The Sunday Magazine

What would Kate Millett have said?

At a recent memorial for the radical thinker and writer, feminism’s A-list wished they could hear her on the new bravery of women speaking out about rape and sexual assault. Ms. Millett wrote "Sexual Politics," the 1970 book that became a bible of the feminist movement.
U.S. feminist Kate Millett at a poetry conference in London in 1973. (Frank Tewkesbury/Evening Standard/Getty Images)

It has certainly been a remarkable few weeks. 

A cultural moment, for sure. Some hope, a real turning point. Women speaking out like never before — about rape, harassment and assault. Powerful, predatory men falling like flies.

What would Kate Millett have said? 

If only we could hear her now.

In 1970, Kate Millett wrote about sex, power and patriarchy as no one before her ever had. Her doctoral dissertation on the subject became a revolutionary book called Sexual Politics.

It was a work of literary criticism and a polemic — one that drew a straight line between sex and power.

The New York Times predicted that Millett's book would become "the bible of women's liberation." And, for a time, it certainly was.

Kate Millett died in September in one of her favourite cities, Paris, just shy of her 83rd birthday. She had been planning to celebrate there, along with her Canadian partner of almost 40 years, Sophie Kier.

 A few weeks ago, Millett's family, friends and a who's who of the feminist movement, gathered in New York to celebrate her life and influence. 

Here is Eleanor Pam, President of the Veteran Feminists of America, speaking at the tribute:
Eleanor Pam, President of the Veteran Feminists of America 3:58
Kate Millett and Dr. Eleanor Pam at the 2012 Lambda Literary Awards on June 4, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jude Domski/WireImage)


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