The Sexual Contract

Front Cover
John Wiley & Sons, Jun 5, 2018 - Social Science - 280 pages
Carole Pateman is one of the foremost political theorists writing in English today. In this outstanding new work, she presents a major reinterpretation of modern political theory. She shows how standard discussions of social contract theory tell only half the story. The sexual contract which establishes modern patriarchy and the political right of men over women is never mentioned. In a wide-ranging and scholarly discussion, Pateman examines the significance of the political fictions of the original contract and the slave contract. She also offers a sweeping challenge to conventional understandings - of both left and right - of actual contracts in everyday life: the marriage contract, the employment contract, the prostitution contract and the new surrogacy contract. By bringing a feminist perspective to bear on the contradictions and paradoxes surrounding women and contract and the relation between the sexes, she is able to shed new light on the fundamental problems of freedom and subordination. The Sexual Contract will become a classic text in the politics of gender and will be of major interest to students of social and political theory and philosophy, women's studies, sociology and jurisprudence.


1 Contracting In
2 Patriarchal Confusions
3 Contract the Individual and Slavery
4 Genesis Fathers and the Political Liberty of Sons
5 Wives Slaves and Wage Slaves
6 Feminism and the Marriage Contract
7 Whats Wrong with Prostitution?
8 The End of the Story?

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2018)

Carole Pateman is a feminist and political theorist. She is known as a critic of liberal democracy and has been a member of the British Academy since 2007.

Bibliographic information