Thirty years after its initial publication, The Sexual Contract remains a seminal work that challenges the standard view of the implications of the idea, deeply embedded in Western thought, that we should think of the state as if it were derived from an original contract. This idea lays the foundations for modern contract theory. In this book, leading feminist political theorist Carole Pateman revealed for the first time that we were only given half the story. The sexual contract that established men's patriarchal right over women has been glossed over, and no attention is paid to the problems that arise when women are excluded from the original contract but incorporated into the new contractual order.
Pateman's critique of the traditional social contract continues to be relevant to discussions about the marriage contract and the employment contract, as well as newer cases, such as the welfare contract and the environmental contract. With an updated preface by the author, this edition speaks to ever-important questions about freedom and subordination.