chapter  2
'Facts of life' or the eroticization of women's oppression? Sexology and the social construction of heterosexuality
ByMargaret Jackson
Pages 30

My research into sexology stemmed initially from my involvement in the Women's Liberation Movement, and especially in the campaigning group Women Against Violence Against Women. I was a member of a group which was interested in analysing male sexuality and its function in the social control of women, and I took on the task of investigating the role of sexologists in legitimizing prevalent myths about male sexuality, for example the myth that men rape women because they are overcome by uncontrollable sexual urges. As I ploughed through the sexological literature of the early and late twentieth century it became clear to me that sexology was about much more than legitimizing myths; it was also about constructing a model of sexuality which purported to be objective and scientific but in fact reflected and promoted the interests of men in a sexually divided society. Although I had long ago abandoned belief in simplistic notions of sexual liberation, and had learned, like other feminists, to see the 'sexual revolution' for what it really was, namely a means of increasing and legitimating male right of sexual access to women, I was surprised at the degree of anti-feminism contained in the sexologists' writings. I had gained the impression, from reading feminist and Marxist analyses of the work of early twentiethcentury sexologists and sex reformers such as Havelock Ellis and Stella Browne, that these pioneers of sexual enlightenment had been decidedly pro-feminist (Rowbotham 1977; Rowbotham and Weeks 1977); and I had read several articles by American radical feminists drawing attention to the feminist implications of the work of Masters and Johnson (e.g. Koedt 1970). But the more sexology I read, the more convinced I became that its theories and

recommendations, if put into practice, could only work against the interests of women and reinforce male supremacy.