Intimate Exposure: A Feminist Phenomenology of Sexual Experience and Sexual Suppression

Hypatia:1-21 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Accounts of sexual experience, sexual oppression, and sexual violation, if they are not to lend support to the problems they are invoked to address, require the foundation of a phenomenological description of the character of experience. Relying on Maurice Merleau-Ponty, I aim to provide this foundation, arguing that sexual experience is a domain not of detached, individual autonomy but of intrinsic susceptibility and exposure to the world. My description of sexual experience is intended to reveal the immanent norms that sexuality projects and thereby to critique ways of inhabiting experience that disavow what is revealed in that description. The first section discerns three ambiguities that characterize our experience in Merleau-Ponty's notion of “flesh”: that between materiality and meaning, self and others, and self and world. The second section offers a phenomenology of sexual experience based on these ambiguities. The third section, on sexual oppression and suppression, identifies two stereotypical ways in which they are evaded: what I call the stances of “withdrawal from” and “control of” sexuality as flesh. Finally, the fourth section reveals the shortcomings of the legal-juridical domain in navigating our status as flesh, and warns against the proliferation of its terms, specifically the norm of consent.

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Shannon Hoff
Memorial University of Newfoundland

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References found in this work

Phenomenology of Spirit.G. W. F. Hegel & A. V. Miller - 1977 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 10 (4):268-271.
The Ethical Significance of Being an Erotic Object.Caleb Ward & Ellie Anderson - 2022 - In David Boonin (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Sexual Ethics. London: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 55-71.
A Phenomenological Approach to Sexual Consent.Ellie Anderson - 2022 - Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 8 (2).
Date rape: A feminist analysis.Lois Pineau - 1989 - Law and Philosophy 8 (2):217-243.

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