Feminism and the struggle over meaning

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Abstract
In this paper I take issue with the hegemony of one prevalent definition of feminism, in terms of “equality”/“difference”, and suggest that there is another account which rarely appears in the academic feminist literature, namely, feminism as the struggle against male domination. I argue that the feminist project since the late 1960s has crucially revolved around a critique of sexuality as central to women’s oppression, a critique which focused in large measure on pornography as the most extreme and blatant expression of what sexuality means in male supremacist terms. I point out that this radical feminist critique has from the beginning been under siege by a libertarianism which will brook no criticism of sexuality at all, and that, as a consequence, the links between sexuality and male domination have not been made. I suggest that the linking term is the penis and its significance as the symbol of “human” status within the social order of male supremacy.
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Thompson, Denise
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1998
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Working Paper
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