US author and activist Kate Millett, whose book Sexual Politics was seen as groundbreaking in its view of gender roles and the patriarchy, has died in Paris aged 82. Millett was an icon of second-wave feminism, and is thought to have been in France celebrating the birthday of her wife, photojournalist Sophie Keir. Millett campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment in the US, for women’s reproductive rights, and for women’s rights in Iran, among other issues.
In 1981, she and Keir collaborated on Going to Iran, a book about their trip to Iran during the Iranian revolution. The pair were arrested attending women’s protests in Tehran, and Millett later told People magazine of her terrifying experience as she overheard authorities discussing her sexual orientation, which she had written about openly, and which is illegal in Iran. However, her main concern was for the Iranian women, saying, “they can’t get on a plane. That’s why international sisterhood is so important.”
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In 2001, Millett spoke to The Guardian about her activism, saying:
I love making trouble. It’s a wonderful job. You don’t get paid but you have a lot of adventures.
Sexual Politics was based on Millett’s PhD thesis from Columbia University which she wrote in 1969 and quickly began making an impact. In a 1970 review, The New York Times hailed it as “the Bible of Women’s Liberation.” In the same year, the book and a painting of Millett made it onto the cover of Time magazine. Sexual Politics is often aligned with other feminist classics of that time such as Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch. Recently, Greer’s refusal to accept transgender women as part of the feminist movement has distanced her from modern intersectional feminism.
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