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Erotic Attunement: Parenthood and the Ethics of Sensuality between Unequals
by Cristina L. H. Traina
University of Chicago Press, 2011
eISBN: 978-0-226-81137-6 | Cloth: 978-0-226-81138-3
Library of Congress Classification HQ755.84.T73 2011
Dewey Decimal Classification 306.8743019


Heightened awareness of the problem of sexual abuse has led to deep anxiety over adults touching children—in nearly any context. Though our society has moved toward increasingly strict enforcement of this taboo, studies have shown that young children need regular human contact, and the benefits of breastfeeding have been widely extolled. Exploring the complicated history of love, desire, gender, sexuality, parenthood, and inequality, Erotic Attunement probes the disquieting issue of how we can draw a clear line between natural affection toward children and perverse exploitation of them.

Cristina L. H. Traina demonstrates that we cannot determine what is wrong about sexual abuse without first understanding what is good about appropriate sensual affection. Pondering topics such as the importance of touch in nurturing children, the psychology of abuse and victimhood, and recent ideologies of motherhood, she argues that we must expand our philosophical and theological language of physical love and make a distinction between sexual love and erotic love. Taking on theological and ethical arguments over the question of sexuality between unequals, she arrives at the provocative conclusion that it can be destructive to completely bar eroticism from these relationships.

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