In relation to the book’s title, Millett explains that many would find it hard to see ‘the relationship between the sexes’, ‘in a political light at all?’ She, however, defines the term “politics” as referring to ‘power-structured relationships, arrangements whereby one group of persons is controlled by another’ and patriarchy is one of these. She states that the ‘situation between the sexes’ is one of ‘dominance and subordination’ which has created a ‘most ingenious form of “interior colonization”’, meaning that women often cannot see that they are oppressed because they are fully acculturated to that oppression, and may even defend the interests of the men who are their masters. ‘Sexual dominion’ she argues, is ‘perhaps the most pervasive ideology of our culture and provides its most fundamental concept of power’.
In 1970 the book created a shock to the political system of male domination, one that has been largely forgotten. Radical feminist theorist Andrea Dworkin wrote of the book: ‘The world was sleeping and Kate Millett woke it up. Betty Friedan had written about the problem that had no name. Kate Millett named it, illustrated it, exposed it, analysed it’. Dworkin continued, ‘I cannot think of anyone who accomplished what Kate Millett did, with this one book. It remains the alpha and omega of the women’s movement. Everything that feminists have done is foreshadowed, predicted or encouraged by Sexual Politics.’