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Olio Seminar | Sex, Power, and Self: A Feminist Exploration of Pleasure and Pain


This is a 4-part seminar taking place on Mondays July 16th, 23rd, 30th & August 6th

Can a woman claim to be liberated and simultaneously take delight in her own sexual submission? How can we demand absolute consent, while also asking for discomfort and pain? Are we simply acting out “power” outside ourselves, or, are we recreating the power schemas were are trying to escape? What, exactly, constitutes pleasure? And are we certain we can distinguish it from pain? This seminar will be an exploration of these questions and more.  We will meet four times, and will be devoted to analyzing and discussing a classic text in the field of feminist theory and sexuality. 

This seminar will include an introduction to Foucault’s landmark work on the historical invention of sexuality, The History of Sexuality. As a group we will discuss such topics as:


The Body and the Self

We will dive into The History of Sexuality. First published in 1976, the work remains foundational to any study of the relationship between sex, power, and the idea of the self. Indeed, the body is neither a fact nor a reality; it is a domain of experience capable of profound pleasures, extreme anguish, and the ambiguous space in between. We will also examine a few short excerpts from Elaine Scarry’s The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World.

 

Feminism and BDSM

Feminism and BDSM have historically had a tense relationship. While some feminists denounce BDSM for it’s degradation of women and it’s celebration of violence, others applaud BDSM for its focus on consent, agency, and its ability to create new discourses of power. We will turn to two classic texts from feminist theory to confront this dilemma: Audre Lorde’s The Uses of the Erotic, and Gayle Rubin’s Thinking Sex.

 

The Self?

At the heart of our debates around sexuality and power there lies a troubled and fleeting idea: the notion of the self. The “I” and the problematic “You.” For our last meeting, we will shift gears a bit and read a piece of fiction—Milan Kundera’s short story, “The Hitchhiking Game.” Kundera’s gift for writing about the painful and pleasurable place where self collides with power and sexuality is profound. Our last meeting will be devoted to analyzing this story, and reflecting on the possibilities of liberation from shame from abandoning the self once and for all.

 




Location: Nowadays

56-06 Cooper Ave, Ridgewood, NY 11385

Trees, ping pong, checkers, grass to lie in, fresh air, and the occasional passing freight train.


Other upcoming Olios


Nov 2

What we Call Evil

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Nov 4

Museum Trip | 'True Colors' Private Tour

Taught by Charles Riley
2 p.m. at Nassau County Museum of Art

Sign Up - $40

Nov 7

A World Beyond PC

Taught by Marissa Gutierrez-Vicario
7 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $15

Nov 14

Nov 17

OlioHouse | Homecoming Dance 2018

Taught by Jamie Warren
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $75

Nov 30

Wishes of the Dead

Taught by Barry Lam
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20


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