Posted by: santaria | October 30, 2007

Sexuality and Power

Today’s class seemed to spark some conflicting feelings in relation to the ways Mackinnon defined sexuality. In “Sexuality”, Mackinnon believes that male dominated sexuality is the basis for hierarchy and used in relation to defining gender characteristics. Similarly, I feel that male sexual domination has contributed to hierarchies and that men’s competing sexual needs (against one another) have also contributed largely to this source of domination.  While men have sought to control women through means of  sexual domination it also seems apparent that males have tried to gain dominance over one another by proving their “sexual force.” If males weren’t competing with one another then it would been hard to explain the  various “hierarchies” that exist. Class and race oppression has exhibited the need for male dominance as well as the need for competition in return. While down-playing those of non-white backgrounds, white males have sexually oppressed those of non-white backgrounds (creating multiple hierarchies in return). With this is mind, it is apparent that male sexual domination has not only defined hierarchies and expectations of genders, but it has also created numerous hierarchies through a male’s competing needs/desires in return. 



  1. Mackinnon’s article “Sexuality” really did spark a debate in class today and I really thought it was quite interesting. I can’t decide whether i disagree with your statement about how male sexual domination defines and creates hierarchies or not. Mackinnon’s examines the definition of sexuality from a completely new perspective and which is where the confusion kind of sets in.
    Stated simply Mackinnon’s definition of sexuality is male dominance; this male dominance creates a sexualized hierarchy and sexualizes other hierarchies. I would have to argue that male dominance is asserted through sexuality, using sexuality as a tool rather than producing it. Male dominance has created hierarchies and defined them because by their dominance they were privileged to be the only ones allowed too. The concept of sexuality really sparked a debate in class but divorcing sexuality from male domination makes a lot more sense. We discussed the lack of analysis of sexuality within other hierarchies; Mackinnon doesn’t really examine any other categories of difference other than that of gender. Other hierarchies can be sexualized, according to her, but it seems she still doesn’t truly address everything. She lacks a historical analysis of rape when it comes to the idea of race in colonial and even present time. She disputes the argument that sex is inherently a non violent act; rather arguing that since sexuality is male domination there is really no real ability of consent. She states: “aside from failing to answer the rather obvious question, if its violence not sex, why didn’t he just hit her? this approach made it impossible to see that violence is sex when it is practiced as sex” (164). She doesn’t really seem to take into account the historical side of rape, how it developed as a way to humiliate and dominate other “inferior” people. Rape is violence; it’s always been used as such. Thus also disputing her argument/ idea that desire isn’t inherently natural and that sex is violence.

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