This essay argues that feminism is impossible. After examining a recent #MeToo episode—a bad sexual encounter between actor Aziz Ansari and a woman named Grace—as a case study in feminist disappointment, the essay turns to several key seventies feminist texts to reconstruct their theories of bad sex. By taking bad sex as the model for women’s oppression, seventies feminists crafted a culturalist theory of patriarchy logically culminating in lesbian separatism. This theory, while containing the essence of all feminisms, proved unactionable: feminism could not outlaw women’s stubborn desires for men. Hence, by the eighties, some feminists had reframed bad sex as rape, calling upon the state to police sex in lieu of changing women’s minds. In conclusion, the essay returns to the Ansari affair, taking Grace’s continued attachment to heterosexuality despite its disappointments as an image for feminists’ attachment to feminism despite its evident impossibility.
The Impossibility of Feminism
andrea long chu is a doctoral candidate at New York University. Her work has been published in n+1, Artforum, Bookforum, Boston Review, Women & Performance, tsq, and Journal of Speculative Philosophy. Her book Females: A Concern is under contract with Verso.
Andrea Long Chu; The Impossibility of Feminism. differences 1 May 2019; 30 (1): 63–81. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-7481232
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