Care of the Sexual Self: Áskēsis as a Route to Sex Education
ABSTRACT: In adolescent sex education, the contemporary debate has developed into two camps: the paternalistic view and the liberal view. While the debate has been entrenched in morality, religion, and politics, I argue that both sides of the camp have been too focused on actions and behavior and are assuming a heteronormative and heteropatriarchal background. This dissertation argues that the way to take care of the self is through exercises, techniques, self-discipline, and self-cultivation—what the ancient Greeks called áskēsis. Chapter one analyzes what I call the paternalistic model of sex education by investigating the various arguments for paternalistic sex education, and any presumptions the supporters have. I conclude that the paternalistic model of sex education is inadequate: proponents either presume too much, too little, take a heteronormative stance, or inadequately address why adolescent sexuality is a problem. Chapter two investigates and analyzes the arguments and presuppositions of what I call the liberal-consequentialist model. I argue that adolescents, in general, can have competence to consent in sexual relations by offering support from legal, socioeconomical, psychological and biological sources. After which, I apply J.S. Mill’s On Liberty to formulate a liberal-consequentialist sex education. This view fails, however, because liberal-consequentialism sex education focuses too much on behavioral outcomes and presupposes traditional gender norms. Chapter three focuses on a model that hones in on the autonomy of the individual. This model includes components from Kant’s deontological ethics and Kantian virtues to control the inclinations. Applying this to sex education, I formulate a liberal-deontological sex education model, where one introduces autonomy to the students and moral strength via Kantian virtues. This view fails, however, because autonomy in regards to sex means that consent is minimal: one must obtain a “yes” and once the “yes” is obtained, sexual activity is presumed to be moral. Moreover, the liberal-deontological view presupposes gender stereotypes. Finally, there is something more that all three models are missing: a notion I refer to as the care of the sexual self, which means to formulate a sexual subject. In chapter four, I use the notion of áskēsis to explain four sexual components. These components rely on four contemporary philosophers who draw upon the ancient Greeks to focus on áskēsis, to train oneself to become a human being. I conclude that by forming a subject, one focuses on the effort to become a certain kind of individual, a kind of person, a person who can cultivate the self: creating an art of making yourself. I champion this view and apply áskēsis to sex education.
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- Presenter. “BDSM, Consent, and Human Flourishing: A Sketch for the Possibility of Ethical Degradation,” presentation Pacific American Philosophical Association, San Francisco, CA, April 1, 2016.
- Presenter. “Analyzing Dan Savage’s ‘Monogamish’ Claim,” presentation Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association, Seattle, WA, March 22, 2016.
- Presenter. “Bodily Consciousness: A Sartrean Response to Irigrary,” presentation North American Sartre Society at Lehigh Valley Center, Bethlehem, PA, Nov. 14, 2015.
- Commentator. “Language and Feminist Resistance in Kristeva, Irigaray, and Cixous” by Emily Douglas, The Society for Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture at University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, June 4, 2013.
- Presenter. “Luce Irigaray: Love Through Sexual Difference,” presentation The Society for Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture at University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, June 4, 2013
- Presenter. “Caring for the Sexual Self: Applying Foucault’s Hermeneutics of the Subject in Sex Education,” presentation Queertopia 6.0 at Northwestern University, Illinois, April 14, 2013.
- Presenter. “Caring for the Sexual Self: Applying Foucault’s Hermeneutics of the Subject in Sex Education,” presentation North Carolina Philosophical Society at East Carolina University, North Carolina, February 16, 2013.
- Presenter. “Why Does God Care if I Believe in His Existence?” presentation Philosophy Club at Weber State University, Utah, November 16, 2007.
- Presenter. “Luce Irigaray: Love through Sexual Difference,” presentation Intermountain Philosophy Conference at Brigham Young University, Utah, November 10, 2006.
- Presenter. “Luce Irigaray: Love of Community through Sexual Difference,” presentation Love in the Public Square Conference at Molloy College, New York, March 31, 2006.
- Presenter. “A Critique of Wittgenstein,” presentation Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters at Southern Utah University, Utah, April 16, 2004.
- Travel Award, Graduate Student Research Travel Award, Marquette University, 2015
- Travel Award, Center for Ethics Studies, Marquette University, 2013.
- Teaching Assistantship to Professor Charles Harris, Texas A&M, 2005-2006
- Best Paper Award at the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters for “Critique of Wittgenstein,” 2004.