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Overcoming a False Dichotomy in Feminism


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In the Boston Review, Judith Levine reviews Reckoning: The Epic Battle Against Sexual Abuse and Harassment by historian and lawyer Linda Hirshman. The book gives an account of the protest movements, legal cases, and historical events that contributed to the battle against sexual harassment in postwar America, leading up to the #MeToo movement of today. In her review, Levine argues that Hirshman’s account presents a “false dichotomy between two kinds of feminism: those fighting for sexual liberation and those fighting for equality.” In reality, suggests Levine, these fights are one and the same. Here’s an excerpt:

Reckoning is a missed opportunity to provide the historical ballast for a thrilling new movement powering forward on women’s militancy and solidarity. The ship of #MeToo has not entirely found its course. Signs point in two directions—toward repressive protectionism, vengeance, and punishment, or toward restorative justice and a feminism that celebrates sexual mutuality and diversity and strives to realize what Nimko Ali, the Somali campaigner against female genital mutilation, calls the human right to pleasure. Such politics do not minimize sexual danger.

Image via Boston Review.