Loose Women, Lecherous Men: A Feminist Philosophy of Sex - Linda LeMoncheck
In her introduction, after giving a long list of various groups of women and their views and goals, both ideological and practical, Linda LeMoncheck says that "this book introduces a feminist philosophy of sex whose express purpose is to advance the dialogue among the competing viewpoints on women's sexual liberation typified in the preceding paragraph". This is an incredibly ambitious intention, due both to the acrimonious nature of these "competing viewpoints", and to the fact that she's trying to do it with a work of philosophy. The chance that all the people she listed above would be interested in reading her academic prose is nil. However, if she could at least mediate debates between theoretical camps, she would provide a useful foundation for people who translate theory into popular language and action.

She bases her arguments on what she calls "the view from somewhere different". In the first place, this is a refusal to consider any one perspective (even her own) as universally valid (but she rejects postmodernism's total dissolution, instead recognizing a variety of socially situated particularities). Any person's experiences and choices are situated in a matrix of social relations, of which the most important to this book is gendered power relations, but race, class, and innumerable other factors can't be separated out.

She also insists that there's a dialectical relation between gender and individuality, which "situates women's sexuality in terms of women's victimization under patriarchy and women's pursuit of sexual exploration, pleasure, and agency". Keeping this dialectic in mind, and recognizing that circumstances will make each person's situation shifting and contradictory, helps thinkers avoid falling into overly-idealistic traps.

LeMoncheck's preferred point of view is based on the moral concept of "care respect", which was formulated by Robin Dillon as "valuing an individual in her specificity, seeking to understand her in her own terms, and caring about and seeking to promote her well-being". LeMoncheck elaborates this: "Care respect promotes a fundamental equality among persons by particularizing individuals instead of generalizing about them" and "balances an ethic of justice that prescribes universal respect for persons with an ethic of care that recommends considerations of context and particularity in personal relations." She thinks this ethic is promising for helping people make ethical decisions in the midst of intense social forces, diverse as their individual situations will be.

LeMoncheck's ethic of difference leads her to give considerable attention to fairly representing the views of a wide variety of feminists, while seeking to find a philosophical ground that all of them could stand on. Although I'm not widely enough read to know whether she truly accurately gives all views, I didn't see any obvious signs of misrepresentation. In spite of some naiveté (for example, she's more ignorant about AIDS than anyone had a right to be in 1997, and her discussion of racial stereotypes suggests that while she knows they're inaccurate, she's not much more experienced herself), and in spite of the fact that this book sounds more dated than I'd have expected from its publication year, she can be insightful.

I don't think that this book is an immortal contribution to feminist discussions, but it's valuable in its way, and its focus on practical, particular, non-definitive, and socially-situated responses appeals to me.