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Discuss some of the impediments to personal love

May 7, 2021

1. Is personal love only possible where the parties to it are free and equa What kind of “freedom” (from what?) and “equality” (with respect to what?) are we speaking of? Is it deeper when the two parties are not? Try to tie your discussion to couples you know, or experiences you have had.

2. Discuss some of the impediments to personal love discussed by de Beauvoir and Freud.

3. Personal love refers essentially something we call a “person.” But what is a “person?” Can you love a person apart from his or her characteristics, such as beauty, wit, personality, or sexual seductiveness?

4. Is lifelong marriage possible? Under what conditions? Can marriage survive adultery? Find among the authors we read – and perhaps by talking with people married for a long time – reasons to argue that a happy lifelong marriage is possible or impossible.

5. Is marriage a social construct, as, for example, de Beauvoir and Goldman believe? How does contemporary “bourgeois” society make marriage as a lifelong loving fidelity difficult or impossible in the view of de Beauvoir, of Gass, of Firestone?

6. How does Goldman condemn modern marriage arrangements as destructive of women? What is Goldman’s hope for a better future of love and marriage? What is de Beauvoir’s?

7. Discuss Baier’s paper. What are the “experiments” in loving that Baier hops will open us to a new and less “risky” form of love?

8. Think of the “me too” phenomenon of recent years, or of the criminal behavior of those who exploit sexually young girls and boys. What do we learn from this phenomenon about the psychology of male sexuality, or about the institution of marriage as channeling human sexuality into socially useful pathways?

9. Many authors have argued that to make a woman a love-object for a man she must be “degraded” in some manner. Find such claims (or counterclaims) in Freud, de Beauvoir, Mackey, and Firestone. What is Jung’s metaphor of the “container” and the “contained” and how does it relate to this issue? If these authors are right, marriage as a relation of free and equal partners would be impossible, and women would be forever the “second sex.”

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