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Female Sexualization: A Collective Work of Memory

Enlightening perspectives on femininity and sexualization.

Foregrounding the body, this remarkable collective work explores the sexualization of women’s bodies, charting the complex interplay of social, political and cultural forces which produce a normative “femininity.” A series of projects which focus on concrete instances of sexualization (hair, legs, the slavegirl stereotype, women’s gymnastics) lead to a broader examination of the relationship between power and sexuality, the social and the psychological. Placing themselves at the crossroad where feminism and socialism meet, the contributors move seamlessly between the autobiographical and the analytical, questioning the diversion between personal and political, mapping the knot of memory and desire at the heart of the gendered body. Vitally, these accounts do not present sexualization as a passive inculcation of social norms: the individual is presented as taking an active role in the construction of gendered identities.


With contributions by Sünne Andresen, Anke Bünz-Elfferding, Frigga Haug, Kornelia Hauser, Ursel Lang, Marion Laudan, Magret Lüdemann, Ute Meir, Barbara Nemitz, Erika Niehoff, Renate Prinz, Nora Räthzel, Martina Scheu, and Christine Thomas


  • Displacements of the Problem of Women's Sexualization

    At the point at which we wrote these stories, we had not yet turned our attention to the way in which sexuality itself is constructed. Writing and discussing stories of this kind left us with a feeling of helplessness; how were we to identify means of defending ourselves against the forms of oppression they described? No matter how far back they went, these stories always depicted the results of an already existing repression of sexuality. Examining the notion of sexuality more closely, we found it to be represented and lived as oppression at the very moment of its emergence; thus its suppression could not be assumed, as we had hitherto believed, to consist solely in a prohibition of the sexual. But then, what is “the sexual”? In the first instance it seems clear that it is something that happens with our bodies. In an attempt then to discover the origins of our deficiencies and our discontents in the domain of the sexual, we decided at an early point in our research to focus our study on our relationships to our bodies and to their development.

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  • Women Strike! A reading list for International Women's Day

    "What is 'Women's Day'? Is it really necessary?" Alexandra Kollontai asked readers of the Russian journal Pravda a centenary ago. "On Women's Day," she wrote, "the organised demonstrate against their lack of rights."

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  • Alexandra Kollontai - International Women's Day

    Women in more than 50 countries will go on strike from paid and unpaid labour today while millions more will be taking part in direct action on what is set to be one of the most political International Women’s Days in history.

    In this article, published in 1920 in Pravda, Russian revolutionary Alexandra Kollontai describes the origins of the day when "the organised demonstrate against their lack of rights."

    >> see also: all our International Women's Day reading, 40% off until March 9th

    Women’s Day or Working Women’s Day is a day of international solidarity, and a day for reviewing the strength and organization of proletarian women.

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