The Contradictions of Love: Towards a feminist-realist ontology of sociosexuality offers a robust and multifaceted theoretical account of how, in contemporary western societies, women continue to be subordinated to men through sexual love. The book defends and elaborates Anna G. Jónasdóttir’s thesis that men tend to exploit women of their ‘love power’, by means of an innovative application of critical realism, dialectical critical realism and the philosophy of metaReality. Gunnarsson also offers a critique of the state of affairs of contemporary feminist theory.
The author demonstrates that the meta-theoretical framework of critical realism offers the tools that can counter the poststructuralist hegemony still prevailing in feminist theory. On a general level, The Contradictions of Love attempts at reconciling theoretical positions which tend to appear in opposition to one another. In particular, it offers a way of bridging the gap between the notion of love as a locus of exploitation and that of love as a force which can conquer oppression.
This book is a unique and timely contribution in the field of feminist theory, in that it offers the first elaborate assessment and development of Jónasdóttir’s important but relatively sidestepped work, and in that it counters poststructuralist trends from the point of view of a robust critical realist framework that has hitherto been spectacularly absent in feminist theory, although it offers solutions to metatheoretical problems at the forefront of feminist debates; in the field of critical realism broadly defined, in that it elaborates on crucial ontological themes of (dialectical) critical realism and the philosophy of metaReality via a discussion of the issues of love, sexuality, gender and power; and finally, in the field of love studies, in that it offers a sophisticated account of how gender asymmetries prevail in love despite norms of gender equality and reciprocity, and in that it reconciles feminist, conflict-oriented perspectives on love with notions of love as transcending conflict.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction PART I: FEMINIST THEORIES OF GENDER, SEXUALITY AND POWER 2. Catharine MacKinnon and the completeness of male power 3. Judith Butler and the deconstruction of reality 4. Anna G. Jónasdóttir and the organic roots of power PART II: META-THEORETICAL INTERLUDE 5. Feminist theory and nature 6. Women and men as theoretical categories PART III: ELABORATIONS 7. Loving him for who he is: the microsociology of power 8. Love – exploitable resource or ‘no-lose situation’? 9. Men in love: containing contradictions, repressing reality 10. Conclusion
Lena Gunnarsson is a researcher in the Department of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences at Örebro University, Sweden.
'Lena Gunnarsson manages to achieve both an intelligent critique of heterosexual love, and a vindication of heterosexual love, by analysing women’s unique characteristics and experience through the lens of critical realism. Her detailed explanation of contemporary western heterosexual relationships provides her with a strong basis from which to argue for a feminist activism based on women’s agency and a reconception of some of our most deeply held assumptions about love... I would recommend this book to anyone concerned to nurture equality in their own romantic relationships.'— Leigh Price, Journal of Critical Realism