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Beyond Sexual Fundamentalism: The Call for an Ethical Eroticism

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In a culture whose sexual mores have been influenced largely by Christian teaching, sex is typically presumed guilty until proven innocent. This essay explores the cultural roots of this sex negativity, analyzes the contemporary crisis in sexuality, and proposes a progressive sex ethic that is sex-positive, respectful of sexual diversity, and responsive to sexual abuse and exploitation. Renewal of sexual ethics requires a break with sexual fundamentalism—the notion that there is a singular, ideal sexuality (heterosexual, marital, procreative) and that those conforming to this standard have a right to police and control others. In contrast, a justice framework is developed to promote an ethical eroticism that values the bodily integrity of every person and honors the variety of ways in which people live sexually whole, morally responsible lives.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2001

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