Penile Imperialism: The Male Sex Right and Women’s Subordination
6 Sep. 2022
Paperback / softback
Few feminist critics have written more trenchantly than Sheila Jeffreys. From her first book The Spinster and Her Enemies to her most recent Penile Imperialism: The Male Sex Right
and Women’s Subordination, Jeffreys has always been clear that the sexual exploitation of women in all its forms is located in a male sexual rights movement that throughout history has championed and achieved the liberation of male sexuality —what Jeffreys names ‘liberating the perversions’. Deepened by Jeffreys grasp of history, Penile Imperialism is a bold book that calls for a profound understanding of ‘the reign of terror’ that has shaped and harmed many women lives.
– Janice Raymond, PhD, author of Doublethink: A Feminist Challenge to Transgenderism, A Passion for Friends and Women as Wombs
Sheila Jeffreys has written a sobering, devastating – indeed, an exceptionally lucid book about male sexual violence and the consequent erasure of womankind. Her discussions about public sexual harassment, the increase of pornography and prostitution, and a new kind of anti–feminist men’s rights movement carried out by a sexually fueled and well financed group of male transvestites flying under the banner of transgender rights is absolutely essential reading. Jeffreys’ chapters on pedophilia, ‘kink’, and male sexual fetishes taught me things I never knew and that are crucial for a feminist understanding of contemporary reality. Brava Sheila for having the tenacity and vision and sheer stomach–churning capacity to bring this all to our attention.
–Phyllis Chesler, PhD, author of Women and Madness, A Politically Incorrect Feminist and Requiem for a Female Serial Killer
Incisive and prescient. Sheila Jeffreys attacks the entitlement of the ‘male sex right’ as going above and beyond the notion of ‘consent’. She also sounds an alarm about the dangerous sanitisation of male perversions – both historic and contemporary. While there is a categorical attempt at pushing misogynistic practices on women across age groups – strategically ensconced under the postmodern veneer of ‘choice’ and ‘sexual liberation’ – Penile Imperialism takes no prisoners as it lambasts all forms of sexual slavery. Jeffreys' words serve both as a punch in the gut, and much-needed prophetic wisdom of the matriarch.
–Vaishnavi Sundar, feminist writer, filmmaker and activist from India
In Penile Imperialism radical feminist writer and activist Sheila Jeffreys argues that women live under penile imperialism, a regime in which men are assumed to have a ‘sex right’ of access to the bodies of women and girls. She reasons that the ‘sexual revolution’ that began in the 1960s unleashed an explicit male sexual liberation and that even now, under current laws and cultural mores, women do not have the right to self-determination in relation to their bodies. Sheila Jeffreys argues that the exercise of the male sex right has mainstreamed misogynist attitudes and so-called sexual freedom has meant the freedom of men to use women and children with impunity. The power dynamics of sex, rather than being eliminated, has been eroticised, supported by state regulations and structures that have further entrenched male domination. And while men’s sexual fetishisms such as BDSM and transvestism have been normalised, women now have to fight as their spaces are being erased and their voices silenced in a faux inclusivity that has ‘naturalised’ sexual harassment. Sheila Jeffreys contends that women’s human rights are profoundly harmed and sexual violence is used more than ever to enforce social control of women. This is a sobering and brilliant analysis of the modern predicament of women that is impossible to ignore.