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feminists@law, Vol 8, No 1 (2018)

The Sexual Contract: 30 Years On

Carole Pateman*

This is a video of Carole Pateman's Keynote address at the Sexual Contract: 30 Years On conference held at the School of Law and Politics, Cardiff University on 10-11 May 2018.

In her address, Pateman reflects on the antecedents and contemporary context for the writing of her book, The Sexual Contract (Polity Press, 1988), in political theory and in the women's movement of the 1970s. She goes on to discuss several key features of the book, including the distinction made in chapter 2 between different historical forms of patriarchy, with the modern form of patriarchy being based on contract, in which sexual subordination is presented as voluntary. She notes that the book focuses on contracts concerning property in the person and in particular contracts within three institutions: employment, marriage and prostitution. She goes on to respond to some of the feminist criticisms of her argument about prostitution, before concluding by noting the interdisciplinary audience the book has attracted, particularly among legal academics.

 

* Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, UCLA and Honorary Professor, Cardiff University. Email: pateman@ucla.edu.

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