What to Eroticize?

I’m just into the introduction of the first book I’m reading in the sex project: Erotic Justice: A Liberating Ethic of Sexuality by Marvin Ellison. I’ve been reminded of a difference of opinion I know I’ll have with a later book I’m rereading, and that I’ll apparently have with this book as well.

Many ethical frameworks that strive to be body-positive, liberating for all and egalitarian and nonviolent in nature (all characteristics I value) make the claim at some point that the eroticizing of domination and submission is part of the problem. I appreciate and value the issue that I think they’re trying to get at: namely, that the system of oppression within which we are all immersed seeks to wrap itself around our deepest well of power – our erotic nature – and distort that power in order to control us, shape our lives and maintain a toxic grip. It’s a primary way that the system perpetuates itself.

However, rather than naming BDSM (bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sado-masochism all in erotic contexts) as a reflection of the problem, as every published author that I’ve come across has done, I propose something very different instead. I have found in my own life that BDSM can be a dynamic tool for examining power and agency in our lives. BDSM, rather than only being a reflection of pathologies of power, can be an avenue to wholeness, nonviolence and egalitarian relationships. I am certain I will write more about this.

I look forward to seeing how these ideas unfold in my reading.

Published in: on February 4, 2011 at 3:04 am  Leave a Comment  


Hello and welcome!

Overall, this site will function as my primary presence online.  But the impetus to finally begin this centralized blog has come from a project I’ll be working on over the next few months.

Outside any particular academic context, I have some exploration I want to do on the topic of sexuality and ethics in a Christian context.  I have a pile of books I’ve selected as a survey of the literature: some I read long ago and others I haven’t yet read.  The books are:

Embodiment: An Approach to Sexuality and Christian Theology by James Nelson
The Erotic Word: Sexuality, Spirituality and The Bible by David Carr
Feast of Our Lives: Re-Imaging Communion by June Goudey
Erotic Justice: A Liberating Ethic of Sexuality by Marvin Ellison
Word’s Body: An Incarnational Aesthetic of Interpretation by Alla Bozarth
Touching Our Strength: The Erotic as Power and the Love of God by Carter Heyward
Exquisite Desire: Religion, The Erotic, and the Song of Songs by Carey Ellen Walsh
Sex Texts from the Bible by Teresa Hornsby

I will be posting reflections here as I go.  If anyone is interested in more direct interaction on any particular title, let me know and we can arrange something.

At the end of this reading and writing, I’ll create… something. It may be an academic paper, it may be a personal statement of sexual ethics. Hell, it may be a performance piece. I’m not sure yet which direction the creativity will flow, and I’m working on combining an academic focus with space to do some playful exploration. (This may also be some foundation-building to do further work in the area of BDSM and nonviolent ethics.)

I will keep you updated!

Published in: on February 1, 2011 at 3:52 am  Leave a Comment