Sexy from the Start: Female Sexuality and the Second Wave of Feminism

Lecture Description

Women, sexuality, print culture, biography, social movements topic

Historians and cultural critics have, to a degree, followed the lead of the media in declaring feminism’s second wave as anti-sex, or, perhaps, “anti-sexy.” Doing so provides a neat contrast between the second wave and the so-called “third wave” of feminism, but it also provides an incomplete, problematic narrative. Nearly four decades before Sex and the City provided television viewers with explicit permission to claim both femininity and feminism, Helen Gurley Brown’s primer, Sex and the Single Girl, became an immediate—and international—feminist sensation. In her book and then as editor of Cosmopolitan, the magazine that continues to foster the philosophy Brown first introduced in 1965, Helen Gurley Brown articulated a set of ideas about women’s bodies, desires, and behaviors. As this talk demonstrates, her influential and controversial approach provided one of the most significant blueprints for what has emerged in recent years as the third wave of feminism.

CATEGORIES

Sexuality Women

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