Part I delves into the author’s past as a Mennonite girl inheriting Christian and Platonic paradigms of love that assume a stark division between mind and body or spirit and flesh and exert patriarchal control over female sexuality and behavior. The prejudice against “vulgar love” for women is highlighted in the writings of Plato, Augustine and Abelard, and an alternative account of erotic desire is traced to Sappho’s lyrical poems and the biblical Song of Solomon. Personal reflections on youthful passion in conflict with religious fervor weave in and out of philosophical exposition.
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