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Stein, R. (2005). Skimming the Milk, Cajoling the Soul— Embodiment and Obscenity in Sexuality: Commentary on Muriel Dimen's Paper. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 6(1):19-31.

(2005). Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 6(1):19-31

Skimming the Milk, Cajoling the Soul— Embodiment and Obscenity in Sexuality: Commentary on Muriel Dimen's Paper Related Papers

Ruth Stein, Ph.D.

Responding to Dimen's bringing together the vagaries of disgust, embarrassment, and shame lurking in sexuality, I translate “Eew” into abjection. I emphasize the “otherness” of sexuality mainly through the paradoxes of the body, which can figure as a chunk of flesh, demurring in a state of “facticity” (thingness), but which can also be(come) the house of the soul, the carrier of one's spirit, one's unique individuality and subjectivity.

To capture the other's ineffable subjectivity, we have to “cajole” his or her spirit to come and dwell on the body, particularly its apertures and skin. By caressing and arousing the other, we can transform the obscenity that inheres potentially in the sexual experience into the most transcendent and ecstatic event. Abjection, “Eew,” occurs when mutual understanding, which is the embodiment between two people, fails. When embodiment collapses into being only body, it is obscene and disgusting.

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