Sexuality and difference: on whose terms?

  • Cynthia Cockburn


While men in powerful positions in organizations may well see good reason to introduce fairer practices in recruitment and promotion, special training for women, or more generous maternity leave, it is seldom men who raise the issue of sexual politics. That is left to women. Indeed, in many organizations it has been sexual harassment, incidents in which men have annoyed, persecuted or abused women sexually, that have prompted women to become more conscious of disadvantage and to organise spontaneously, in a union or without one, for positive measures for women at work. Flowing from a concern with sexual harassment are some wider issues. One is the sexualisation of social relations in organizations and what that means for women. Another is the heterosexism of much workplace culture and the significance of homosexuality in the struggle over male sex-right in the workplace, which will be discussed in Chapter 6. Sexuality is more likely than any other issue to spark off arguments for and against separate organization by women, separate provision for women and whether or not the equality project is ‘feminism’.


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© Cynthia Cockburn 1991

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  • Cynthia Cockburn

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