wendell berry on industrial sex

After seeing this article in today’s Age, my mind immediately went to this quote of Wendell Berry from Feminism, The Body And The Machine. I suspect when he wrote it (1989), it was intended as more wry overstatement than prediction, but there it is.

It is odd that simply because of its “sexual freedom” our time should be considered extraordinarily physical. In fact, our “sexual revolution” is mostly an industrial phenomenon, in which the body is used as a idea of pleasure or a pleasure machine with the aim of “freeing” natural pleasure from natural consequence.

Like any other industrial enterprise, industrial sexuality seeks to conquer nature by exploiting it and ignoring the consequences, by denying any connection between nature and spirit or body and soul, and by evading social responsibility. The spiritual, physical, and economic costs of this “freedom” are immense, and are characteristically belittled or ignored. The diseases of sexual irresponsibility are regarded as a technological problem and an affront to liberty.

Industrial sex, characteristically, establishes its freeness and goodness by an industrial accounting, dutifully toting up numbers of sexual partners, orgasms, and so on, with the inevitable industrial implication that the body is somehow a limit on the idea of sex, which will be a great deal more abundant as soon as it can be done by robots.

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