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Last Updated on September 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 407

Sexual Politics by Kate Millett is a work of nonfiction. It discusses historical figures who contributed to the evolution of patriarchy and hegemonic misogyny and focuses on how cultural elements both reflect and create patriarchal ideology. Millett discusses several important thinkers and writers as central examples of her arguments.

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Sigmund Freud

The Austrian psychologist and neurologist Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) is well-known as the "father" of psychoanalysis. Freud himself would consider his work descriptive; in other words, Freud and his followers would argue that Freud's work simply reports observations of how the human psyche works and contains universal truths about the nature of people's minds.

Millett argues that Freud's work is actually normative—that is, it advances a specific cultural agenda about the nature of gender and functions to enforce patriarchy. Freud, for Millett, normalizes the idea of women as passive and nurturing by nature and considers strength, independence, and ambition in women as a departure from their normal mental heath that needs to be "cured" (in order to realign women with a patriarchal society). Millett argues that, if certain mental health issues are caused in women due to tensions between their desires and patriarchy, what needs to change is not women but society.

Norman Mailer

Norman Kingsley Mailer (1923–2007) was an American writer who produced both imaginative and journalistic works. He is among the founders of a movement known as "New Journalism," which was characterized by mixing personal, autobiographical, and even novelistic elements with traditional reported journalism.

Although Miller portrayed himself as a radical who was strongly opposed to the Vietnam War...

(The entire section contains 407 words.)

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