I picked this book for Nonfiction November and it took me almost 15 days to plod through it because of the heaviness of the content. The right to sex by Amia Srinivasan is a tome that holds in its womb some crucial questions pertaining to sex vis a vis feminism and patriarchy. That is the introduction in a nutshell.
But dive deeper and you see a well researched book. In the preface to the book, the author informs us, “These essays are about the politics and ethics of sex in this world, animated by a hope of a different world. They reach back to an older feminist tradition that was unafraid to think of sex as a political phenomenon. (The essays) dare us to think about the ethics of sex beyond the narrow parameters of ‘consent’. They compel us to ask what forces lie behind a woman’s yes; what it reveals about sex that is something to which consent must be given; how it is that we have come to put so much psychic, cultural and legal weight on a notion of ‘consent’ that cannot support it. And they ask us to join them in dreaming of a freer sex. At the same time, these essays seek to remake the political critique of sex for the twenty-first century: to take seriously the complex relationship of sex to race, class, disability, nationality and caste; to think about what sex has become in the age of internet; to ask what it means to invoke the power of the capitalist and carceral state to address the problems of sex.”
This book turns out to be an eye opener. It shows us how problematic is the way sexuality is viewed, especially, if you are from low caste or different race. The cases cited in this book show us how you become more susceptible to be raped or can succumb to false accusations if you aren’t white or upper caste. The book further talks about how patriarchy is deeply and politically rooted and has always governed the mindset towards sexuality. It speaks about how not just women but men too have been pressurized by these patriarchal norms to act in a certain way. “Men have chosen not to listen because it has suited them not to do so, because norms of masculinity dictate that their pleasure takes priority, because all around them other men have been doing the same.”
It speaks about feminism and where it falters. The factions that thrive within this movement that makes feminist agendas weak.
Further it questions if porn has been a political tool. Does porn have the power to dictate standard of sex. Citing one incident the author writes that a student of hers was dumped because her boyfriend told her that “she was doing it wrong.” “…he wanted me to be like those women’- the women in the porn” In this sense can “porn be viewed as a virtual training ground for male sexual aggression”, she asks. These incidences and quotes from varied sources attribute authority to porn that make women feel inferior, humiliated and less pleasured for.
There’s an authority and assertiveness in Srinivasan’s words. She doesn’t mince words. About sexual revolution she writes, “Whom exactly, then, did the sexual revolution set free?” “Women who say no still really mean yes, and women who say yes are still sluts. Black and brown men are still rapists, and the rape of black or brown women still doesn’t count. Girls are still asking for it. Boys still must learn to give it.” “We have never yet been free,” she concludes and it rings true.
The author places the facts in front of us and makes us ponder. She takes us step by step into each topic of discussion. She makes us debate with ourselves.
Under a tiny umbrella, the book talks about gender inequality, politics of desire, body shaming, taboo relationship, misogynistic entitlement, incarceration, #metoo movement, identity politics, incels, femcels, fuckability and unfuckability, etc. vis a vis feminists movements. It revisits history and evaluates the present scenarios.
These essays are spectacular and incredibly well articulated. There’s a lot that every essay says and to include all of it in one review is difficult. However, if the above mentioned topics interest you then you should certainly give this tome a read.
To buy this book, pls click- https://amzn.to/3EmBvoD
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