“Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”

We celebrate the life of Toni Morrison, who celebrated love in her work and in her living.

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Love you, mean it.

I’m very saddened to find that one of my favourite blogs, Feminist Philosophers, is closing down.

The blog is one of the resources that I turned to when I made the decision to pursue a PhD in philosophy and one that I keep coming back to for a gut check on those days/weeks/semesters when grad school is just… doing the most.

I’d like to thank all of the contributors there for creating (and demonstrating) a space that helped virtually support me to create a space for myself in this discipline.

Love you, mean it.

Oh Canada!

SPSL Session at the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association, April 17-20, 2019, Vancouver, British Columbia

Topic: Engaging with Kate Manne’s Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny

  • Ann J. Cahill (Elon University, North Carolina): The Impossibility and Necessity of Resistance Against Misogyny: Filling the Jails
  • Qrescent Mali Mason, (Haverford College, Pennsylvania): I Wanna be Down, Girl: Misogyny is an Intersectional Key
  • Angelique Szymanek, (Hobart & William Smith Colleges, New York): ’My Cunt is Wet with Fear’: Misogyny and Desire in the Art of Tracy Emin
  • Dianna Taylor, (John Carroll University, Ohio): Misogyny in the Era of #MeTooOh

Interview with Fanny Söderbäck

We are very happy to relaunch our Interview Series with an interview with Fanny Söderbäck! 

fanny-söderbäck.pngFanny Söderbäck is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University. She holds a PhD in Philosophy from the New School for Social Research, and taught philosophy for several years at Siena College. Her book Revolutionary Time: On Time and Difference in Kristeva and Irigaray, which treats the role of time as it appears in the work of French feminist thinkers Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray, is forthcoming with SUNY Press. Fanny has edited Feminist Readings of Antigone (SUNY Press, 2010) and is a co-editor of the volume Undutiful Daughters: New Directions in Feminist Thought and Practice (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). She is also the editor of a special issue of philoSOPHIA: A Journal of Continental Feminism on the topic of birth. Her work has appeared in scholarly journals such as Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, Journal of French and Francophone PhilosophyJournal of Speculative Philosophy, and Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. Current research projects include a monograph on the Italian feminist thinker Adriana Cavarero, and a project that puts into conversation Julia Kristeva and Gloria Anzaldúa around issues of foreignness and strangeness. Fanny is the co-founder and co-director of the Kristeva Circle. 

ADWarmack: What role do you think the philosophy of sex and love play in your work on motherhood, Irigaray, and Kristeva?  How do you understand the operation of intimacy or the intimate in your work?  What do you understand the role of the erotic to be in your work and your interests? 

FS: You speak here of sex, love, intimacy, the intimate, and the erotic. For me, these all have registers of their own, and play different roles in my work. As a feminist, sex and sexuality have always been central fields of inquiry, although more so in my teaching than in what I write. Right now, I teach a course called “Issues in Sex and Gender,” and I told students on the first day of class that this would be a course on the relationship between sex and gender more so than a course on sexuality. But of course, this distinction collapses upon itself, and despite my initial remark, we have touched on issues having to do with sex and sexuality all along. How could we not? What would it mean to consider gender identity without reflecting on the myriad ways in which that’s always wrapped up in social norms and expectations having to do with desire, pleasure, sexual relations, and so on? How speak of masculinity without an analysis of heteronormativity and homophobia? How broach the current medical practice of “correctional surgeries” on intersex infants without naming the telos of hetero-penetration as that which, literally, shapes our views about what counts as a “normal” or “functional” penis or vagina (at the expense, for example, of clitoral pleasure)? 

Love, more broadly construed, plays a central role in my scholarly work, and as you put it, also has a role to play specifically in my work on motherhood, Irigaray, and Kristeva. I recently finished a piece on motherhood in Kristeva that reads her as attending very carefully to the paradoxes and ambiguities of so-called maternal love, such that it comes to include feelings of disgust and repulsion as integral to maternal passion. I have another article forthcoming that explores Irigaray’s attempts to develop a non-appropriating erotic model that moves beyond the all-too-common trope of a lover-subject who desires their beloved-object in a manner that reproduces all kinds of problematic and binary assumptions about activity and passivity, which in turn serve to reproduce binary gender roles and structures of subordination and submission. My reading of Irigaray takes place in conversation with Plato, and ultimately seeks to develop an intersubjective, non-appropriating ethics of irreducibility, grounded in love.  

As for intimacy, or the intimate, I think my work has always in some sense been concerned with our capacity – or incapacity – to establish proximity across difference, in non-reductive ways. This can manifest in the ways in which we make sense of pregnant embodiment as an experience that involves unique ways of navigating proximity and difference, in a way that fundamentally complicates and challenges commonly held views about identity, selfhood, relationality, and otherness. Or it can manifest in our attempts to build political coalitions across geographical distance and sexual, racial, and colonial difference. But I also think about this a lot from a pedagogical perspective, in terms of classroom dynamics. Intersubjectively as well as in relation to the texts we read, there is always a question of intimacy and trust – not of an erotic kind of course but in terms of making proximity across differences take place. How offer a close reading of a text that was written 2,000 years ago, in a culture different from our own? How create a space where students will have the trust (in me, in each other) to bring deeply personal experiences to bear on the texts that we are engaging? In my mind philosophical dialogue is best – as in most profound and most radical – when it comes from a place of intimacy. 

ADWarmack: What projects are you working on now?  How might time play a role in philosophies of sex and love (or the philosophy of sex and love)? 

FS: In my forthcoming book on revolutionary time – which examines the role of temporality in the works of Kristeva and Irigaray – I offer an analysis of the present that frames Irigaray’s critique of the metaphysics of presence through an appeal to love understood as co-presence. As much as concepts such as “Being” and “Presence” are fraught in a host of ways – and especially so for marginalized folks in cisheteropatriarchal culture – I am still interested in the question of what it means to be-with in a manner that allows for being-present-with. Especially erotic relations are so burdened with appropriative logics that end up objectifying the other. That’s why, for Irigaray, even a seemingly affirmative expression such as “I love you” in fact runs the risk of repeating sexist-capitalist-colonial tendencies to reduce the other to an object; and that’s also why desire so easily gets confused with ownership. To suggest, like Irigaray does, that we instead say “I love to you” is an attempt to seek out the possibility for erotic relations between subjects, whose co-presence or becoming-with are marked by indeterminacy, proximity in difference, and attention to the irreducible mystery of those we love (that they must remain strangers). In praxis, this is extremely hard, because we are so habituated to seek identification through appropriation, to eliminate the distance or difference between us and devouring what we desire. I struggle a lot with this in relation to the people I love. How to carve out an asymptotic path of approximation rather than a teleological project of identification? Those are questions that keep me up at night… 

Moving forward, I am articulating a project that seeks to read Kristeva and Anzaldúa together around issues of foreignness and strangeness. And I am just starting a new book project on Cavarero’s philosophy of singularity. Both the strange and the singular are, for me, conditions of possibility for intimacy. So, while neither of these projects are explicitly or primarily about love or sex, I guess in some sense they might be construed as such. 

ADWarmack: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? 

FS: I have the word LOVE in Hebrew (AHAVA) tattooed on my shoulder. It’s been with me since I was fourteen. And I am currently engaging in a very peculiar form of loving relation, namely pregnancy. There is something intensely strange about feeling so much love towards and intimacy with someone who you have yet to actually meet. 

Biting the Big Apple

SPSL Session at the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association, January 9, 2019, New York, New York

  • Doug Ficek (University of New Haven): Laughing at the Toxic Male: Two Readings of How Philosophers Pick Up, a Thing that Exists
  • Shaun Miller (Marquette): A Three-Tiered View of Sexual Consent
  • Caleb Ward (SUNY Stonybrook): Responsibility and Responding to Sexual Consent
  • Andrea Dionne Warmack (Emory): Home: A Phenomenological Account of Homing as a Practice of Self-Love

Doing it, and doing it, and doing it well.

We are delighted to announce our upcoming SPSL events in January and April 2019!

SPSL Session at the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association, January 7-10, 2019, New York, New York

  • Doug Ficek (University of New Haven): Laughing at the Toxic Male: Two Readings of How Philosophers Pick Up, a Thing that Exists
  • Shaun Miller (Marquette): A Three-Tiered View of Sexual Consent
  • Caleb Ward (SUNY Stonybrook): Responsibility and Responding to Sexual Consent
  • Andrea Dionne Warmack (Emory): Home: A Phenomenological Account of Homing as a Practice of Self-Love


SPSL Session at the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association, April 17-20, 2019, Vancouver, British Columbia

Topic: Engaging with Kate Manne’s Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny

  • Ann J. Cahill (Elon University, North Carolina): The Impossibility and Necessity of Resistance Against Misogyny: Filling the Jails
  • Qrescent Mali Mason, (Haverford College, Pennsylvania): I Wanna be Down, Girl: Misogyny is an Intersectional Key
  • Angelique Szymanek, (Hobart & William Smith Colleges, New York): ’My Cunt is Wet with Fear’: Misogyny and Desire in the Art of Tracy Emin
  • Dianna Taylor, (John Carroll University, Ohio): Misogyny in the Era of #MeToo

What’s New in Philosophy of Sex and Love: Autumn 2016 edition

Welcome to What’s New in Philosophy of Sex and Love! These are things from the past year or so that our members and friends are writing, and in some cases reading. We’re going to host this series now here at Erotes; last year’s installment was at our main site.

Samantha Brennan, “Is Marriage Bad for Children? Rethinking the Connection between Having Children, Romantic Love, and Marriage,” with Bill Cameron, in Beyond Marriage, edited by Elizabeth Brake, Oxford University Press.

Samantha Brennan, review of Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal.

Luke Brunning, “The Distinctiveness of Polyamory,” Journal of Applied Philosophy 2016.

Shannon Dea, Beyond the Binary: Thinking About Sex and Gender (Peterborough: Broadview, 2016).

Katherine L. Goldey, Amanda R. Posh, Sarah N. Bell, and Sari M. van Anders, “Defining Pleasure: A Focus Group Study of Solitary and Partnered Sexual Pleasure in Queer and Heterosexual Women,” (forthcoming, Archives of Sexual Behavior).

Lena Gunnarsson, “The Dominant and Its Constitutive Other: Feminist Theorizations of Love, Power and Gendered Selves,” Journal of Critical Realism, 15 (2016), 1-20.

Cressida J. Heyes, “Dead to the World: Rape, Unconsciousness, and Social Media,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 41:2, January 2016, 361-383. An open access preprint and a teaching worksheet with suggested questions and activities can be found here.

Sarah LaChance Adams, Christopher Davidson, and Caroline Lundquist eds., New Philosophies of Sex and Love: Thinking Through Desire (forthcoming, Rowman Littlefield International, 2016).

Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins, “Knowing Our Own Hearts: Self-Reporting and the Science of Love,” forthcoming in Philosophical Issues.

Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins, ‘Addicted’? To ‘Love’? Commentary on ‘Addicted to Love: What is Love Addiction and When Should It be Treated?’, by Brian Earp, Olga Wudarczyk, Bennett Foddy, and Julian Savulescu. Forthcoming in Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychology.

Katarina Majerhold, Love, Its Origin and Modifications Through Time, Založba Obzorja Maribor, (forthcoming autumn) 2016.

Katarina Majerhold: Čustveni izzivi (učbenik za osnovne in srednje šole; Emotional Challenges: textbook for primary and secondary schools), Rokuss-Klett (forthcoming autumn) 2016.

Laurie Shrage, “Decoupling Marriage and Parenting,” Journal of Applied Philosophy 2016.

Laurie Shrage, “African Americans, HIV, and Mass Incarceration,” invited commentary, The Lancet 2016.

Laurie Shrage, “Sex Reassignment,” Encyclopedia of Theory in Psychology (Sage Publications, 2015).

Laurie Shrage, “Why Are So Many Black Women Dying of AIDS?” Op-ed, New York Times, 2015.

Laurie Shrage, “When Prostitution is Nobody’s Business,” in “The Stone,” New York Times 2015.

Alan Soble, “Love and Value, Yet Again,” in John Davenport and Anthony Rudd, eds., Love, Reason, and Will: Kierkegaard after Frankfurt (Bloomsbury Press, 2015), pp. 25–46.

Alan Soble, “The Love Call of F. Scott Fitzgerald,” Per Contra, No. 37 (Fall, 2015); .

Alan Soble, “Morality,” in Patricia Whelehan and Anne Bolin, eds., The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality (Malden, Mass. & Oxford, Eng.: John Wiley & Sons, 2015), volume 2, pp. 1–5.

Shay Welch, Existential Eroticism: A Feminist Approach to Understanding Women’s Oppression-Perpetuating Choices (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015).