It’s apparently “sex week” at Mere-O.

I have an essay up this morning at First Things examining Caitlin Flanagan’s latest essay in The Atlantic on Karen Owens, the infamous Duke undergrad whose pesudo-thesis examining the sexual abilities of her many partners circled the internets last fall.

Here’s the final bit:

I appreciate Flanagan’s optimism that Owens feels regret for doing what seems so obviously destructive, but interpreting Owens’ behavior through the lens ofTwilight is also the easy way out for social conservatives. Treating Owens as motivated by revenge may implicitly reinforce the traditional sexual morality ofTwilight, but in doing so also allows us to avoid accounting for the more difficult prospect that Owens is, if not happy, at least not particularly concerned about her choices or motivated by a sense of animus. While an instinctive social conservatism might be okay, we need to ensure the facts fit.

Yet at the same time, the uproar and continuing discussion of Owens’ mock thesis reveals just how deeply Flanagan’s narrative about the nature of sexuality still resonates. While the nation was simultaneously horrified and fascinated, like the fellow in Plato’s Republic who can’t quit looking at the corpses, its irreverently clinical attitude is precisely the sort response we might expect from a world that has attempted to disenchant sexual pleasure by industrializing it. If nothing is sacred, nothing can be profaned, and the reverberations from Owens’ “work” may provide a little hope that the total disenchantment of sex is not yet complete.

If you’ve got questions, feel free to leave them here as well.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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