Heterosexuality in Question


Stevi Jackson

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    For Sue

    Preface and Acknowledgements

    The bulk of this volume comprises previously published work, framed by introductory and concluding chapters written specifically for the book, situating the contents within ongoing debates in heterosexuality. Chapters 2Chapter 11 have been edited for continuity and to avoid excessive repetition, but only Chapter 2 has been substantially abridged. I have avoided the use of ellipses to indicate cuts in the interests of fluency. I have also resisted the urge to rewrite earlier work in more contemporary language. Each of the previously published chapters is preceded by a short editorial commentary, which explains the context in which the work was produced and provides an opportunity for a retrospective critical reflection on it; since both contextualization and reflexive critique are more necessary in relation to my earlier work, the commentaries in Part Two are longer than those in Part Three.

    Bringing this work together has not only been an opportunity to think about the development of my own work, but also about the people who have been important to me intellectually, professionally and personally. Since these writings span most of my adult life, I cannot possibly acknowledge everyone who has influenced or supported me, but I will do my best. I should begin with my first mentor, Laurie Taylor, who supervised my Master's dissertation, edited the series in which my first book was published, helped me find an authorial voice and encouraged me in very many ways. The other major influence at the beginning of my career was Diana Leonard, who was instrumental in getting most of my early work published and in drawing me into a community of feminist scholars. She has continued to be a presence in my life ever since, and I owe her a great many intellectual and personal debts. My oldest friend, Jean Thirtle, deserves a mention not simply for being there for 30 years, but also for the innumerable personal and political discussions we have had about sexuality – and so too does Chris Jones, who has been a participant in those discussions and a friend for almost as long. My first academic job was in a decidedly non-elite institution in a small North Wales town. Here Peter Rushton helped keep my brain alive through debate and collaborative work, while Dave and Louise Carpenter, Glyn Watson and Mary Dalton provided other forms of support. When I moved on to the Polytechnic of Wales – subsequently the University of Glamorgan – I was again grateful to those friends and colleagues both within and outside the institution who sustained me intellectually and personally through the depressing 1980s and into the 1990s, especially to Deirdre Beddoe, Pauline Young, David Adamson, Peter Brunsdon, Teri Bewer, Jane Prince, Rose Pearson, David Hillier, Tia DeNora, Brendan Young and Shaun Moores. At the University of Strathclyde I would like to thank all those colleagues both from the Department of Government and from Women's Studies, who helped to make my five years there both intellectually productive and personally enjoyable, especially Catherine Grant, Anne Witz, Debbie Cameron, Hazel Croall, Tom Mackie, David Judge, Terry Cox, Momin Rahman and Magdalene Ang. I would also like to thank all the women I have worked with on the Trouble & Strife collective who, in addition to two already mentioned in other contexts (Diana Leonard and Debbie Cameron), include Sophie Laws, Lisa Adkins, Dianne Butterworth, Liz Kelly and Joan Scanlon. Not only have I received from them incisive and constructive criticism of my writing, but they have also helped keep me in touch with feminism's activist roots and ensured that I do not forget that theory has a political purpose. There are a number of individuals who have been particularly important to me in the last few years. Christine Delphy's ideas have long had a strong influence on mine, but since I have come to know her personally I have been grateful for her interest in, and support for, my work as well as for challenging discussions of feminist theory. In Gabriele Griffin and Sasha Roseneil I have found not only the stimulation of productive collaboration but valued friends. Kathryn Backett-Milburn and Sue Scott have provided both intellectual and emotional support. Sue, in particular, has been both a co-author and close friend with whom I have shared the vicissitudes and contradictions of living as a heterosexual feminist. Writing with her has been inspirational, fruitful and, above all, fun. Sue has had more influence on this book than she is likely to be aware of. Not only are many of the ideas developed in the more recent chapters derived from our collaboration, but her support for the project kept me going when my enthusiasm flagged. I doubt I could have finished it had she not seen me through some tough times and given me a well aimed kick (metaphorically speaking) in the closing stages. Finally, I would like to thank Karen Phillips, my editor at Sage, who has displayed patience above and beyond the call of duty and who has been consistently supportive and encouraging.


    Chapter 2 is taken from The Social Construction of Female Sexuality, London: Womenʼns Research and Resources Centre (1978). Chapter 3, ‘The social context of rape: sexual scripts and motivation’ was originally published in Womenʼns Studies International Quarterly, 1(1), 1978, pp. 27–38. Chapter 4, ‘How to make babies: sexism in sex education’ was originally published in Womenʼns Studies International Quarterly, 1(4), 1978, pp. 341–52. Chapters 3 and Chapter 4 are reproduced by permission from Elsevier Science Ltd, Pergamon Imprint, Oxford. Chapter 5, ‘Femininity, masculinity and sexuality’ is from On the Problem of Men: Two Feminist Conferences, edited by Scarlet Friedman and Elizabeth Sarah, first published in 1982 by The Womenʼns Press Ltd, 34 Great Sutton Street, London EC1V 0LQ, and is reproduced with their agreement. Chapter 6, ‘The desire for Freud’, was published in Trouble & Strife, 1 (1983). Chapter 7, ‘Even sociologists fall in love: an exploration in the sociology of emotions’ appeared in Sociology, 27(2), 1993, pp. 201–20, and is reproduced with the permission of BSA Publications Ltd. Chapter 8, ‘Women and heterosexual love: complicity, resistance and change’ is taken from L. Pearce and J. Stacey (eds) Romance Revisited, London: Lawrence and Wishart and is reproduced by arrangement with the publishers. Chapter 9, ‘Gender and heterosexuality: a materialist feminist analysis’ appeared in M. Maynard and J. Purvis (eds) (Hetero)sexual Politics, London: Taylor & Francis (1995) and is reproduced by permission of Taylor & Francis. Chapter 10 appeared as ‘Ignorance is Bliss when youʼnre Just Seventeen’ in Trouble & Strife, 33 (1996) and Chapter 11 as ‘Taking liberties’ in Trouble & Strife, 34 (1997).

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