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tv   After Words  CSPAN  September 5, 2022 1:00pm-2:01pm EDT

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my own internalized misogyny and realizing how we all exists on the spectrum of compromise. >> watch the full pardon him online anytime at slash tv. just search for emily wretch because. >> up next on top tv's author interview program, afterwards christine amara offers -- she's interviewed by author don afraid is. afterwards is a weekly interview program with relevant guesthouse interviewing top non fiction about their latest work. hi christine and congratulations on your new book, rethinking sex. i'm really excited to talk with you
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today about. my first question for you is just why did you decide to write this book? i would like to understand what went into to your thinking when you decided to take on this project? >> donna, first, thank you so much for having me here to talk about this. i know we have had previous conversations on the topic around your own book. it is exciting to have this meeting of minds, i suppose. why did i decide to write rethinking sex? i am an opinion columnist at the washington post. my thing has always been ideas in society. i have always been addressing questions of reality, culture, ethics, just the way -- i was writing a number of columns during the me too movement of 2016 and 2017. it became clear that with the most high-profile cases, weinstein, et cetera, there were problems we thought that the feminist movements may have solved until that were still present. more than that,
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it came to light these cases that were not so clear, cases of sex that were not necessarily on consensual but consensual, yet still bad, degrading, traumatizing. so many women are related to these stories. series like cat person a piece of short fiction still the most red piece of short fiction ever. there was a general sense, among young people, people my age, my peers and colleagues, that something was off in our sexual culture. the me too movement highlighted it, but there is something much more personal going on and, to. so many people were having sex that they were supposed to enjoy but weren't. i wanted to figure out why. what was happening? was there something wrong with our definition of consent? something off about our definition of what sex was? was there something off about our cultural understanding about what surrounded sex? i kept writing columns about this. actually writing longer
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pieces, then finally there was enough to write a book on. this is where that began. >> i feel like you just touched on all of the different topics that i want to ask you more about. i do want to -- you mentioned a whole list of possibilities about what is off with what is going on with sex. especially with young people. i am wondering, is there something that really rises to the top for you about what is off? >> well, one of the threads that runs through rethinking se the most is the question of consent. i feel that we have arrived at a moment in time, again, post sexual revolution, post feminist movement, post-college education plans to talk about how you have to respect that only no means no and yes means yes. to have consent. we have also established content as a dividing line between good sex and bad sex. consent is a
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floor. it is a non negotiable baseline, but it was never meant to be a stealing. we spent a lot of time talking about whether sex is ostensibly consensual, that is, legal. we don't talk about enough whether sex is good. meaning ethically good, morally good, good for the person having it, good for the encounter and what it creates and society at large. there seems to be a space missing there. people know not to do the worst thing, but there is a lack of clarity about what the better think should be in what we should actually be aiming for. we talk about legality all the time, but talking about ethics? morals? how people really feel? >> there is actually a passage from your book that really struck me. it is related to what you were just talking
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about and i wanted to read it and have you respond to it. i keep going back to it as i look at your book. you say, even the newer, qualified version of the consent, the end affirmative, enthusiastic. still to have that as their baseline question, did i get permission of the right kind so that what i am going to do to this person is not statedly against their will. modifiers may try to complicate the question, but they are most often perceived as shifting the goalpost. rather than stopping when your partner says no, you now have to get them to say yes. the end goal is still to get the sex from someone else without having committed a natural violation. if we invoke just getting consent as an ideal,
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the ideal, the highest ethical standard for any encounter, we are giving ourselves a past from the hard but meaningful questions. whether that consent was fairly garden, what our partners want, what whether we should be doing what we got consent to do. we go on to talk about how in the end consent is a legal criteria, not unethical one. i was wondering if you could say more about that. the idea that our conversation around consent seem to have moved us towards the idea that, as long as you get a yes, then everything is fine. that this is the goal. so, yeah, can you say more? >> yeah. i think that is one of the key passages of the book, one that i quote very frequently. later on in that page, i have a copy of my book with me here to, i say, non consensual sex is always wrong, but the inverse is tricky. is consensual sex always right? not necessarily. can consensual sex be damaging to an individual, to their partner, their society? absolutely. it is hard to look at our sexual
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marketplace and say that consent has fixed the problems of sex. in some ways it is a fig leaf that is falling off. i think that consent has, in some ways, made our conversation about what sex should look like. about what good looks like, a lot smaller. i quote, later on in the book, george town feminist law professor robin west whose work was really influential for me. she talks about the idea that consent is beginning to serve almost a legitimating function when it comes to sex. there is this idea that we make agreements based on consent, the kind of contractual question. once something is consented to, consent sort of legitimize the action. we have seen that anything that is consented to must then be, you know, good. or fine, that we are getting something out of it. when that happens with sex, something that you have consented to you feel like it
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should be good there is no space to talk about what might also be happening. whether something has gone wrong, post consent. what it actually means to be doing the thing that you have consented to do. that has led to problems, socially, i think for many women and men for these encounters that they may have consented to but they still don't feel good about. yet they don't have recourse to complain, they don't have anything that they can say to sort of explain their discontent because, theoretically, they have legitimate their act by consenting to it. i think there can be a lot of pain and hurt in there. also, big questions that end up swept under the rug because you consented to something, again, doesn't mean that it good, doesn't mean it's good for society at large. we
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sort of lose the ability to interrogate sex more fully. what do we want? why do we want what we want? what would be good for us to want, in some sense. >> it is interesting to hear you talk about this. in my own work, you know, i have sort of seen our conversations about consent as ideally, they open a door for us to talk more expansively about the meaning of sex. what seems to be happening is they have narrowed the way we are thinking about sex, which is what you are describing here. i think one of the things we have thought of a lot about, that i thought so much about reading your book, is why is it so hard for us to talk about the meaning of sex or to allow us to attach meaning to sex? >> yeah. this was a phenomenon that i observed over and over in talking to people about sex. for this book aided dozens of
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interviews with young men, young women, across the u.s. and other countries, too. there was this -- first of all, i would say people were very excited, more excited than i would have guessed to have someone to have this conversation with. to be able to talk, sort of openly, about their feelings about what they thought sex meant. what they wanted it to mean, what they hoped for and how they were being disappointed in some ways. there was no real reluctance in some ways to admit that sex was meaningful. or rather, not over elections to admit it. when i would ask people out right, what is next to you? what does it mean? what do you want from it? they talked about big things. they talked about intimacy, transcendence, the desire for carrying love. they felt almost
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sheepish about it. about saying that they wanted it to mean something because they felt so much cultural pressure to say that it meant nothing. that they were collecting experiences. a young woman told me that she sort of struggled with this question because she wanted to be kind of a good, modern, liberated person into her that meant that she should be hooking up with abandon. she should be having as much sex as she can have because she was in her twenties and that's what it was for, right? that she should be cool about it. that she should be chill, it shouldn't mean that much. yet it did. it did mean a lot to her. she was hurt by encounters that were supposed to be meaningless and feel good, she felt embarrassed talking about that. in some sense a part of this book is just a legitimating question for me, saying it's not crazy for you to feel that way. you
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are not the crazy one for thinking something meaningful is meaningful. that you have feelings about something that creates feelings. we should be able to talk about that if we actually want to address the current problems with sex. >> that makes me think so much about shame and, for the last 20 years i've been having conversations similar to yours with college students about these issues. one of the things i have also found is that there is this shame in talking about how people will say, i know i'm not supposed to care, but i do care. there is an embarrassment that they can't seem to not care. this has been going on for 20 years i've been hearing this conversation and you are clearly hearing that to. one of the ironies i see in that expression of shame is that we are supposed to be so liberated
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around sex, yeah we are so -- i feel that the shame has shifted elsewhere. the shame that we ex fetus experience is not from when we have, actually used to be. it is because we actually have feelings about the sex we are having and embarrassed to admit this. i wonder if you could comment a little bit about that. we have a shot chapter called we are liberated and miserable. i wonder if that resonates with what you, what i just said, in regards that chapter. >> no, completely. there is a chapter called we are liberated and miserable, within the app chapter after that is we want to catch feelings. what you're saying makes so much sense to me, actually. there is kind of this feeling that post sexual revolution, with the advances that the feminist movement has made, very important advances, to be clear. the boundaries around sex had fallen. the barriers to happen good sex
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were finally down. that was supposed to be liberating for us. i am finding that, for a lot of young people, the liberation and open field of sex rolling out before them leaves them feeling a bit lost. a bit on sure of what to do. there is a lack of clarity, especially post me too as to how to approach members of the opposite sex. how a romantic encounter should look the first or second time. you kind of see a retreat, actually, from this open playing field by both women and men. there are a lot of men who, especially young man, who i feel afraid to approach now because they feel they might be doing something wrong because boundaries are unclear. for women they often experience encounters where they think one thing will happen, and something wildly different happens in a sexual
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encounter. they feel taken aback or shocked in some way. there is no boundaries to say you shouldn't have done that apart from the low bar of consent. you can think you should have assaulted me, perhaps, but apart from that it seems they can't really criticize anything. again, they are still to be liberated, free. i think this creates a lot of confusion and dismay in the sexual landscape. a lot of almost milling about trying to figure it out. this is not bringing the happiness that was promised. all of this freedom does not necessarily make people happier. in some ways it makes them more confused. >> it is interesting. one of the things i talked so long about in my work is the idea that
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there is the hookup in theory versus the hookup in reality. the hookup and theory is incredible, wonderful, liberating, amazing. but it's really hard to find someone who reports that actually was amazing and reality. mostly it is a mix of confusion and uncomfortable feelings and uncertainty. i feel like we have to really think about reality and one of the things that always seemed like a revelation when i'm talking to college students about my research is the idea that i say a lot, you have the right to decide what you want to do and what you don't want to do. you have the right to say -- to draw boundaries. you have the right to take time, to think about what is it that i really want from sex. you don't have to just go along. why do you think it's so hard to ask for
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boundaries or to say i will do this but not this? or i am not ready for this? what is going on with our nervousness about drawing lines around sex for ourselves? >> that's a really interesting question. one thing that i found interesting and writing this book, interesting both in the research and in thinking through my own feelings here, is that as a culture we talk about sex and have sort of accepted a definition of sex positivity that seems at odds -- is at odds with the initial definition of sex positivity. i describe the modern idea of sex positivity with the descriptor, uncritical, uncritical sex
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positivity. it is the idea that, well, we have to be really positive about sex basically. that all sexes good, that we should be having more of it, that any activity that happened between two consenting adults is great or their own business and you can't be critical of it. that you shouldn't be asking questions. that's sort of walls off those encounters. i call this uncritical because it doesn't allow us to interrogate anything more about sex, about whether certain desires should be acted on about the emotional or physical ramifications are for the people taking part. about what the societal implications are of certain things being mainstream. whether it's -- fetishes that implicate race, class-ism, sexism, anything else. i think that some people feel that to be seen as modern,
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to be seen as sex positive they just have to be up for it all the time in some sense. that to complain or to raise qualms about a certain act or encounter would mean that they are judgmental or repressive or old-fashioned in some way. there is -- it almost feels as though there is almost a stigma against making judgments in some ways. against trying to say, well certain things might be good or bad. or even good or bad for me. you don't want to feel like you're judging other people. we know what that has looked like in the past. also, in some sense, because by making judgments some of our behaviors might be implicated as well. it is a sort of don't ask, don't tell, don't make judgments, don't ask for boundaries. that it is unfair
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in some way. that is too critical, not positive, anti sex or text negative. when in fact boundaries can be good for us. as any therapist would tell you, boundaries are important and we have to make them. there's almost a push to have none in a quest to be seen as ultimately sex positive. does that make sense? >> yeah. you know, your phrase, uncritical sex positivity. it was one of the places i really paused in your book to think. because i think it's such an interesting phrase and i think we are so pro sex positivity. i understand why, i understand what is behind that. we want to affirm sex as a good and you want to empower people to feel good about having at. but, you know, there is this like are we
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allowed to say no to somebody. one of the things i was thinking about when you are talking was this conversation i had with a group of college students where they ended up talking about, really what we want to do is make out on the dance floor. then there is all this other stuff like around it where we have to go home with people. if we start making out it has to lead to sex. one of the things that i kept asking them is why can't you just make out on the dance floor if that is what you really want to do? what is stopping you from stopping there? then i think about how somehow in our conversations there is a coercive element around sex. like people are afraid to say now, or afraid to set limits. i find this a strange situation, given, also the privacy we are putting on our conversations
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about consent. i feel like there is a disconnect there. then we are not seeing it. i don't know if that makes sense to you or sort of also what you are talking about, but i see a conflict there. >> yeah. i see that too. i think that it -- it stems from a sort of mismatch that i feel like we have inherited around sex and how we think about it. on one hand, whether it is through shows like literally sex in the city, girls, or other media productions that make sex out to be the thing that sort of defines you. as a person. something that helps you self actualize, that makes you liberated, modern, a real human in the world. there is this idea that you should be having sex to be a full and fulfilled
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person. so many of the people i talked to in this book told me about this idea that they had about what sex they should be having, even if that wasn't necessarily what they want. there was a young woman who told me about hooking up with somebody who she didn't really like. while she liked him a lot actually but he was moving away and it was complicated. she had one chance to hook up with him and it was like, well, i did it for the story. right? because i am supposed to. like that is what i'm supposed to be doing in my twenties, even though it had emotional ramifications and she was really upset afterwards. so there was this idea that to be a full adult, in some way, you should be having these encounters. even if you don't personally want them. you should be adventurous,
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push your boundaries, going for it. so, that is sort of one angle. on the other side, though -- this is kind of a paradox cool view of what's sex supposed to mean. in means everything in that it is a self defining act, but it is also something that is supposed to mean nothing. something that you don't have feelings about, actually. a physical act like any other. that it would be weird if you had sex and felt bad about it or like you didn't want to do something. because why does it matter? it is just a thing. there's almost this dual idea of what sex is. everything and nothing. something you have to do, but also something you shouldn't feel anything about. you shouldn't feel emotional about. in pursuit of that ideal, young people especially, who are really opening to the social pressures feel like they have to go after these encounters. they feel like they should be doing that and that if they have some emotional blowback or a bad experience, that is their
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fault, personally, for not being as with it or as liberated as they should. as they are told that they should be. >> i want to ask more about what you said. one of the passages i wanted to read, quickly. you have the section towards the end of the book called what if we had less sex. he said the freedom of the sexual revolution seems to go in only one direction. we are certainly free to have sex in the manner we choose, though for women the madonna -- construct -- not having sex is a stigmatized choice and i spent a lot of time thinking about that, to. that somehow in all of this freedom we are, in all of this conversation about consent, yes means yes, we are
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not allowed to say now or it is this kind of stigmatized choice. i was wondering if you could see a little bit more about that in regards to your own interviews? or just your feelings about this particular issue. >> well, again, i think to go back to an earlier question we talk a lot about liberation and freedom and having more choices good. in the same way that being shamed for having sex is not freeing, as a boundary, being shamed for not having sex is not free either. that is sort of a constraint in the opposite direction. when we talk about liberation, we want people to be free to choose and pursue the sexual life that helps them flourish. that is fitting to them. a culture that actually
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helps them achieve their goals. that could look like a lot of different things. i mean -- go on. >> no, go ahead, sorry. >> i guess thinking about that chapter, this idea of reclaiming a pause. or what if we had less sex. in writing that it felt almost a bit taboo. like that is something we are not supposed to suggest. i think a lot of early responses to this were like, you must dislike sex, you must be anti sex because you are suggesting people have less of it. i am actually pushing for in this book is, again, people to rethink their experiences. to really think about what sex and what they want from it. to have fewer of those encounters you walk into you and you have but you don't really want to be there, but you're doing it because you thought you should. >> one of the things, i love you talked about this pause.
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one of the things i have been advocating for a really long time is i usually tell students when i come to campus, is you should take a whole semester just to devote it to thinking about sex and what it means to you. it is your right, an obligation to yourself. you we often don't stop and think, we don't necessarily ask ourself what does this mean to us. i want to go back to the word you used earlier, i think it's related to this topic. you talked about the sexual marketplace. when i hear that. just the idea that there is a marketplace, which means we are talking about business terms. then i feel like leads to conversations about branding, all sorts of kinds of things like that they don't want to
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associate with my humanity. i do think that we think about sex in terms of a marketplace. even tinder, the apps we have that support that notion. i am wondering how do we, do you think that thinking about sex that we have now. does not that affect our ability to think about sex as a meaningful? how does it affect that if at all? >> yeah. the concept of a sexual marketplace is a depressing one, yet i think it really is relevant. i have a whole chapter in thinking rethinking sex where i talk about the advent of tinder, hinge, bumble, all of these swipe dating apps. there is research that shows that as those apps became ascendant they shot up and became the
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number one way that people meet other people romantically. where we used to meet people, through friends, through work, family. that sharp sharply dropped off, taken over by apps. yeah the thing about these apps is that, again, they are commercial tools. they make money off of people being on them and staying on them, and saying single. the way that they are set up from outs a certain vision of sex, romance, and other people. if you look at popular dating apps, tinder and bumble especially are set up to look like a deck of cards, right? you see someone's face and a few lines about them and just swipe left to right. you are flipping through people. that does lead to a sort of transactional mindset, where other individuals are viewed as commodities in a sense. you are sort of taking your pick as to what is the best fit for you and discarding what might not fit. we might not think that we
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are being affected by these setups, that we have a certain idea of what sex means to us or romance should look like. our society does, in fact, shape how we approach sex. i remember talking to one woman as we talked about these dating apps. she told me that she had joked with her friends about ordering a guy off of tinder, because she too wanted to prove that she could have no strings attached sex. even as she said that phrase, ordering a guy off tinder, she herself paused and was like -- i don't know why i said that. maybe that is not -- i mean that was a joke, that is not how i should think about other people. this idea of the marketplace and people as products that you can choose from is very firmly baked into the mindset when she was
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approaching dating. i think this is, also, a factor -- if you like your trading in some way. you're agreeing with somebody else to allow them to have sex and you have sex with them. it is a transactional approach in nature, but the thing is, most people don't want to have a transactional sex. their idea of a good relationship is not to people bartering for this bodily act, but actually somebody that sees them as a full person. some thing that involves empathy, care, and being seen for who they are. some thing that leave the humanity and human dignity intact. so while i think that we are sort of being trained to see ourselves as members of a sexual marketplace, there is something in a lot of people that is repelled by and once
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you reject that framing. we just have to figure out how to do so. >> you know, i have -- one of the things i have thought for so long is this idea that true sexual empowerment, regardless of how you decide you want to do or what you wanted to, true sexual empowerment requires us to become critical thinkers about sex. we have to engage with it. it doesn't just have to be this wave coming at us, just because someone tries to sell us a sexual marketplace or the idea that sex should be a kind of marketplace doesn't mean we have to interact with it that way. to be empowered, we have to realize that we have choices to make around what is coming at us. i feel like that is the part where i get stuck, everyone gets stuck, is that we often don't realize we have any power to critique what is coming at us or make decisions
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around it, as opposed to accepting it. i am wondering what you think we can do to get out of this cycle? it does seem everybody is having those feelings, but we are so afraid to articulate them. >> yeah, that's a really good question. i mean i can give to, i have two thoughts on this. one, i started be thinking i've started writing rethinking sex 2019 and continued writing throughout the pandemic. there was an interesting shift i saw happen. pre-pandemic, people were moving around, very busy, swiping away, dating away. when the first lockdowns hit, you know, when people finally had to pause and stay at home alone or not alone and think about what they wanted from their lives from their relationships a lot of thinking did happen, actually. people finally had a
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second to stop and think is the thing i am doing really bringing me closer to the goals i have? so, a forced pause was helpful. that said i'm not advocating for another pandemic or sad reason for a forced pause. i think -- so i just catching my train of thought, here. i think another thing that we need to do, that was kind of the impetus for writing this book, two, was after the me too movement with the media man list, he is easy on sorry story, it satirist, it seem like there was a moment when people had through conversation and stories that were finally public in the public eye, stopped and said oh yeah. this is bad. i am not enjoying this. something is off here. that
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almost felt like where the conversation stopped with the recognition that things were bad. i think that the next step in pushing people to actually take a moment to think allowed is to have the next step in an open conversation. to kind of proposed substantive statements were claims that, say, about what sex means and what we want to commit. what is ethical and not ethical, it's that era. do this in public, in conversation with one another. not just whispered in bars or among our friends. so that these questions can be argued about, debated, we can correct our assumptions if they are false and in that way move forward to something better. i mean, rethinking sex it's a provocation. it is meant to be a provocation to a certain type
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of conversation, actually, by affirming what sex, that is meaningful, that it could be spiritual, what are meanings to it -- that mean we want connected to feelings, actually. that some longs might not be acted upon because they aren't good for us. but actually proposing claims that we can talk about and build understandings from there, we can move forward in discussion. >> there are so many thought i have and i feel like you set up the next set of questions i want to ask you really perfectly. one of the things i was thinking about so much as i was reading the book was i was feeling like this book is really offering permission. often i think we are afraid to talk about these things, certain things that maybe a bit quieter cultural or make us feel vulnerable. is that
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something that you thought about when you are writing this book? you are offering your own feelings, your own stories with others, if you want this book to be permission? >> i do. absolutely! i think just in the introduction to the book there is a part where i say you are not crazy, right, to the reader, you are not crazy. the thing you feel is off, is off. it is not crazy to want something better than the sexual culture that we have now. it is not crazy to be asking questions about whether what is going on is really right for you or for society at large. i think just by allowing people to speak up about what they feel, do not necessarily feel like they have to abide by certain vision of what sex looks like or a certain girl boss or lean in
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feminism. that extends the conversation and allows us to change the culture as we wish. >> i want to ask about sexual ethics. you brought this up earlier in a conversation, the idea of the good, sexual good. we just brought up sexual ethics again a second ago and i wanted to -- there is passage of your book in this chapter called some desires are worse than others. you are talking a before the section about how, if we're being asked to look closely at our own desires. here is the section. the paradigm gives us a way out of the discomfort or at least allows it easier for us to stick to a position of moral neutrality. the contemporary era, we have settled upon consent as a lower calmest denominator that we can all agree on. once we see that as a stab list, consent functions as
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an iron curtain. a social and political divider that cuts our experiences in half. we use it to separate our intimate lives and propose parts that are up for discussion and those that are exempt -- allowing consent to be that divider, we have arbitrarily and incorrectly set many of our deepest contentions and disagreement behind a veil. consent is helpfully given us a way of dodging difficult questions about morality and autonomy, but they are unhealthy ones to dodge. some things are worse than others, or at least should not be mainstreamed and we should be able to say so. you go on about how hard it is to express our discomfort. then you will want to say, when we do want to object to particular acts or practice, often the best we can do is frame it and not a moral failing but i'm a failure of
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consent. i wanted you to say more to that. that consent is sort of our only way through, but we still can't seem to talk about ethics or morality in the context of sex. >> right. i mean i think one of the things that is interesting about the current sexual landscape is that, as you said the very beginning, we have a fairly robust legal doctrine about sex. we have are able to talk about what is allowed and not allowed. again, consent and the legal questions leave so much out. practices that are consensual can still be damaging. the lack of consent, alone, it is not the only indicator of problematic sex. then there is the fact that we can consent to things that are still harmful to us and we don't really have the language to talk about that when we are only talking about consent. i
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think we also just don't really have a strong language for talking about what is good or what is bad in some sense. we have, in some ways in the modern era pushed way the idea of morality, or shared rhea morality, out of the public square. within the public square -- in public you can talk about whether things are legal. whether they are consented to, whether they are not, whether someone is actively criminal. to go deeper and ask what does this say about us? what are our or moral standards and frameworks. do we share those when we talk about sex. what should they be? what ideas do we hold up? that is seen as something private and personal. something that maybe you can hold for yourself but you can't put on another person. that becomes a little bit strange, you know, when it comes to sex. that is something
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that you are doing with another person where you want to be sharing the same standards. sex in and of itself is such a social act in some ways. it is something that we are all doing, something that we all talk about, but it also sort of shapes our society up to the creation of another person. it is implicated in so many other factors. if we can't really make judgments layer and we leave a lot of space open for problems to arise that we can't really address. >> i keep trying to address, figure out why we are so afraid of talking about sexual ethics. even as a baseline, our conversation about consent is an ethical conversation. it has to do with relational ethics, because anytime you are engaging with someone else who are engaging in relational ethics whether you want it or not. or conversations about consent
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have to do with ethics, period. we are so afraid to name that and go there. why do you think we are so afraid of ethics and morality? >> well, i think there are a couple of reasons. one i think is really justified. one of the pushback's that people have against talking about sexual ethics or old school sexual ethics is that they have been repressive repressed in the past. we know this. the sexual revolution happened for a reason. the feminist movements happened and are happening for a reason. we have seen how top-down hierarchical understanding of what is right and what is wrong and certain moral codes have been used to oppress and reject people for centuries, weathers women, sexual minorities, people haven't favored races or classes. we have seen our moral
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judgments can be used as not moral, actually just a way to oppress and hurt other people. we don't want to do that. we very justifiably moved away from that on purpose because we've seen the harm that they can cause. but i think that there is still space to talk about morals in the public square. i think what we have to do to avoid those harms is talk about them in public and in common, making sure we are inclusive of groups that will that have been marginalized in the past and we make our assumptions corrigable, as we learn more about people who didn't know. as we get more input from other groups, who we
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might be thinking about making decisions for. that we actually bring that into play when you make up boundries today. >> one of the topics that you bring up here and there throughout the book, you devote a chapter to this, is faith and spirituality in relation to this topic. you have this expansive, open, inclusiveness about how you are approaching faith and -- we often see faith and sex as competing. you are really opening the door, i think, for readers to contemplate their own faith commitments, whatever they may be in relation to this topic. i wonder if you could say more about that choice you made with this book, to include
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that? >> yeah. writing this book was, it started out as almost an academic question in some ways. thinking about the sexual culture post me too and saying what's wrong here? how do we fix it? in the course of writing a book about sex and sexual ethics i became implicated, myself. i had to think about where did i get my ideas about what is good and not good? what is right and wrong? how relatable are those. the way i think about these questions, about a lot of questions as influenced influenced by my faith. i'm catholic, christian. i also wanted to write a book that was relevant to not just christians, not just people of faith, but anybody who wanted to enter this conversation about our sexual culture and how to make it better. in the book i thought about, for instance, what might be a better standard for sex. a better sexual ethic. i propose the idea of willing the good of the other. that is aristotle by way of thomas
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aquinas. willing to go to the other implies that you think about the other person's good as much as you think about you around. you are here for them as highly as you are for yourself and it encourages that you have to figure out what the good is, the common good. i like this ideal, even though it does spring in some ways from faith and catholic teaching because it's legible to anyone. -- crosses all faith and religious boundaries even if you aren't religious, -- we have a sense of what human flourishing might look like and we all want that for ourselves. i also, think, talk about religion in the book too because religion is in some ways record of how people across millennium i have
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grappled with these big questions. what a good looks like, what a good life looks like. talking about sex through the lens of faith. there are many traditions that have helped us think through what sex looks like, what it might mean. but the good might look like they're. there is richness to draw from and there it has helped inform my belief and still relevant to people who don't share my faith. >> i love that you brought up aristotle, speaking my language. i love seeing aquinas in my book. i feel like i'm always the person bringing up aristotle, so it's cool to be in a conversation with someone thinking about aristotle. i love nicomachean
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ethics. anyway. one of the things i wanted to ask you, in your life as a journalist you do a lot of interviews for this book and i wondered if talking to the people you talked to for this book there was a person, interview, that really stuck with you. something we're talking about now that you thought was really important part of the book when you're writing it. >> oh, wow. well, first i will say one thing. if you write about sex, if you're writing a book about sex or about these topics. people just tell you things. sometimes it's in interviews, but sometimes, many times people seek you out. because they have things that they want to unload or questions they want to ask. so we didn't feel they can ask someone else without being
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judged for it. even those encounters shaped how i felt about the book in many ways and how i went about it. there is one encounter in the book that's seems to encapsulate the problems with our current sexual ethic and the current being talked about even now. i was at a holiday party, hold a house party in dc, and i was talking to a person i mentioned writing this book. i woman i never met pulled me aside to ostensibly chat about sex. she told me how she was dating this guy, it was early, she really liked him but he choked her during sex and she consented to it i guess but she didn't really like it and was it okay?
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she was basically asking me, a perfect stranger, whether it was okay to dislike being subjected to this surprise extreme act during a sexual encounter and that was a surprising thing to occur at a party. this wasn't even an interview. it was a conversation that seemed to show so many of the failings of our culture. the fact that this woman didn't feel comfortable judging, in some way, or having boundaries as we talked about before. that she felt like it might be a bad or out there thing to not like this extreme act to the point where she had to ask a stranger if she was okay to not like this. the fact that she felt like she
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consented to it and so maybe it was her fault that this was happening. that she was putting up with it because that's what you do now, and this was normal. as if consenting to this made it better. then there was this, there was nobody to ask about this because who do you really talk to you about the problems that we are facing in sex because we are supposed to be so sex positive. it is kind of a downer to say you don't like something. i guess i will pull the stranger aside and sort of reveal myself to them, because i don't feel comfortable saying anything negative to my partner. there was just so much in this conversation and this encounter that informed thinking through questions of power, questions of how we talk about sex, questions about what consent can and can't do. that really stuck with me as i was thinking through questions for the entire book. not just the chapter that this is featured
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in. >> i have one last question for you. that is, you wrote this book that is so open and honest and questioning about this question that is so complicated for so many mass. as many who are you speaking to when you wrote this book? like who is your audience in your mind and what do you hope for them to take away from reading this? >> wow. well, i would say my audience is anyone who's thinking about sex but i will say that in writing this book i was thinking about my peers. my friends. like, this girl who asked me this question about this encounter that she felt she couldn't say no to. college
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students and younger siblings who are encountering this culture who may feel that it's not quite right, but don't know exactly what to say about it. talking to, i guess, people who realize during the me too movement that they had encounters that may have been consensual but were still bad. encounters that were consensual but you can still say that they were bad whether you consented or not -- my hope for this book is people, as i said earlier, to realize that they are not in the wrong for wanting something more. for wanting something better. they should be able to talk about this out loud, to have honest conversations about what sex means to them and to society, more broadly. to actually shape what the culture looks like, rather than just be shaped by it. >> well, christine, thank you so much for a wonder converzation today
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and congratulations on a really exceptional book. >> thank you so much. it was great talking to you. >> it was great talking to you, too. >> it's about giving young people a seat at the table. not necessarily replacing the other valuable perspectives who currently have a say in public
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policy. my generation does not have all the answers. when i go to her today or and constituents who are older tell me about taking on a mortgage, helping to care for their out early parents whose health is declining. about starting a small business in connecticut, i spend a lot more time listening than i do talking. i personally do not have those experiences i. have a lot to learn from the folks who i represent and the folks that work alongside with. they bring all these different perspectives. conversely, i think i bring a lot to the table when we are talking about college affordability. young people know how hard it is to 40-degree in the 21st century. i think i bring a unique perspective when we are talking about climate change. it is our generation that understands that rising global temperatures are not some academic problem, it is an existential problem to our billet-y to lead healthy and happy lives. when i made it to the senate, i was appointed to the senate chairman of the higher education committee. we got to talk about education,
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and consent on college campuses. i just graduated recently. i know it looks like on a campus on a friday night. what consent can look like and what it doesn't look like. the one i hear the most feedback from on young voters is school safety and gun violence prevention. we are generation, the student if you hear a lot noise in the hallway and worry about where we would hide that the next parkland, sandy hook, may have arrived in a high school. that is a unique perspective that is different from anyone in my parents immigrant person recent experienced. all that to say it is not about replacing one perspective or another. it is about making sure that everyone gets the same as the laws are written. everyone has a seat at the table. that is the promise of representative democracy. that is a promise that is unfulfilled every day. walk into every state capital. hartford, you are in candace recently, any state capital in the country and you will see that in the next century of american life is being talked about and decided upon without
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any input from the stakeholders in the future. >> afterwards a weekly interview program with relevant guesthouse interviewing talk nonfiction authors about their latest work. to watch this program and others visit book tv dot org slash afterwards. ucla law professor devin cabada recently spoke about the fourth amendment which defines unreasonable searches and seizures and the power of the price. here's a portion of that program. >> you can think about the trauma of seeing -- student pending at the wall with guns. having a gun pointed at you. not knowing where any of this is going to go. i didn't really think that much about it in the moment, to be
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perfectly frank, it is years after years that i've reflected on it and call it up. realize what a frightening, frightening, moment that is. how that vulnerability is a defining feature of what it means to be black. think of any particular police interaction, it is potentially a killing zone. what it means to live with that existential reality. >> to watch the full program just search devin carbon o, or the title of his book, unreasonable book tv dot org. con centhi everyone, i'm jack 11th l i am the chief branding consultant officer at sixth and i. on behalf of the team, thank you for being with us tonight. for those who may be new to sixth and i we are center for art, entertainment, and culture for jewish and -- celebrating the release of her new ,


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