Plastic sexuality: a modern sociologist on the effect of contraception
When directly bound up with reproduction, sexuality was a medium of transcendence. Sexual activity forged a tie with the finitude of the individual, and at the same time carried the promise of its irrelevance; for seen in relation to a cycle of generations, the individual life was part of a more embracing symbolic order. Sexuality for us still carries an echo of the transcendent. (Id. at 203)
“Effective contraception…[i]n combination with the other influences affecting family size… signaled a deep transition in personal life. For women – and in a partly different sense, for men also – sexuality became malleable…and a potential ‘property’ of the individual.”…“The creation of plastic sexuality, severed from its age-old integration with reproduction, kinship and the generations, was the precondition of the sexual revolution of the past several decades…. The breaking of these connections was thus a phenomenon with truly radical implications.” (Id. at 27, emphasis original).
A pure relationship has nothing to do with sexual purity…. It refers to a situation where a social relation is entered into for its own sake, for what can be derived by each person from a sustained association with another; and which is continued only in so far as it is thought by both parties to deliver enough satisfactions for each individual to stay within it. (Id. at 58)
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