Image: Tessie Orange-Turner
Is consent the foundation for sexual liberation or just another false promise? Does pornography reflect our desires or shape them? Why do some acts of gendered violence become public conversations while others rarely make headlines? Are those who state racial preferences on dating apps responding to racial hierarchies or enacting them? Is the gender binary compatible with sexual freedom? Can a student consent to sex with a teacher? Do we have a right to sex?
The Right to Sex, Amia Srinivasan’s philosophical treatise on contemporary feminism, begins from the premise that sex is always political. From critiques of involuntary celibacy and carceral feminism to discussions of pedagogy and porn, Title IX laws and sexual harassment on campus, Srinivasan questions the political stakes that undergird who is and who is not ‘fuckable’. ‘Fuckability’, for Srinivasan, is not an ahistorical fact, or a quirk of our personalities: instead, our desires are shaped by political principles and social inequalities.
Returning to some of the most revered and despised second-wave feminists such as Andrea Dworkin, Catherine Mackinnon and Adrienne Rich, Srinivasan reinvigorates their insistence that we must consider sex an object of serious social critique.
Over two sessions, the ICA presents two reading groups where Sita Balani and Bryony White will lead a close reading and informed discussion of the text.
Saturday 23 October, 2 – 4pm: Sex/Desire
Tuesday 26 October, 6 – 8pm: Violence/Harassment
Sita Balani is a writer and teacher. In her research and teaching, she explores the relationship between imperialism and identity in contemporary Britain. She is co-author of Empire's Endgame: Racism and the British State (Pluto Press, 2021). Her work has appeared in Vice, Feminist Review, Novara Media, Open Democracy, Tribune, and The White Review.
Bryony White is a writer based in London, UK. She recently finished her PhD at King’s College London, where she wrote on visual art, contemporary performance, queerness and the law. She has written for frieze, the TLS, LA Review of Books and has a monthly column for Elephant magazine. She co-edits the tinyletter, close.