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Talk about it, yes; argue over it, most definitely. There were, Srinivasan concedes, good reasons for this shift. But by focusing so narrowly on the matter of consentfeminism may have lost its purchase on some other fundamental issues. This is, needless to say, fraught terrain, and Srinivasan tre it with determination and skill.

She also makes space for ambivalence, for idiosyncrasy, for autonomy and choice. These essays are works of both criticism and imagination.

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Srinivasan refuses to resort to straw men; she will lay out even the most specious argument clearly and carefully, demonstrating its emotional power, even if her ultimate intention is to dismantle it. The essay proceeds to make a of turns — bringing in the long history of lynching and false rape accusations against Black men; the unequal application of the law; an of the sympathy extended to Brock Turner the Stanford swimmer convicted of sexual assault and to the Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Srinivasan persuasively argues that anxiety about false accusations in the era of MeToo reflects a larger anxiety, having only partly to do with sex at all. This, then, is a book that explicitly addresses intersectionality, even if Srinivasan is dissatisfied with the common — and reductive — understanding of the term. Srinivasan places the most vulnerable people at the center of her analysis, insisting that any action has to be judged in terms of its effect on them.

When it comes to politics, radicalism and pragmatism might seem to be entirely at odds, but Srinivasan dares us to see how they need to be connected. Radicalism without pragmatism can be coercive; pragmatism without radicalism can be complacent. She tries to reconcile the two — not by settling into a blithe centrism, but by suggesting that in the worthy urge to be respectful of individual differences and decisions, feminism cannot lose sight of the larger structures of subordination.

Srinivasan has written a compassionate book. She has also written a challenging one. She describes how her students surprise her with their receptivity to the arguments of second-wave anti-porn feminists, like Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon. On the free porn sites, desires get nudged by online algorithms, becoming ever more extreme more orifices, more participants in one sense, while becoming more conformist invariably shaped by big corporations in another.

Some anti-porn feminists placed their hopes in legislation, but Srinivasan asks whether the blunt force of the law would be effective in the internet age, much less desirable. Against the power of the algorithm is the power of education — and not the kind that simply dispenses rules, futilely trying to counter the images of porn with wholesome curriculums. Instead, Srinivasan proposes the kind of education enacted in this brilliant, rigorous book.

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She coaxes our imaginations out of the well-worn grooves of the existing order.

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