Agents or victims, liberated or oppressed, "bad girls" or "good girls." What do these labels mean and do they further or hinder women's progress? How are today's visions of female sexuality and power like or unlike those of the past? How do younger women define feminism? Isn't the personal still political?
Dismayed by the media's tendency to reduce the feminist enterprise to labels and superstars, Donna Perry and Nan Bauer Maglin decided to find out what a diverse group of feminists think about women, sex, and power in the nineties. The result is a provocative and varied collection of twenty-four essays by second- and third-wave feminists; artists and activists; professors and graduate students; professional journalists and just-published writers; mothers and daughters. By focusing on society's construction, containment, and exploitation of female sexuality, in particular, these essays offer fresh perspectives on women's agency or lack of it.
The contributors focus on the oversimplifications and false dichotomies in current discussions of female sexuality, as well as the privileged perspective and individualism that currently dominate the popularized feminist message. Individual writers--including Emma Amos, bell hooks, Ann Jones, Lisa Jones, Paula Kamen, Matuschka, Marge Piercy, Katha Pollitt, Anna Quindlen, Elayne Rapping, Lillian S. Robinson, and Ellen Willis--reexamine women's empowerment in the light of issues like AIDS, battering, acquaintance rape, narratives of childhood sexual abuse, and pornography. Several draw political conclusions from their personal struggles, while others read stories and texts--from history, the art world, the media, popular culture, and social science research--in new and controversial ways.