Sunday, January 31, 2016

On sexual freedom

Beverly Harrison said, "If greater genital expression were really the solution to our social miseries, we would expect ours to be the happiest society around.
" What would make us a happier society? Rod Dreher said that sexual liberation can go too far: "Liberals believe that what consenting adults do in bed with their bodies is immune from moral judgment. Social conservatives recognize the falsity of this view, understanding that immoderation in sexual matters corrupts individual character and can have deleterious social consequences." Mary Daly, on the other side, suggested that sexual liberation in itself does not go far enough: "The lifting of taboos on genital sexuality does nothing to liberate from sex roles.

Alan Watts reflected that this may be the wrong question to ask. Since sex is not entirely good nor entirely evil in itself, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to whether and how it should be permitted.

"But if puritanism and cultivated licentiousness are not fundamental deviations from nature, they are simply the opposite poles of one and the same attitude – that, right or wrong, sexual pleasure is the great delight....When sexuality is set apart as a specially good or specially evil compartment of life, it no longer works in full relation to everything else. In other words, it loses universality. It becomes a part doing duty for the whole – the idolatry of a creature worshipped in place of God, and an idolatry committed as much by the ascetic as the libertine."

People take sex differentiation most seriously when they have sex, wrote John Stoltenberg, "as if their identities or lives depended on it. For males, generally, it tends to be their identities; for females, often, it is more a matter of their lives."
 Elizabeth Abbot wrote that many sex therapists "say (or they mean), in Carolyn Gage's bitter words, 'We just want to help you get to the place where you will want to fuck,' instead of the words that would begin to heal a woman's chronic pain: 'You don't have to fuck. You never have to fuck.'"


Beverly Harrison, quoted by Judith Plaskow, Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1990. p 206.

Rod Dreher in The American Conservative. Quoted in The Week, Sept. 28, 2012.

Alan Watts, Nature, Man, and Woman, p 156-7

Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation. Boston: Beacon Press, 1973. p 176.

John Stoltenberg. Refusing to Be a Man: Essays on Sex and Justice. New York: Meridian, 1989. p 28.

Elizabeth Abbot. A History of Celibacy. Da Capo Press, 2001 (originally 1999). p 414.

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