 2011
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sexual politics 1 18 Dec 18, 2007 06:46AM  
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  • The Spinster and Her Enemies: Feminism and Sexuality 1880-1930
  • Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967-1975
  • How to Suppress Women's Writing
  • The Female Eunuch
  • The Creation of Patriarchy
  • Bitches, Bimbos, and Ballbreakers: The Guerrilla Girls' Illustrated Guide to Female Stereotypes
  • Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings
  • Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body
Katherine Murray "Kate" Millett (born September 14, 1934) is an American feminist writer, educator, artist, and activist. She attended Oxford University and was the first American woman to be awarded a postgraduate degree with first-class honors by St. Hilda's. She has been described as "a seminal influence on second-wave feminism", and is best known for her 1970 book Sexual Politics,"[1] which wa ...more
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“Patriarchy, reformed or unreformed, is patriarchy still: its worst abuses purged or foresworn, it might actually be more stable and secure than before.” 9 likes
“It is necessary to realize that the most sacrosanct article of sexual politics in the period, the Victorian doctrine of chivalrous protection and its familiar protestations of respect, rests upon the tacit assumption, a cleverly expeditious bit of humbug, that all women were "ladies"—namely members of that fraction of the upper classes and bourgeoisie which treated women to expressions of elaborate concern, while permitting them no legal or personal freedom. The psycho-political tacit here is a pretense that the indolence and luxury of the upper-class woman’s role in what Veblen called “vicarious consumption” was the happy lot of all women. The efficacy of this maneuver depends on dividing women by class and persuading the privileged that they live in an indulgence they scarcely deserve... To succeed, both the sexual revolution and the Woman's Movement which led it would have to unmask chivalry and expose its courtesies as subtle manipulation.” 3 likes
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