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Laurie Penny on the New Sexual Revolution

An urgent analysis of the revolution in sexual politics we are living through

‘This is a story about how modern masculinity is killing the world, and how feminism can save it. It’s a story about sex and power and trauma and resistance and persistence.’ 

So begins Laurie Penny’s new book Sexual Revolution: Modern Fascism and the Feminist Fightback. Penny is one of the most influential young journalists writing about politics and feminism today, and in February 2022 they came to Intelligence Squared to set out their manifesto for social change.

We are in an era of crisis, collapse, and reactionary tyrants, Penny will argue, but we are also witnessing a transformation: a revolutionary change in how we define gender, sex, consent and whose bodies matter; and we are reimagining ways of organising care, reproduction, and the work of building and sustaining the human species. But, as Penny will show, there is resistance: these changes threaten the social and economic certainties that form our world; they threaten existing power structures, and they undermine the authority of institutions from the waged workplace to the nuclear family.

Penny was in conversation with cultural historian Shahidha Bari, to give an urgent analysis of the revolution in sexual politics we are living through, and to hear a call for a new ethics of consent whereby coercion and bullying are no longer acceptable and every human being, no matter what body they were born in, has the right to dignity and personal autonomy.

Praise for Sexual Revolution: Modern Fascism and the Feminist Fightback

‘I can’t really think of another writer who so consistently and bravely keeps thinking and talking and learning and trying to make the world better.’ – Caitlin Moran

‘Laurie Penny’s searing critique of male dominance, violence and supremacy traces the link between everyday sexism and the far right’s project of biopower. Penny’s quiet but incandescent anger burns through every page, guiding us with wit and erudition towards solutions that involve a hitherto discounted possibility: that men might change.’ – Paul Mason



Laurie Penny

Author, journalist and screenwriter, whose new book is Sexual Revolution: Modern Fascism and the Feminist Fightback

Author, journalist and screenwriter. They are a culture writer for Wired magazine and have written for The Guardian, The New Statesman, The New York Times, Time Magazine and many more publications. The youngest person ever shortlisted for the Orwell Prize, Penny is a graduate of the Nieman Foundation.  Fellows’ programme at Harvard University and the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop. They are the author of 8 books, including The Bitch Doctrine, Unspeakable Things, Penny Red and most recently Sexual Revolution: Modern Fascism and the Feminist Fightback.

Shahidha Bari

Writer, academic and broadcaster

Professor of Fashion Cultures and Histories at London College of Fashion at the University of the Arts London, and a Fellow of the Forum for Philosophy at the London School of Economics. She is a regular presenter of the BBC Radio 3's Arts and Ideas programme, Free Thinking, and an occasional presenter of BBC Radio 4's Front Row and Saturday Review. She contributes to Aeon, The Financial Times, Frieze art magazine, The Guardian, The Observer, The Times Literary Supplement and other publications. She is the author of Dressed: The Secret Life of Clothes.