8 Kate Millett Quotes That Prove Her Feminist Writings Are As Relevant As Ever

Influential feminist and Sexual Politics author Kate Millett died of a heart attack on Thursday at the age of 82, while visiting Paris with her wife, Sophie Kerr. To honor her memory, I have collected eight wonderful Kate Millett quotes that prove sexual politics are still groundbreaking today.

Millett's best-known work, 1970's Sexual Politics was an expansion of the doctoral thesis she wrote at Columbia University in 1969. It examined the roles of women and sex in texts by four celebrated, male writers: Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, D.H. Lawrence, and Jean Genet. Revisiting Sexual Politics in 2005, Emily Wilson wrote in The Guardian:

Millett opens her famous polemic with some forensic analysis of sex scenes from novels by Henry Miller and Norman Mailer. The Mailer scene details the anal rape of a maid by a man who has just murdered his wife - with the maid loving it. Blimey, you think, by the end of it: these guys really don't like women much.

Sexual Politics put a finger on the misogyny of "canonical" authors, and was one of several landmark feminists texts to emerge from the mid-20th century that pinned down the problems of patriarchy. That list includes Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch and Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique. Critically, though, Millett's work is much more LGBTQIA-friendly than either Greer's or Friedan's essays.

It would be reductive to pretend that Millett's work began and ended with Sexual Politics, however. She also wrote about incarceration, government surveillance, the philosophy of love, and eldercare. She wrote true-crime and travel literature. In addition to being a feminist activist, writer, and rabble-rouser, Millett was a Christmas tree farmer and a sculptor.

Kate Millett is gone, but her legacy lives on today. Check out the eight Kate Millett quotes I've chosen for you below, and share your favorites with me on Twitter!

“To succeed, both the sexual revolution and the Woman's Movement which led it would have to unmask chivalry and expose its courtesies as subtle manipulation.”

“Hamlet jumped into a grave and raved that forty-thousand brothers could not love Ophelia more than he. But then he helped to kill her, too.”

— from The Basement

“I don't believe in monogamy, possessing people, the rightness or inevitability of jealousy.”

— from Sita

“I did not know her pleasure from mine, my body from hers. We fell into and became each other. Then we slipped over the edge, entered and made love.”

— from Flying

“How they love it, being young and so full of sex themselves, its energy, its ripe invitation; sexual appetite is a presence in the room, its apprehension here is a celebration.”

“Torture makes all the difference. To be arrested knowing you will be tortured is to know absolute helplessness before absolute power. That situation is our subject. This is government through gear, even terror: state terrorism, which is to say the activity of respected and recognized authority.”

“You have been with me ever since, in incubus, a nightmare, my own nightmare, the nightmare of adolescence, of growing up a female child, of becoming a woman in a world set against us, a world we have lost and where we are everywhere reminded of our defeat.”

— from The Basement

“Patriarchy, reformed or unreformed, is patriarchy still: its worst abuses purged or foresworn, it might actually be more stable and secure than before.”