This book traces the genealogy of ideas of reason, self and sexuality in the West, opening the way to a richer and more diverse understanding of sexual experience. Western philosophy and religion have distorted and continue to distort our experience of sex and love through three far-reaching constellations of reason, self and sexuality. Thinkers like Plato, Aquinas and Kant helped to fashion an ascetic ideal of reason hostile to bodily pleasures and sexual diversity. By contrast, philosophical hedonism advocates (...) a less demanding conception of rationality and defends sexual pleasure. But this approach of thinkers like Hume, Bentham, La Mettrie and de Sade is still one-sided and limiting. A third constellation, Romanticism avoids the limitations of both forms of rationalism, but in the name of a religion of love and passion that ultimately threatens the integrity of the self. In Reason and Sexuality in Western Thought, a richer understanding of sexual experience is traced to a dissident philosophical tradition. In their different ways Montaigne, Spinoza, Hegel and Kierkegaard, Marcuse and Foucault contribute to a more holistic, multi-layered and open conception of reason, sexuality and the self. This book will be essential reading for all students of philosophy and gender studies. (shrink)
A Sociology of Sex and Sexuality offers an historical sociological analysis of ideas about expressions of sexual desire, combining both primary and secondary historical and theoretical material with original research and popular imagery in the contemporary context. While some reference is made to the sexual ideology of Classical Antiquity and of early Christianity, the major focus of the book is on the development of ideas about sex and sexuality in the context of modernity. It questions the widespread assumption (...) that the anxieties and fears associated with old sexual mores have been overcome in the late twentieth century context, and asks whether the discourses of Queer sexual politics have successfully fractured the binary categories of heterosexuality and homosexuality. A Sociology of Sex and Sexuality will be of interest to students in the fields of sociology, sexual history, gender studies and cultural studies. (shrink)
The term queer has recently come into wide use to designate distinctive emphases in the politics and the intellectual study of sexuality. This article explores the unfortunate irony that most work falling under the rubric of queer theory has been undertaken largely at some remove from the discipline of sociology, despite the pioneering role that an earlier generation of sociologists played in formulating influential conceptions of the social construction of sexuality. The article suggests important continuities between the earlier (...) sociological theories and recent queer theory, but also analyzes the new challenges that queer theorists have posed by insisting on the indispensability of questions of sexual "marginality" to the larger understanding of social and cultural organization. The article concludes by suggesting how sociologists might engage with such a project. (shrink)
This paper outlines the main tenets of poststructuralism and considers how they are applied by practitioners of queer theory. Drawing on both Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida, queer theory explores the ways in which homosexual subjectivity is at once produced and excluded within culture, both inside and outside its borders. This approach is contrasted with more sociological studies of sexuality (labeling theory, social constructionism). Whereas queer theory investigates the relations between heterosexuality and homosexuality, sociologists tend to examine homosexual identities (...) and communities, paradoxically ignoring the social construction of heterosexuality. Poststructuralism can inform a sociological approach to sexuality by emphasizing the generative character of all sexual identities. A sociological study of sexuality which is informed by poststructuralism would examine the exclusions implicit in a heterosexual/homosexual opposition. In this process, bisexual and transgender identities can become viable cultural possibilities, and a broad-based political coalition established. Whereas mainstream sociology focuses on the ways in which homosexuals are outside social norms, and whereas queer theory exploits the ways in which this outside is already inside, this perspective suggests that a critical sexual politics seeks to move beyond an inside/outside model. (shrink)
Fundamentalist forms of religion today claim authority everywhere, including the debates over the politics and constitutional law of liberal democracies. This book examines this general question through its critical evaluation of a recent school of thought: that of the new natural lawyers. The new natural lawyers are the lawyers of the current Vatical hierarchy, polemically concerned to defend its retrograde views on matters of sexuality and gender in terms of arguments that, in fact, notably lack the philosophical rigor of (...) the historical Thomism they claim to honor. The book critiques forms of fundamentalism and offers an original argument both for how they arose and why they are unreasonable in contemporary circumstances. (shrink)
My essay is framed by Hypatia's first special issue on Motherhood and Sexuality at one end, and by the most recent special issue (as of this writing) on the work of Iris Young, whose work on pregnant embodiment has become canonical, at the other. The questions driving this essay are: When we look back over the last twenty-five years, what has changed in our conceptions of pregnancy and maternity, both in feminist theory and in popular culture? What aspects of (...) feminist debates from the 1970s and 1980s are still relevant today? And, how might what appear to be radical shifts in popular perceptions of pregnancy actually continue traditional values that objectify and “abjectify” the maternal body?Here, I will focus on three central elements of the revaluation of pregnancy and maternity as they show up in feminist philosophy and in popular culture: 1. The relationship between pregnancy and sexuality, both in terms of pregnant sexuality and in terms of the pregnant body as sexual object; 2. The “choice” to become a mother as a “feminist choice”; 3. The temporality of pregnancy and birth as marking something like “women's time.”. (shrink)
This essay brings to bear insights from continental philosophers Michel Foucault and Judith Butler on the science of (homo)sexuality and, more importantly, the desire to use such science to resolve contemporary conflicts over homosexuality’s acceptability. So-called queer science remains deeply beholden to modern notions of sex, gender, and sexuality, the author argues, a schematic that its premodern (Christian) roots further denaturalize. The philosophical insights drawn from this analysis are then applied to the controversy over homosexuality within global Christianity (...) that often pits the backward former colonies against the modern west. (shrink)
Exploring the idea of knowledge as embodied, engendered and embedded in place and space, gender and sexuality are re-examined through the methodological and conceptual lenses of cartography, fieldwork, resistance, transgression and the divisions between local/global and public/private space. BodySpace brings together some of the best known geographers writing on gender and sexuality today to explore the role of space and place in the performance of gender and sexuality. The book takes a broad perspective on feminism as a (...) theoretical critique, and aims to reassess notions of sexuality, citizenship, work, violence, "race" and disability in their geographical contexts. (shrink)
People in the ancient world thought of vision as both an ethical tool and a tactile sense, akin to touch. Gazing upon someone—or oneself—was treated as a path to philosophical self-knowledge, but the question of tactility introduced an erotic element as well. In The Mirror of the Self , Shadi Bartsch asserts that these links among vision, sexuality, and self-knowledge are key to the classical understanding of the self. Weaving together literary theory, philosophy, and social history, Bartsch traces this (...) complex notion of self from Plato’s Greece to Seneca’s Rome. She starts by showing how ancient authors envisioned the mirror as both a tool for ethical self-improvement and, paradoxically, a sign of erotic self-indulgence. Her reading of the Phaedrus , for example, demonstrates that the mirroring gaze in Plato, because of its sexual possibilities, could not be adopted by Roman philosophers and their students. Bartsch goes on to examine the Roman treatment of the ethical and sexual gaze, and she traces how self-knowledge, the philosopher’s body, and the performance of virtue all played a role in shaping the Roman understanding of the nature of selfhood. Culminating in a profoundly original reading of Medea , The Mirror of the Self illustrates how Seneca, in his Stoic quest for self-knowledge, embodies the Roman view, marking a new point in human thought about self-perception. Bartsch leads readers on a journey that unveils divided selves, moral hypocrisy, and lustful Stoics—and offers fresh insights about seminal works. At once sexy and philosophical, The Mirror of the Self will be required reading for classicists, philosophers, and anthropologists alike. (shrink)
: This paper investigates the mutual embeddedness of "nature" and "culture," as well as the intersections between race, gender, and sexuality, in the story of the HeLa cell line as viewed by a practicing feminist scientist. It provides a feminist analysis of the scientific discourse surrounding the HeLa cell line, and explores how feminist theories of science can provide a constructive and critical lens through which laboratory scientists can view their work.
Many feminists have found inspiration in Donna Haraway's myth of the cyborg (1990). From the standpoint of feminist bisexual identity, however, I contend that this myth evades the very issues of race and sexuality which it seems to be addressing. I examine the uses of a bisexual standpoint for a more concrete, situated approach to theorizing sexuality, arguing that reflection on racial identities must be incorporated as well.
In this paper, I provide an analysis of the emergence of “problematic of alien sexuality.” I first locate discourses about “alien sexuality,” and the so-called anchor baby in particular, within other national discourses surrounding maternity, the fetus, and citizenship. I analyze the ways that national political discourses surrounding “anchor babies” and “alien maternity” construct the “problematic of alien sexuality,” thus constituting the “alien” subject as always-already perverse. I suggest that this production of a sexually deviant and threatening (...) “alien” subject functions in the normative dichotomy that places the sexually pure citizen on the one hand, and the perverse anticitizen on the other, in what I call “backwards uncitizening.” My analysis of this process shows that the perverse “alien” subject, as constituted in significant part by nonjuridical normalizing mechanisms of biopower, resists the juridical discourse that is supposed to determine it. (shrink)
In theological discourse of sexuality, queer theory has often been regarded as an extension of the project of gay and lesbian liberation, when it actually challenges an organizing value of the entire discourse, because it challenges any ascription of ultimate value to “sex,” an imaginative formation of power relations. Rather than appeal to God to authorize the privileged status of sex, queer commentary suggests that theological writers should refuse assertions of the absolute importance of any particular formation of human (...) imagination as a basis of relation between self and God. The goal is to recognize the violence—symbolized and real—that enforces the worth of certain imaginations of intelligibly sexed personal identity and stunts the formation of alternative imaginations of intelligible personal identity. Critical account of this violence as sentimental-homicidal-suicidal opens space to confess a theological discourse of personal identities that is entirely beyond sex. (shrink)
The practice of confessing one's sexual sins has historically provided boys and men with mixed messages. Engaging in coercive sex is publicly condemned; yet it is treated as not significantly different from other transgressions that can be easily forgiven. We compare Catholic confessional practices to those of psychoanalytically oriented male writers on masculinity. We argue that the latter is no more justifiable than the former, and propose a progressive confessional mode for discussing male sexuality.
I argue that Spinoza’s account of appetition, and its application to human sexuality, is more original than many commentators suggest; and that it offers resolutions to several puzzles in the philosophy of sex. The paper first situates these puzzles in contemporary debates, offers a detailed analysis of Spinoza’s remarks on love in general and sexual love in particular, and concludes with some of the normative consequences which Spinoza attempts to derive from these.
The last decade has seen the transformation of the study of sexuality from a marginalized effort to a fully respected discipline at many major universities. There are numerous publications devoted solely to the topic and queer theory, a force to be reckoned with, has its own celebrities. Nonetheless, queer studies is considered to be the brainchild of the humanities, with the social sciences slowly coming around to apply its principles to empirical research. Long, Slow Burn, a powerful collection of (...) essays by Kath Weston, argues that social science has been talking about sex all along; to deny this one would have to overlook Kinsey's pioneering sex research in the 1950s, or the psychiatrist Evelyn Hooker's pathbreaking study of homosexuality, but also in the "sex talk" that lies at the heart of classic debates on kinship, inequality, cognition, and other foundational topics in the social sciences. What is different now, Weston claims, is the way sexuality has been isolated from other contemporary issues. Long, Slow Burn lays out a radically different approach to the study of sexuality. Not content with its ghettoization as a contained subfield, Weston refuses to draw an artificial line around sexuality. Her essays do not attempt to make sexuality a discrete object of study. Rather, each essay "sexes up" a conventional subject, such as kinship, race or labor, proving that once you start paying attention to sexuality, you can never look at social issues in the same way again. Long, Slow Burn offers an intervention, an attempt to see sexuality as it permeates the multiple fibers of our social fabric. It demonstrates that sexuality has always been a part of the social sciences, but more importantly, is the key to their future. (shrink)
In this essay, I offer an interpretation of J. G. Fichte’s account of human sexuality and its relation to sexual inequality and social justice and apply this interpretation to contemporary questions about gender, equality and justice. According to my interpretation of Fichte, sexual intercourse provides a primary natural relationship—initiated by woman—wherein human beings cultivate their capacities for communication or reciprocal influence by expressing desires guided by both feeling and reason. Thus, the interchange of sexual love and solicitude is the (...) original basis for all other social skills and ultimately for any form of social justice. (shrink)
This is a review essay that also serves as an introduction to the other essays in the issue. It discusses feminist theory's relation to Freud, feminist ethical questions on motherhood and sexuality, the historical question of how systems of socially constructed sexual desire connect to male dominance, the question of the role of the body in feminist theory, and disputes within feminism on self, gender, agency and power.
If Augustine's view of human sexuality is to be understood properly, it must be represented across the history of creation, fall and redemption. His notion of sexuality prior to the fall, although defective in its understanding of personal bodily presence, does integrate sexuality into the essentially human. His account of fallen sexuality expresses not a body-soul dualism but a disordering of the self which finds a partial and redemptive remedy in the "goods of marriage." His treatment (...) of sexuality in relation to redemption-in-course has a distinctively historical dimension that must be respected if sexuality is not to be left merely to the endless rhythms of nature, but drawn into the human story in its Christian telling. (shrink)
This anthology of contemporary articles (and court cases provides a philosophical analysis of race, sex and gender concepts and issues. Divided into three relatively independent yet thematically linked sections, the anthology first addresses identity issues, then injustices and inequalities, and then specific social and legal issues relevant to race, sex and gender. By exposing readers to both theoretical foundations, opposing views, and "real life" applications, the anthology prepares them to make critically reasoned decisions concerning today's race, gender and sex social (...) issues. Sex and Gender Identity. Sexuality and Sexual Orientation. Race and Ethnicity. Racism. Sexism. Heterosexism and Homophobia. Equality and Preferential Treatment. Discriminatory Harassment. Identity Speech and Political Speech. Sexual Speech. Sexual Assault. For anyone interested in the philosophical underpinnings of today's Race, Sex, and Gender issues. (shrink)
Abstract Because norms related to sexuality are an important determinant of the nature of society, sexuality education in schools is the subject of passionate debate. This discourse reflects a struggle between Restrictive and Permissive sexual ideologies. These ideologies compete for influence in shaping sexuality education. As a result, some sexuality education programmes constitute ideological indoctrination. Many other programmes, because of the ideological conflict surrounding sexuality, omit important sexual health information. The objective of this paper is (...) to articulate the basic parameters of a democratic philosophy of sexuality education. The aim of this philosophy is to accommodate ideological pluralism related to sexuality while simultaneously ensuring that educational programmes provide the necessary information and skills to facilitate the human right to sexual health. Based on Rawls? (1993) theory of political liberalism, this philosophy proposes that sexuality education ought to be centred upon the overlapping consensus within a democracy on the right to freedom of belief. In contrast to many prevailing forms of sexuality education, it is contended that a democratic educational approach must facilitate the ability to deliberate critically between competing ideological perspectives on sexuality. The Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education are offered as an example of a democratic philosophy of sexuality education. In conclusion, evidence is provided to suggest that parents support a democratic approach to sexuality education. (shrink)
Abstract This paper suggests that sexuality education needs to take into account the myths by which teachers educate and students learn. Here myth is understood as a narrative, paradigm or vision. The paper does not argue against myth. Rather, it argues that myth or narrative provides a much needed depth dimension to sexuality education. It does argue, however, that the existing myths serve sexuality education poorly. The final section of the paper proposes three narratives which provide rich (...) alternatives to the dominant myth. (shrink)
In this essay I examine the history of the sexuality debates among feminists. In both the nineteenth century and the recent sexuality debates the personal is taken to be foundational for a political stance, while simultaneously the debates transform feminist understandings of the extent to which the personal is political. I suggest that this transformation undermines the epistemological assumptions of the debates, resulting in a feminism that cannot be radical.
This paper aims to deal with the change of sexual discourse through the rise of a feminist movement in Korea from a constructivist point of view. First, the paper discusses the Confucianism of the Chosun dynasty as an historical background of the issue of sexuality (since Confucianism still has a far-reaching grip and effect on many aspects of everyday life in Korea). Second, it deals with chastity ideology and the double standard of sexuality between men and women as (...) ongoing Confucian sexual discourses. Third, it focuses on three themes: (1) the change from sex for procreation to sex for pleasure, (2) the change from genitally-oriented sexuality to intimacy- or relationship-oriented sexuality, and (3) the change from a woman as a sexual object to a sexual subject as part of the changes of sexual discourses. Fourth, it tries to show clashes and/or alliances between the Confucian and feminist discourses on sexuality, which make up the process of the social construction of sexuality. This shows that sexuality is a socio-historical construction in Korea as elsewhere. (shrink)
This paper investigates the way in which the sexuality of women has been posited in relation to rats as experimental subjects, exploring the stakes of a scientific debate that takes the social world of female sexuality as its focus and as a political problem. Studies that purport to understand female sexuality by investigating rat behavior rely on problematic assumptions about sovereign agents motivating sexual behavior. Such studies also aim to do away with so-called deviant sexual behaviors and, (...) as a consequence, gay people. Theories of agential realism and hybridity serve as counterforces to these inherently repressive perspectives by insisting on the multiple determinations of sexuality and subjectivity among women. (shrink)
Introduction : critical ethics, or, the subject of reform -- An ethics of Gesellschaft -- The "new ethic" : a particularist challenge -- Conflicted sexualities and conflicted secularisms -- Global influences, local responses -- Moral laws and impossible laws : the "female homosexual" and the Criminal Code -- Social matters : social democracy and the ethics of materialism -- Losses and unlikely legacies : psychoanalysis and femininity -- Afterword : moral citizenship, or, ethics beyond the law.
: Hundreds of thousands of students in introductory human sexuality classes read textbooks whose covert ideology reinforces dominant heteronormative narratives of sexual dimorphism, male hegemony, and heteronormativity. As such, the process of scientific discovery that proposes to provide description of existing sexual practices, identities, and physiologies instead succeeds in cultural prescription. This essay provides a feminist, queer content analysis of such textbooks to illuminate their implicit narratives and provide suggestions for writing more feminist, queer-friendly texts.
Brick, Lisa Sexuality education should assist young people to develop their full potential. Its effectiveness depends on its being age and development appropriate, and involving teachers or educators who are well trained and living what they teach.
Preface and acknowledgments -- Prelude -- 1. Gender, sexuality, and meaning: An overview -- Part I. Politics and scholarship: 2. Language and gender -- 3. Feminism in linguistics -- 4. Difference and language: A linguist's perspective -- Part II. Social practice, social meanings, and selves: 5. Communities of practice: Where language, gender, and power all live -- 6. Intonation in a man's world -- 7. Constructing meaning, constructing selves: Snapshots of language, gender, and class from Belten High -- Part (...) III. Constructing content in discourse: 8. The sexual reproduction of meaning: A discourse-based theory -- 9. Prototypes, pronouns, and persons -- 10. What's in a name?: Social labeling and gender practices -- 11. Queering semantics: Definitional struggles -- Coda: 12. Breaking through the 'glass ceiling': Can linguistic awareness help? (shrink)
McGavin, PA A constant theme of modern pontificates has been to keep in focus the central generative purpose of human sexuality and its full expression in the marriage relationship. While it is essential to keep this central focus, it nevertheless is necessary to sustain an attitude of 'discovery' in re-examining fundamental issues. This essay proposes such an approach in moving to a more nuanced catechetical reading of human sexuality as this particularly touches on the issue of masturbation.
Clinical psychologists' and nonpsychiatric physicians' attitudes and behaviors in sexual and confidentiality boundary violations were examined. The 171 participants' responses were analyzed by profession, sex, and status (student, resident, professional) on semantic differential, boundary violation vignettes, and a version of Pope, Tabachnick, and Keith-Spiegel's (1987) ethical scale. Psychologists rated sexual boundary violation as more unethical than did physicians (p<.001). Rationale (p<.01) and timing (p<.001) influenced ratings. Psychologists reported fewer sexualized behaviors than physicians (p<05). Professional experience (p<.01) and sex (p<.05) were (...) associated with confidence-violating behavior. Overall, 78% of the sample reported attitudes or behaviors associated with boundary violations. The behavior violations were correlated (r=.49). Actual violators rated vignette violators more leniently than did nonviolators (p<.01). (shrink)
Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is prohibited in South Africa. Against legal gains, however, are marked increases in homophobic violence. Schools are deeply implicated in the development of a moral education premised on democracy and sexual equality. This paper sought to examine the ways in which parents situated within diverse social contexts define, regulate and entrench the right to sexual equality, analyzing their implications for moral education in schools. The data were derived through an interview-based study of 17 (...) parents of learners across five secondary schools in two provinces in the country. Hetero-morality was found to be particularly powerful limiting the rights of gays and lesbians. The social and cultural processes through which hetero-morality is upheld reproduce negative outcomes for gays and lesbians. Despite this, the paper finds that parents are capable of engendering support for sexual justice and building alliances with schools to promote a new version of morality. The paper presents further warrant for working with parents in the development of moral education premised upon sexual rights. (shrink)
I argue on utilitarian grounds that while traditional constraints on heterosexual activity, including the prohibition of pre-marital sex and divorce may be justified by appeal to purely secular principles, no comparable prohibitions are justified as regards homosexual activity. Homosexuality is in this respect.
In the Indian philosophical tradition Arjuna stands out as a major representative of an important ethical and intellectual position, as Socrates stands out in the West. While the cultural contexts of the views of Arjuna and Socrates differ significantly, their views on the axiological status of the physical body have much in common. As an exercise in comparative thought in the area of “the philosophy of the body”, much can be gained through a comparison of the corpological views of these (...) two venerable characters as they are depicted in circumstances that ctystalise their teachings, i.e. in their 'trials': Arjuna as he stands before Krsna just prior to the great battle narrated in the Mah bh rata and Socrates as he sits with his beloved friend Crito just prior to his day of execution. (shrink)
Drawing on The Psychic Life of Power (Butler 1997), this essay sketches the outline of Butler's project of bringing Foucault (politics) and Lacan (psychoanalysis) together. In addressing the psychic life of power, Butler tries to unravel the dynamic interplay of the psychic and the social with the subject as the intersection of both.
The Philosopher Queen: Feminist Essays on War, Love, and Knowledge. By Chris Cuomo. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2003. The Philosopher Queen is a powerful illustration of what Cherríe Moraga calls a "theory in the flesh." That is, theorizing from a place where "physical realities of our lives—our skin color, the land or concrete we grow up on, our sexual longings—all fuse to create a politic [and, I would add, an ethics, spirituality, and epistemology] born out of necessity" (...) (Moraga 21). Cuomo's theory in the flesh combines standard philosophical essays with personal narratives and invites us to do philosophy from this joyful and witty place. Readers are invited to reframe and reexamine war, science, gender, sexuality, race, ecology, knowledge, and politics in a voice that is fearless, funny, faithful, and feminist—one that disrupts common understandings of how philosophy ought to be done. Instead philosophy should help us to "negotiate a wild, wicked world, and to provide some understanding of being and existence. The best philosophy aims to promote good and to produce knowledge, and therefore enable flourishing" (xi). Accepted philosophical approaches alone are inadequate. Life's challenges resist formulaic solutions. Knowledge is not always produced through neat deductions: truths are partial, power divides, stomachs growl, hearts are broken, and emotions influence... (shrink)
: This essay relates scenes from Beauvoir's novels to her views of female eroticism and frigidity in The Second Sex. Expressions of frigidity signal unjust power relations in Beauvoir's literature. She constructs frigidity as a symbolic means of rejecting dominance in heterosexual relations. Thus frigidity need not be interpreted, as it sometimes is, as a form of bad faith. The essay concludes with some thoughts on the relevance of Beauvoir's view of frigidity to contemporary feminism.