DEBATING SEXUAL CORRECTNESS by Adele M. Stan

DEBATING SEXUAL CORRECTNESS

Pornography, Sexual Harassment, Date Rape, and the Politics of Sexual Equality
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A wide-ranging, thought-provoking collection of writings on pornography, sexual harassment, rape, and feminism. The Newsweek-inspired title, which undersells this diverse collection, clearly piggybacks on Dell's successful 1992 title Debating PC. But it is simplistic to lump the feminist enemies of porn, rape, and sexual harassment together as advocates of some unified, prim ``correctness.'' Stan, a freelance journalist and former assistant editor at Ms., has compiled a range of essays from the debates of the '80s and '90s, most of which have been published before in periodicals ranging from Ladies' Home Journal to the Village Voice. She includes the predictable voices, like Katie Roiphe, Catharine MacKinnon, Camille Paglia, and Andrea Dworkin. There are also men: George Will, Yale law professor Stephen Carter, and New Yorker editor Hendrik Hertzberg. But the more interesting selections are those by lesser-known writers. Libertarian journalist Ellen Willis and porn editor Lisa Palac offer similarly thoughtul perspectives on women's right to enjoy and produce pornography. Film critic Amy Taubin and novelist Mary Gaitskill examine their feelings about sex and sexual violence in their own lives (both have been raped and had more ambiguous violent experiences in relationships)--ambivalent feelings that have no easy ideological conclusion. African-American author Rosemary Bray discusses the pain of black women watching Anita Hill testify at Clarence Thomas's Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Lindsey Van Gelder brings to life the bizarre circus of the Meese Commission on Pornography, where family-values Christians had to listen to uncompromising radical feminist Andrea Dworkin testify--for their side. Disturbingly, there are no explicitly gay and lesbian perspectives; it is a loss that pro-sex lesbian writers like Susie Bright and Pat Califia, who have inspired several of the other writers in the collection, are not included. Despite serious gaps, those who haven't followed the debates will find this an engrossing introduction to late 20th century sexual politics, and those who have will likely discover some new voices.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-385-31384-5
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Delta
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1995




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