September 18, 2009

Stoetzler: Imagining a sexuality that is free to recreate itself

Marcel Stoetzler has published a fascinating article in Mute Magazine: When Nothing is Produced.

The article is largely about the ways in which gender, sex and sexuality have been co-opted and reframed since the times of the industrial revolution. Stoetzler argues that bourgeois society has reduced sexuality to the logic of (re)production, resulting in a series of rigid dichotomies. In the end, he rejects this sexual dimorphism and the gay/straight split to imagine a sexuality that is free to recreate itself.

Stoetzler writes:
It appears that thinking about sexuality has always been fundamentally shaped by the obvious but perplexing way in which the sexual act confounds, or burdens, lust with procreation. It is easy to see that lust would, certainly in the minds of philosophers, tend to inhabit the realm of freedom and spirit, procreation that of necessity and matter. This cannot but reverberate with the social fact that the concepts ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are similarly charged. The conceptual dichotomy of nature and spirit, matter and form is rooted in ‘the wish to escape nature on which though, one’s life depends’. The crucial contribution of homosexuality to the history of human emancipation lies in its unequivocal assertion of the purposelessness of sexuality...the homosexual becomes ‘the portent of a sexuality alienated from its proper purpose’. To ‘alienate’ sexuality from its alleged purpose – procreation – is, however, the whole point of its emancipation...If, however, the emancipation of sexuality can only mean its alienation from what society claims is its purpose, gender dimorphism, too, loses in the process its real basis. ‘Woman as an alleged natural being is a product of history which denaturizes her’. ‘Male logic’...refers to women only as representatives of a species that in turn is alleged to represent ‘nature’. Therewith it denies the ‘naturalness’ of any particular woman which consists – to the extent that meaningful use of the term ‘naturalness’ is possible at all – in her individuality, in the sense that individuality is any individual’s identity against his or her identification.
Read the entire article.

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