Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Philosophy

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 98 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Lisa Fuller

Committee Members

Kristen Hessler


Feminism, Philosophy, Women, Sexual freedom, Sexual ethics, Feminists

Subject Categories

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Philosophy


This thesis explores feminist responses to the sexual revolution and the extent to which sexual liberation, from the perspective of heterosexual relations, has served women’s interests as an oppressed social group under patriarchy. In particular, this thesis examines the divide between libertarian and radical feminists’ interpretation of sexual liberation, considering both the radical feminist criticisms of the sexist nature of heterosexual sex and the libertarian feminist view of free sexuality as a revolutionary act that ameliorates the condition of women. This thesis offers a middle ground approach to sexual liberation as a feminist value by suggesting two conditions on heterosexual activity that seek to permit maximal sexual autonomy for women, while mitigating risks to female sexual agents under patriarchy. Specifically, the notion of care respect is suggested as a necessary condition for heterosexuality, as it precludes the possibility of dehumanizing sexual objectification of women. The avoidance of mere-instrumentalizing sex (using persons solely as instruments of sexual gratification) is also suggested as a condition of liberated heterosexual activity.