The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty-First Century, by Amia Srinivasan

Second paragraph of third chapter:

In the hours between murdering three men in his apartment and driving to Alpha Phi, Rodger went to Starbucks, ordered coffee, and uploaded a video, “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution,” to his YouTube channel. He also emailed a 107,000-word memoir-manifesto, “My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger,” to a group of people including his parents and his therapist. Together these two documents detail the massacre to come and Rodger’s motivations. “All I ever wanted was to fit in and live a happy life,” he explains at the beginning of “My Twisted World,” “but I was cast out and rejected, forced to endure an existence of loneliness and insignificance, all because the females of the human species were incapable of seeing the value in me.”

I can’t remember where I picked up this recommendation, but it is very good. It’s a collection of feminist essays on society in general and the legal system in particular, addressing the following topics:

  • the politics of rape allegations
  • pornography
  • incels and the “right to sex”, with a postscript based on student discussions
  • sexual relationships between university students and teachers, wherein she asks why there is so little discussion of the negative impact of such relationships on teaching and learning
  • prostitution, prison and the dangers of a blinkered legalistic approach.

These are punchy and difficult issues, and it’s often difficult reading. Srinivasan has more questions than answers, and they are generally very good questions to which I don’t have even the beginnings of an answer. Her fundamental points are that it is completely inadequate to reach for the legal system to deal with issues of gender justice, when what is needed is a complete revolution in society; and also that a lot of the proposed and implemented legal solutions demonstrably make things worse.

Of course the essays are largely directed to the situation in the United States, where as we’ve seen in recent years the “law enforcement” system is completely out of control. But we are far from perfect in Europe, and much of what Srinivasan writes can be directly applied to any society. It’s really worth reading, especially in the light of this morning’s news. You can get it here.

This was my top unread book by a non-white writer. Next on that pile is Manifesto, by Bernardine Evaristo.