The Pattern of Sexual Politics

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"The Pattern of Sexual Politics" is the 1999 article by the US academic Harris Mirkin in the Journal of Homosexuality which establishes the a two-phase pattern of sexual politics. The article has caused a lot of controversy and vicious attacks on Mirkin.

According to the article, sex and gender issues were until recently thought to be biological or natural rather than political. The feminist movement largely changed perceptions of gender, and the gay and lesbian movements significantly altered conceptions of sex, so that what were once seen as permanent moral standards are now viewed as historical and political constructions. As views of these groups have moved towards social constructionism, perceptions of child sexuality have become more absolutist. Current attitudes towards child sexuality and representations of it resemble historical attitudes towards women and homosexuals.

This article argues that there is a two-phase pattern of sexual politics. The first is a battle to prevent the battle, to keep the issue from being seen as political and negotiable. Psychological and moral categories are used to justify ridicule and preclude any discussions of the issue, and standard Constitutional guarantees are seen as irrelevant. The second phase more closely resembles traditional politics as different groups argue over rights and privileges. Feminist and gay/lesbian politics have recently entered the second phase, while pedophilia is in the first.

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