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Dec 29

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Opposition to the practice of sexual intercourse

“Interestingly, these two women, Swiney and Elmy, made clear their opposition to the practice of sexual intercourse. This practice has become so sacred that it is almost impossible to imagine any serious challenge being made to it. What we have seen in the last hundred years is the total and compulsory enforcement of that sexual practice upon women so that women are allowed absolutely no outlet or escape from it.

“But at the end of the nineteenth century, there were feminists who were prepared to challenge intercourse. They were prepared to say, for instance, that it was dangerous for women’s health; that it led to unwanted pregnancies or forced women to use forms of technology, contraception, that reduced them simply to objects for men’s use; that it humiliated women and made them into things. Feminists pointed out that sexual diseases transmitted through sexual intercourse were dangerous to women’s lives. They felt sexual intercourse to be a humiliating practice because it showed men’s dominance more obviously than anything else. They believed that this practice should take place only for the purposes of reproduction, maybe every three or four years. I know these are ideas which if you voiced them today would make people think that you had taken leave of your senses. But these were ideas that were absolutely mainstream [at the time]…”

from “Sexology and Antifeminism,” Sheila Jeffreys (italics mine), in The Sexual Liberals and the Attack on Feminism, Dorchen Leidholdt and Janice G. Raymond, eds.

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