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Politics Radical Theory

Love and Politics: Radical Feminist and Lesbian Theories

Love and Politics: Radical Feminist
and Lesbian Theories
Carol Anne DouglasPergamon Press1988

Critical survey of radical and lesbian feminist ideas from the 1960s through the 1980s. Carol Anne Douglas examines diverse theories on the roots of male domination; love and sexuality; lesbianism and friendship between women; lesbian separatism; sadomasochism; strategy and tactics for women’s liberation – and more.

Douglas probes the divergent roots of radical feminist theory. She then glides her analytic lens to examine diverse currents in radical feminist practice. While some radical feminists emphasize confronting the enemy (patriarchy and/or capitalism), others emphasize building alternative women’s communities to achieve radical feminist goals in the here and now. Douglas observes:

In the early and mid 1970s, there was a turn by radical and lesbian feminists not only from working for legislated reforms but also from any sort of demonstrations or direct confrontation with the male power structure… Creating independent projects – whether these were publications, bookstores, restaurants, record companies, credit unions or rape crisis centers – was seen by many as a more productive way of opposing the system. Creating an alternative system was seen as more radical than directly confronting the power structure. The alternative strategy is derived from the 1960s counterculture, but also ultimately from anarchist and utopian socialist principles.

Some radical feminists saw the turn to establishing alternatives as a diversion from radicalism and as triumph for liberals. However, even these feminists saw the need for an alternative press…

Carol Anne Douglas

Douglas draws on her vast knowledge of radical feminist writings and practical experience in women’s movements to bring clarity to the radical feminist currents and cross-currents since the 1970s.

Table of Contents

Part One: What is Radical Feminism?
1. Defining Ourselves
… Psychological Analysis
… Class and Race
… Is Feminism for All Women?
… Methods in Feminist Theory
… Diverse Theories

2. The Sources of Feminist Theory
… African-American movements
… Existentialism, Anarchism, Marxism
… Simone de Beauvoir’s Existentialism
… Anarchism and Feminism
… Marxism and Radical Feminism
… Theory Under Fire

Part Two: The Origins of Male Dominance
3. Against Gender
… Simone de Beauvoir: Amiguous Cause
… Shulamith Firestone: Origins of ‘Otherness’
… Differences Not Innate
… Ti-Grace Atkinson: Male Behavior is the Enemy
… Female Culture
… Early Mary Daly and Andrea Dworkin

4. Male Biology as a Problem
… Elizabeth Gould Davis: Males as Mutants
… Jill Johnston: Separate Species
… SCUM: Man, the Incomplete Female
… Man: The Violent Ape
… Away from Androgyny
… Androgen and Aggression
… Susan Cavin: Too Many Men
… Woman the Natural
… Mary Daly: More on Sex Difference

5. Men and Women: Same Species
… Cultural Doesn’t Mean Biological
… Biology as Creativity
… Original Harmony
… Woman: A Bargain Commodity
… Woman the Artifice
… Beauvoir and Scarcity
… The Biological and the Social Interact
… History: Cycle or Progress?
… Can the Oppressed Oppress?

Part Three: Love, Sex, and Sexuality in Radical Feminist Politics
6. Love: Can it be Good?
… Beauvoir: From Flawed to Authentic Love
… Beauvoir: Institution of Intercourse
… Firestone: Men Can’t Love
… Atkinson: Love is for Victims
… Pro-Love Radical Feminists
… Only Lesbians Can Love
… Love as a Political Bond, or as Friendship
… The Maternal Model

7. Sex: Will it Exist After the Revolution?
… Intercourse is for Men
… Sex Drive to Disappear – Celibacy as an Option

8. Lesbianism as a Politics
… Negative Perceptions of Lesbianism
… Atkinson on Lesbianism
… Lesbian Self-Definition
… The Lesbian: Woman Prime or Beyond Woman – Criticism of ‘Lesbian Superiority’

9. The Critique of Heterosexuality
… Lesbian Critiques
… Rejecting the Male Model
… Anger at Heterosexual Women
… Heterosexuality as Compulsory
… Lesbian Invisibility
… Conscious Choice
… Heterosexual Feminists React
… Changing Sexuality
… Feminists of Color on Sexuality
… The Critique Continues

10. Realignment in Feminist Sexual Politics
… Butch/Femme Relations
… Sadomasochism
… The Sexual Libertarian Position
… Sexy Roles
… Pornography
… Response to the Sexual Libertarian Argument

11. Love and Freedom
… Love, Sex Still Problems
… Asking How to Love Well
… Female Friendship

Part Four: Goals, Strategies and Tactics: A Radical Feminist Weakness?
12. What is the Goal, Anyway?
… Beauvoir: Independence
… Self-Determination and Integration
… Atkinson: Self-Justifying Life
… Women’s Rule
… Lesbians for Self-Determination
… Ending the Class
… Integrative Feminism

13. Strategies and Tactics: Taking Power?
… Feminist Concepts of Power
… What is ‘Reform’?
Alternatives, Not Confrontation
… Do Some Tactics Reinforce Male Dominance?
… What About Organizing? Downplaying Confrontation
… The Danger of Male-Defined Politics
… Strategically-Minded Feminists
… Ti-Grace Atkinson
… Rita Mae Brown on Activism
… Changing Sex Ratios as a Strategy
… Nurturing as Strategy and Goal

14. Separatism: When and How Long?
… Temporary Separatism
… Lesbian Views on Separatism
… Criticisms of Separatism
… Barbara and Beverly Smith on Separatism
… Bernice Johnson Reagon: ‘There is No Hiding Place…”
… Continuing Reaffirmation of Separatism
… Successive Waves of Separatists
… The Separatists’ Anti-Critique
… Janice Raymond’s Synthesis
… Coalitions
… Both Separatism and Coalitions
… Coalitions with Whom?
… What Issues are Feminists?
… Responding to the 1980s
… Nationalism and Integrationism

15. Violence and Non-Violence as Tactics
… Against Violence
… Criticism of Nonviolence
… Why the Lack of Strategy?

16. What We Want, and How to Get There
… Plural Outcomes
… Tactics: Linked to Goals?
… Feminist Structures: Small Groups vs. Large Organizations
… Can a Radical Feminist Recruit?