Abby Rockefeller, president of the Cambridge-based corporation Clivus Multrum USA and author of a recent article on sexism in the women's journal More Fun and Games, told the Cambridge Forum last night that differences in male and female sexual desires are the basis of sexism.
In a panel discussion with Karen Lindsey, columnist for The Boston Phoenix, and Irving Singer '48, professor of philosophy at MIT and author of "The Goals of Human Sexuality," Rockefeller said that women are always physically and psychologically vulnerable to male oppression in the form of sexual relations which they do not want.
"When women agree to this kind of sexual relation, they are being driven to behave in ways which are not good for them and not true to themselves," Rockefeller said.
She said this causes women to feel a self-loathing which "throws them back into inferiority in a cyclical pattern."
Abstinence from sex is preferable to relations which are "unfriendly and unsafe," Rockefeller said.
She added that "celibacy ought to be an honorable option, whereas now it is not."
Rockefeller said she felt the feminist movement is "going in a wrong direction" by putting pressure on women to feel that they must have the same sexual desires as men.
Lindsey said that differences in desire between men and women are the result of "an overall pattern of oppression."
"Women have constantly supplied a free labor source, and one of those labors is sex," Lindsey said. "Sex has been an economic commodity traded to men for security."
Singer also said he disagreed with Rockefeller's assumption that men and women have different sexual desires. He said the difference in desire depends on individuals.
"Celibacy is right for some women, but for most women it is not at all acceptable," Singer said.