Discover more from From the Editors at Public Seminar
Good Sex, Bad Sex
Heteropessimism, sex work “rescues,” nihilism for the whole family, and more
April 20, 2023
In this week’s issue of Public Seminar, contributors Rachel Ida Buff, Matthew Dallek, Josephine Houman, Ken Hu, Emma Pirnay, Claire Potter, Victor Roy, and Elena Shih take a closer look at the politics of “family values,” feminism, and freedom.
The Politics of Sex
“For this only slightly embittered, playfully despondent heterosexual woman, the resigned dissatisfaction of heteropessimism offers numbness, distraction, and—weirdly—a kind of comfort.” Josephine Houman explores what it means to be a heteropessimist, and the lessons the term can teach us about contemporary feminism. (April 19, 2023)
In an excerpt from Manufacturing Freedom: Sex Work, Anti-Trafficking Rehab, and the Racial Wages of Rescue (University of California Press, 2023), Elena Shih recounts a night of “human trafficking outreach ministry” with American missionaries in Bangkok. “I watched this scene of a group of foreigners—all white North American women except for me, an Asian American—calling Thai women offstage with great familiarity and gusto. What was immediately puzzling to me during outreach was how, though our intentions were different, we were asked to interact with women through the exact commercial sex interface that male clients around us were using.” (April 18, 2023)
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Philosophy on Film
Ken Hu unpacks the existentialist questions at the heart of the “maximalist” sci-fi-action-comedy-drama Everything Everywhere All At Once, and examines the subtly different conclusions Evelyn and her family draw from their respective encounters with the multiverse. (April 18, 2023)
At the Border
“As the 2024 election approaches, things may get worse for migrants. Title 42 is set to expire along with the public health emergency this spring, and the Biden administration has proposed a near-total ban on the admission of asylum seekers, an action which flies in the face of international human rights law. In recent weeks, there has also been talk of reviving the practice of family detention.” Rachel Ida Buff examines the violence against families central to U.S. border enforcement strategies. (April 19, 2023)
Dispatches from Capitalism
Victor Roy joins Emma Pirnay for a conversation about his new book, Capitalizing a Cure (University of California Press, 2023) and the structures that define drug pricing and the pharmaceutical industry. (April 17, 2023)
How did apocalyptic, anti-establishment politics become so mainstream? In the latest episode of Why Now?, Matthew Dallek and Claire Potter discuss the game-changing legacy of the John Birch Society. (April 19, 2023)