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I've been writing and giving talks about sex for over a decade now, and I often find it difficult to have truly stimulating conversation about it. I knew that having author and public intellectual Katherine Angel on the show would change that. Katherine is the author of the stunning work of vignettes on sex and fear and domination, Unmastered : A Book On Desire, Most Difficult To Tell, and Daddy Issues, which questions patriarchy by looking squarely at women's relationships with their fathers. Her book, Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again, will be out next year, and I'll definitely have her on then too.
Katherine and I go at sex and especially consent at so many different angles, uncovering all the problems in the way we discuss it. As it turns out, there are quite a few problems there, and I am so happy to have had this challenging conversation, and to share it with you.
(PS: sorry about the popping in the sound. Your contribution is going to pay for a few pop filters!)
ON THIS EPISODE
- How not knowing what we want needs to be a part of sexuality
- Why psychoanalysis is important for our conversation about consent
- Why every sexual encounter between two people is actually a threesome with whoever created the framework of consent
- Why consent is not a good foundation for sexual ethics
- How nonconsensual labor frameworks (ie needing to have a job) generate harassment and make sex the culprit
- How we always place the burden of clear expression on women
- How overemphasizing consent denies us our full humanity
- Why Katie Roiphie and Laura Kipnis don't get it
- Why listening to people is so important whether or not they were utterly violated, and even whether or not we believe or accept that they were.
- Words and pornography
- The false assumption that men are having "real" orgasms in porn, whereas the women are having "fake" ones
- How arousal is protective and the body doesn't express the truth anymore than the mind.
- Why we need Freud now more than ever
- The erotic fantasy of banning pornography
- Why desires have their own boundaries
• More on Katherine: Katherine teaches at University of London, and her book, Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again will be out next year. Here's an excerpt from it, "Sex And Self Knowledge: Beyond Consent". And here's Katherine speaking about #MeToo at the Freud Museum.
• Katherine mentions Joseph Fischel's book, Screw Consent: A Better Politics of Sexual Justice , which I am eager to read (and I'm also excited to have Joseph on the show!). Another good book on consent is Consent: Sexual Rights and the Transformation of American Liberalism by Pamela Haag.
• Here's a quick review of the sexual harassment case in Ireland involving a gay man and a woman.
• I've written about all the themes presented here before in the essay, "A Culture That's Sick About Sex Will Never Be Able To Stop Harassment And Abuse".
• Sara Schulman's book, Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair has come up on the show multiple times!
• The Leo Bersani quote is "There is a big secret about sex: most people don't like it."
• Katherine gives a shout out to Laurie Brotto and her book, Better Sex Through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire.
• AEWCH 34 about how arousal and desire are not the same thing, and how sex confronts materialism.
• For more on how children experience violation when they're sexually assaulted, read Susan Clancy's profound book, The Trauma Myth: The Truth About the Sexual Abuse of Children and Its Aftermath.
• I can't vouch for Carnal Resonance: Affect and Online Pornography by Susanna Paasonen yet, but I'm definitely going to read it if Katherine thinks it's worthwhile. And here's a link to Amia Srinivasan's article, "Does Anyone Have The Right To Sex?"
That's it for now, friends. Until next time, may you follow your desires!