Gender Studies | Themes in Gender Studies: Feminist Sex Wars
G205 | 14570 | Lane, B


Arguments about the politics of sexuality began in the first wave of feminism and have not ended yet. 
Throughout the history of feminism, women (and men) have debated questions of power, passion, violence, 
representation, consent, agency, diversity, and autonomy associated with sex. In particular, the decade 
from 1980 to 1990 witnessed a series of bitter political and cultural battles over issues of sexuality 
that convulsed not only the feminist movement, but also the nation as a whole-battles over the regulation 
of pornography, the scope of legal protections for gay people, the funding of allegedly 'obscene' art, the 
content of safe-sex education, the scope of reproductive freedom for women, the extent of sexual abuse 
of children, and more. Feminist Sex Debates considers the various ways in which feminism has analyzed 
sexuality as an arena of social life, particularly in America from the 1960s to the present day, with a 
detailed focus on the decade of the 1980s in particular. Course material ranges from particular films, 
cases from the law, newspaper articles, and popular writings from to scholarly work by feminist and queer 
theorists. Special topics may include discussions of rape and sexual violence, prostitution and sex work, 
sadomasochism, lesbianism, MTF transexuality, and pornography.