I was recently very happy to come across this article ‘Imagining Intimacy, Family, and Sex in a Better World’ by Cynthia Peters at ZNet. I’m not sure yet if I agreed with everything – it covers a huge range of issues – and I don’t like the attitude of ‘waiting for the revolution’ to make change, but I do find it enormously useful and heartwarming to think in both visionary and practical terms about how things could be better. I often get caught up in the day-to-day parenting; it’s refreshing to look big picture sometimes. I do read a lot of stuff by feminists mothers, which is usually written for other feminist mothers, so I loved that this article is directed at a wider progressive circle of people. It’s a discussion which should be had more, more, more.

I’d love to write more on the content of the article, but time is against me – I will return to the ideas in future posts.¬† Let me leave you with Cynthia Peters’ conclusion:

“…in a better society, the art of kinship will not be relegated to dark and private recesses of the family. As we work to ensure that all spheres (economics, community, and politics) enhance liberty, justice, solidarity, participation, and diversity, we should also ask if they enhance our ability to love and nurture each other. Family and personal relationships will of course be more or less private, but they will happen in a context that honors and supports the importance of the human work of social reproduction and that actively combats the systemic oppression that cause distress in personal relationships. Imagine a world where racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism don’t divide us and where we see each other for who we are rather than through the toxic filter of stereotypes and defenses against stereotypes. Absent these negative aspects of others spheres, the kinship sphere will automatically improve.
But no matter how positive the other spheres are, the kinship sphere will need a second key ingredient, and that is, ongoing sustained attention by every future generation. This essay provides a cursory look at what that attention should include: the role of the family in creating lifelong attachments and intimacy; the fact that children are vulnerable to parents who exercise tremendous power and authority over many aspects of their lives; the need for people to have sex and express sexuality; and the importance of social ties in the caretaking of children, those with more needs, and the elderly. In all of these areas, it will be the public’s task to encourage participation, balance privacy with transparency, and focus on what must be proscribed (rather than prescribing certain behaviors). As we grow and change in what will be a constantly improved environment, our minds will be more and more freed to meet these admittedly difficult challenges, so we should be prepared to constantly revisit the challenges of the kinship sphere, allowing our responses to evolve over time.”

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