Radical alternatives to consent and trauma
Arguing that we have become culturally obsessed with healing trauma, Sexuality Beyond Consent calls attention to what traumatized subjects do with their pain. The erotics of racism offers a paradigmatic example of how what is proximal to violation may become an unexpected site of flourishing. Central to the transformational possibilities of trauma is a queer form of consent, limit consent, that is not about guarding the self but about risking experience. Saketopoulou thereby shows why sexualities beyond consent may be worth risking-and how risk can solicit the future.
Moving between clinical and cultural case studies, Saketopoulou takes up theatrical and cinematic works such as Slave Play and The Night Porter, to chart how trauma and sexuality join forces to surge through the aesthetic domain. Putting the psychoanalytic theory of Jean Laplanche in conversation with queer of color critique, performance studies, and philosophy, Sexuality Beyond Consent proposes that enduring the strange in ourselves, not to master trauma but to rub up against it, can open us up to encounters with opacity. The book concludes by theorizing currents of sadism that, when pursued ethically, can animate unique forms of interpersonal and social care.
Avgi Saketopoulou is a psychoanalyst in private practice in NYC and a member of the faculty of NYU’s Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.
Lavishly brilliant. Rarely has a book so daringly startled me. Clarity, nuance, pain, even tenderness here braid uniquely, keyed to sexual collisions with race. A series of showstopping claims result, glistening with seduction. Never have I felt so welcomed into trauma as a mode of doing, a mode of expanding, a mode of greeting what is foreign in oneself. Take this invitation laced with surprise.
~Kathryn Bond Stockton, author of Gender(s)
Making a vibrant argument for psychoanalysis’s importance in grappling with our modern racial dramas, Sexuality Beyond Consent weaves together insights from queer theory, performance studies, and critical race theory to explore overwhelm. Saketopoulou’s clear and compelling prose brings together clinical case studies, Laplanche, and Slave Play to arrive at an ethics for dealing with power and difference now—the result is a dazzling, brilliant read.
~Amber Jamilla Musser, author of Sensual Excess: Queer Femininity and Brown Jouissance
Offers nothing less than a theory of sexuality, one that refuses contemporary pieties. In a series of profound and sometimes personal reflections, Saketopoulou subjects our reigning models of consent to close scrutiny, and asks what happens when fantasy—intractable, recalcitrant, but also protean and surprising—belies our most dearly held political and ethical commitments. The result is a work that excavates the complex enmeshments of the sexed body, race, and history, and demonstrates the
ongoing salience of psychoanalytic concepts to feminist and anti-racist cultural analysis. Saketopoulou’s critique of the liberal sexual subject is politically necessary and intellectually thrilling.
~Damon Ross Young, University of California, Berkeley
This brilliant, often counter-intuitive examination of sexuality, race, and consent explores how we might yield to the opacity in ourselves. Saketopoulou unpacks with startling insight moments beyond the politics of identity and trauma to imagine how the surrendering of consent might lead to an ethical expansion rather than diminishment of the self.
~David L. Eng, University of Pennsylvania