bell hooks on sexuality

Sam Pawlett epawlett at
Sun Dec 27 12:52:51 PST 1998

"Frances Bolton (PHI)" wrote:

> On Sat, 26 Dec 1998, Sam Pawlett wrote:
> > This long quote comes from bell hooks_Feminist Theory_ SouthEnd
> > 1984,p149ff. A very insightful book written before Ms. Hooks wandered
> > off into the mists and bogs of the various post-isms.
> >
> > " However, this is not a culture that affirms real sexual freedom...The
> > focus on "sexual liberation" has carried with it the assumption that the
> > goal of such effort is to make it possible for individuals to engage in
> > more and/or better sexual activity. Yet one aspect of sexual norms that
> > many people find oppressive is the assumption that one "should" be
> > engaged in sexual activity. This "should" is one expression of sexual
> > coercion. (SNIP))
> Sam, I'm curious as to why you were quoting this... In the early 70s there

I thought it was a unique and interesting position.It may be that hooks is rehashing old arguments. I wouldn't know.

> was a group of femisit theorists, all heterosexual, I believe, who argued
> that het women should be celibate because there was no way to have an

But hooks is not arguing that women and men should be celibate.Far from it.Besides being contrary to our genetic endowments, arguing for celibacy is nutty from both a theoretical and practical standpoint. Dropping out of capitalist society or any aspect of it accomplishes nothing. The world will continue in the same way it did before, it will just continue without you. Might as well argue for extinction of the human race. There is only one writer I know of who advocated this position:Philip Mainlander
>From the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. P.Edwards.6-119.
"Philip Mainlander(1841-76) held that the will to annihilation is included in the nature of every individual being, inorganic as well as organic and that the ethics of the individual is egotistic and implies virginity and suicide as a means of world salvation( i.e. annihilation) " It should be noted that after Mainlander finished his 2 volume work _Philosophie der Erlosung_ he committed suicide. Not a happy camper.

> equitable sexual relationship with a man. Hooks' point here is a pretty
> old one--Dana Densmore wrote a similar thing in the early 70s. Quote:
> "Sex is everywhere. It's forced down our throats. It's the great sop that
> keeps us in our place. The big lift that makes our dreary worlds
> interesting." I'm quoting her from Mary Daly's *Beyond God the
> Father*. THe paper, "Freedom from the Sexual Revolution" was published in
> *Notes from the Third Year: Women's Liberation* as well as *Radical
> Feminism*. Densmore worked for NASA in the mid sixties and was
> a part of Cell 16 or the Redstockings, not sure which--I think the former
> (bothwere early 70s radical feminist groups). She also opened the first
> woman-run martial arts studio in the US and wrote a brilliant book on
> Newton's *Principia*.

hooks is attacking the homo/hetero binary. One should not be forced to choose between them. She believes( in this book at least) that eliminating this binary would help eliminate all stigma surrounding (consensual) sexual relations. The upshot would be a society less obsessed with what the president is doing vis-a-vis sex and ,perhaps, more concerned with his policies. Thanks for the references.

Sam Pawlett.

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