Podcast: Christine Emba on Rethinking Sex

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For most young men and women today, sexual ethics have been collapsed into one idea: consent. Consent, whereby two responsible, conscientious, free people agree to enter into a sexual relationship, has become a shorthand way to describe ethical sex. And of course, consent in sex is important, especially since it was so often absent in human history.

But is consent, and consent alone, sufficient for modern sexual ethics? That’s the question the Washington Post writer Christine Emba takes up in her fascinating new book Rethinking Sex. In the book, she takes readers on a tour of the sexual practices of young Americans and finds that for many sex has become diminished, casual, and rote. In conversation with Mosaic Editor Jonathan Silver, she explains why that is, how consent became so central to the conversation, and how American culture might need to change in order to restore meaning and responsibility to sex.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.

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