There is a new edition of Kate Millet’s ground breaking book Sexual Politics coming out this month. It’s been 45 year since it was first published and some things have changed and some things remain stubbornly the same.
There is a great article at the New Yorker by Rebecca Mead that is partially adapted from the afterward to the new edition. It discusses why the book was so revolutionary and some of the ways it is now dated and some of the ways it is still frighteningly relevant. Here’s a taste:
Re-reading ‘Sexual Politics’ today, I am struck anew by two things. One is that, while Millett was publicly cast in the polarizing role of polemicist, there is often in her tone the cool, controlled archness of the literary essayist, a role she might easily have inhabited had the times not called upon her to do otherwise. The book is suffused with a strain of very dark, angry humor, an aspect of Millett’s writing that seems to have been barely noticed—or was perhaps invisible—upon publication. […] If ‘Sexual Politics’ has endured, it is not just because so much of the political work it recommends remains undone, but also because it is an astringent pleasure to be in the company of Millett on the page
I have the book on my bookshelf. I read parts of it in college but not the entire book. I remember it being rather eye-opening and rage inducing. Perhaps that is why I never read it completely? Not sure. But Mead’s piece makes me want to pull it from the bookshelf if for no other reason than the stellar literary analysis it contains and the presumption that art is important. I am not certain one could take a such a stance on the broad cultural value of art these days which is heartbreaking in its own way.
Two of my library hold requests are currently on their way to my library so I won’t have time to pick up Millet’s book now, unfortunately. Perhaps in a month or two I will be at a place I can pick it up. Or maybe that is just more delusional thinking on my part; I seem to be into that lately.