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A Sexual Categorical Imperative (or Why Kant Is Not a Dirty Word)

03/14/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Cory Silverberg will join Esther Perel, Amy Sohn, Leonore Tiefer and Ian Kerner for a conversation called "Sex in America: Can The Conversation Change?" The symposium is co-sponsored by the Huffington Post and Open Center and will take place in New York City on Friday, February 20th. Click here to register.

Last week I suggested taking a tangent from Ian Kerner's
post about sexual hope. Today I want to talk about something he wrote
that resonated and still resonates. Kerner pointed out that our sexual histories weren't something that happened in the past, that they are "happening right now."

I think this is an important reminder to all of us who have been encouraged (or, at times, admonished) to "watch history in the making" so many times for the past month.
History is happening all the time. No. Scratch that. We are making history all the time. Think of one of Obama's key campaign strategies: his ability to engage individuals
through a call to action, while simultaneously reminding all of us that the change we make is part of change that's already happening.

To think about an endless unfolding of sexuality, in our own lives and on a broader cultural level, we need to make some conceptual changes. Instead of thinking of a change
in sexuality as being about getting from static point A to static point B, we need to understand that we are forever undergoing sexual change. There is no solution to sexuality, no end
game, because sexuality is not a problem to be solved or a game to be won. Think about the story your parents or children might tell of their sexual lives. How different or similar are
those stories from yours? What does this say about you, them, and the worlds you've lived in?

If we stop trying to fix sexuality (that is, to mend it but also to make it still) how might that change our feelings and our actions? If we all lived as if every sexual action, thought, or
feeling was being documented, preserved for history, how would that change our lives? Would we take greater or fewer sexual risks? Would the angels of our better sexual natures
prevail?

One thing I like about thinking of our sexual history not as something that's already happened, but as an ongoing effort, is that it evokes a kind of sexual categorical imperative.
It reminds us that change, like history, doesn't just happen when CNN says it does. It's happening now, and we're part of it whether we take that responsibility or appreciate that
power or not.

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