December 29, 2004

Nuns + Sluts = fusion

Several years ago I read a book of interviews with nuns. Many of them talked about their celibacy, and the variety and detail of their ideas sparked for me a serious fascination with the possibilities of sexual abstinence. At the time, my curiosity was mostly about expressions of sexuality that had nothing to do with sexual intercourse.

I still think about celibacy a lot. Especially interesting to me lately has been the theme of independence through celibacy, which seems to be a really common motivation for celibates. It was another nun's discussion that made this concept intriguing to me— she wasn't just trying to cut her ties to the social order, she said that refraining from any sexual partners leaves celibates free to relate equally to everyone, without being beholden to any special mates. It was a strategy for equality, not isolation.

I wondered if celibacy in this sense could be equivalent to extreme polyamory. Sex with no one or sex with everyone could, purely theoretically, have the same inclusive effect.

(At this point I'd like to remind everyone that submissions are open for the Science Fiction issue, and utopian/distopian fantasies are welcome.)

After very little searching, I turned up a book about polyamory that speaks about independence, freedom and community the same way as my favorite discussions of celibacy. The Ethical Slut also, as a bonus, offers intensely realistic and inspiring ideas about creating happy, healthy sexual relationships.

Today, I'm posting reviews of The Ethical Slut and of a bitter, man-hungry book about celibacy for single women, called The Cult of the Born-Again Virgin.

I've so far only reviewed angry, bitter books about celibacy, but I have read a few positive, grounded ones. If you are interested in the subject, I suggest diving straight for Elizabeth Abbott's A History of Celibacy, and for Sally Kitch's Chaste Liberation.

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