By Ellen Willis

With attribute intelligence, wit, and feminist perception, Ellen Willis addresses democracy as she sees it: “a dedication to person freedom and egalitarian self-government in each sector of social, monetary, and cultural life.” relocating among scholarly and down-to-earth activist writing kinds, Willis confronts the conservative backlash that has slowly eroded democratic beliefs and advances of the Sixties in addition to the interior debates that experience usually splintered the left.

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No doubt there are also thousands of women who have quietly concluded that if this ideal is feminism, then feminism has nothing to do with them. i i In short, feminists are at a theoretical impasse. If a feminist politics that advocates restrictions on male sexuality leads inexorably to the Toward a feminist Sexual Revolution 31 sexual repression of women and the strengthening of anti-feminist forces, such a politics is obviously untenable. But how can women support sexual freedom for both sexes without legitimizing the most oppressive aspects of male sexual behavior?

But that argument loses its force if sexual repression is itself deeply inimical to human well-being and even survival; if indeed repression fosters, rather than curbs, sexual and social irresponsibility and violence. The radical Freudian analysis of sex is embedded in its psychosocial analysis of the family—specifically, of how children are inducted into the established social order, a crucial issue for feminists. In contemporary feminist discourse, however, these are two quite separate discussions.

I don't think they can. Adults can too easily manipulate children's needs for affection, protection, and approval; children are too inexperienced to understand all the implications of what they're agreeing to (or even, in some cases, initiating). And it seems to me that what attracts adults to children is precisely their "innocence"—which is to say their relative powerlessness. There is the question, though, of where to draw lines. At what age does a child become a young person, and when does protecting children from exploitation become a denial of young people's sexual autonomy?

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