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The Essential Ellen Willis$
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Ellen Willis and Nona Willis Aronowitz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780816681204

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816681204.001.0001

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Lust Horizons

Lust Horizons

Is the Women’s Movement Pro-Sex?

(p.200) Lust Horizons
The Essential Ellen Willis

Nona Willis Aronowitz

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines whether the women’s movement is pro-sex. To those who believe that an understanding of sexuality is crucial to a feminist analysis, what is especially disconcerting is that feminists are as confused, divided, and dogmatic about sex as everyone else. If feminist theory is to be truly based in the reality of women’s lives, feminists must examine their professed beliefs and feelings with as much skepticism as they apply to male pronouncements. Otherwise they risk simply replacing male prejudices and rationalizations with their own. In one form or another, sexual conservatism still permeates the feminist movement. Ethel Spector Person, a psychoanalyst, argues that sexual activity and orgasm are indispensable to men’s mental health, but not to women’s; specifically, men need sex to feel like men, while in women “gender identity and self-worth can be consolidated by other means.” This chapter considers the issue of sexuality within the context of feminism by focusing on two anthologies: Women—Sex and Sexuality and Heresies.

Keywords:   women’s movement, sexuality, sex, women, sexual conservatism, Ethel Spector Person, orgasm, feminism, Women—Sex and Sexuality, Heresies

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