Regulating Sex: The Politics of Intimacy and Identity

By Elizabeth Bernstein; Laurie Schaffner | Go to book overview

Regulating Sex: An Introduction

ELIZABETH BERNSTEIN AND LAURIE SCHAFFNER

Writing about sexuality is like writing about last evening's news. By the time one's thoughts are formulated, they may seem hopelessly out of date-vis-à-vis the world at large or vis-à-vis one's own political convictions. In recent years, a vast array of social transformations falling under the broad banner of globalization have served to radically recraft not only economic activities, but also kin networks and paradigms of intimacy. While the spread of global capitalism has exacerbated social inequalities, fragmented families, and severed individuals from traditional social ties, it has also given rise to transnational feminist activism, a burgeoning lesbian-gaybisexual-transgender-queer (LGBTQ) movement, a renewed commitment to international human rights, and myriad new forms of eroticism and community. Within this context of cultural upheaval, the best means by which to advocate for sexual freedoms-while at the same time protecting vulnerable parties from violation-can be difficult to assess. 1

Bold and rapid transformations force a continual reevaluation of social and political questions, including those that have plagued us as scholars and activists working in the field of sexuality studies. Is the flourishing of sexual commerce one domain among others in an expanding global service economy, or the manifestation of gross inequalities of gender, class, race, and nation? Should the pursuit of marriage and other forms of legal domestic partnerships for same-sex couples be seen as a vital stepping stone toward civil rights and state recognition, or as assimilation to heteronormative ideals? Are children more in need of protection from sexual exploiters than of direction and encouragement in their quest for erotic forms of intimacy? The purpose of this volume is to address questions such

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