- The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory
- List of Contributors
- Feminist Theory: Transforming the Known World
- Coloniality of Gender and Power: From Postcoloniality to Decoloniality
- Cyborgs and Virtual Bodies
- Formal, Informal, and Care Economies
- Feminist Jurisprudence
- Feminist Standpoint
- Gendered Divisions of Labor
- Intersexuality, Transgender, and Transsexuality
- Microphysics of Power
- Militarization and War
- Norms and Normalization
- Performativity and Performance
- The Personal Is Political
- Pop Culture/Visual Culture
- Posthuman Feminist Theory
- Pregnancy, Personhood, and the Making of the Fetus
- Race and Racialization
- Reproduction: From Rights to Justice?
- Science Studies
- Sexual Difference
- Subjectivity and Subjectivation
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter explores the ways that feminist theorists, from both social constructionist and poststructural perspectives, have addressed the question of what sexuality is. We suggest that core to all kinds of feminist thinking about sexuality is that it cannot be understood simply as a fixed biological essence and that it involves power dynamics, as captured by the phrase sexual politics. Yet there is no agreement among feminist theorists about the questions of whether women’s sexuality is fundamentally different than men’s, or whether women’s experiences of sexuality are characterized more by danger or pleasure. We take up these debates to think through the history and future of feminist theories of sexuality.
Leila J. Rupp is Distinguished Professor of Feminist Studies and Interim Dean of Social Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has published extensively on women’s movements, sexualities, and transnational history. Her award-winning work includes Sapphistries: A Global History of Love between Women and (with Verta Taylor) Drag Queens at the 801 Cabaret.
Carly Thomsen,Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Rice University
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