Thirty Years After The Morning After

Thirty years ago, Katie Roiphe’s The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism challenged the emphasis on “rape culture” and “date rape” that defined 1980s and 1990s feminism. The 25-year-old enfant terrible of a feminist discourse that focused on women’s victimization at the hands of men, Roiphe argued that, in the sexual realm, feminists should celebrate liberation and accept responsibility, not seek protection and embrace victimhood.

In 1993, Roiphe’s controversial contention was both reflective and constitutive of “pro-sex feminism.” This orientation had undergirded the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s but had been, since the AIDS crisis of the early 1980s, uniformly marginalized in favor of what Roiphe termed “a new bedroom politics” of “just say no,” “no means no,” and sexual “trauma and disease.” This new politics often demonized men while patronizing women. For Roiphe, a feminist emphasis on sexual danger reflects an alarmingly infantilizing and neo-Victorian return to an obsession with womanhood as “delicate,” with “pure intentions and wide eyes.” 


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