Sexuality Beyond Consent: Risk, Race, Traumatophilia by Avgi Saketopoulou Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author and Dr. Avgi Saketopoulou give an in-depth, thought-provoking look into the complicated world of sexuality, consent, and trauma in the book “Sexuality Beyond Consent: Risk, Race, Traumatophilia.


The Synopsis

Radical alternatives to consent and trauma

Arguing that we have become culturally obsessed with healing trauma, Sexuality Beyond Consent calls attention to what traumatized subjects do with their pain. The erotics of racism offers a paradigmatic example of how what is proximal to violation may become an unexpected site of flourishing. Central to the transformational possibilities of trauma is a queer form of consent, limit consent, that is not about guarding the self but about risking experience. Saketopoulou thereby shows why sexualities beyond consent may be worth risking-and how risk can solicit the future.

Moving between clinical and cultural case studies, Saketopoulou takes up theatrical and cinematic works such as Slave Play and The Night Porter, to chart how trauma and sexuality join forces to surge through the aesthetic domain. Putting the psychoanalytic theory of Jean Laplanche in conversation with queer of color critique, performance studies, and philosophy, Sexuality Beyond Consent proposes that enduring the strange in ourselves, not to master trauma but to rub up against it, can open us up to encounters with opacity. The book concludes by theorizing currents of sadism that, when pursued ethically, can animate unique forms of interpersonal and social care.

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The Review

This was quite a compelling, thoughtful, and engaging read. The author expertly crafts a philosophical, analytical, and professional examination of the current culture of consent, especially with the rise of the MeToo movement, and the differences between that type of consent and the unknowable, unrecognized experiences during sexual or intimate moments that both shock and pleasure people. The use of case studies and personal conversations with others in her field, as well as the in-depth research the author conducted, allowed the reader to get a sense of the themes the book was dissecting and bringing to life.

Now I will be honest, this is quite a challenging book, in that it challenges the readers to keep an open mind and not only explore new and radical ideas that can flip our ideas on their heads but to explore our own minds and the experiences we have. The idea of not sweeping away trauma but learning to work with it and push ourselves through that trauma to discover new aspects of ourselves was quite an interesting idea, and one of many such notions the author explores in this book.

The Verdict

Memorable, enlightening, and thoughtful, author Avgi Saketopoulou’s “Sexuality Beyond Consent: Risk, Race, Traumatophilia” is a must-read nonfiction book on sexuality and consent. The morality, psychoanalytical, and introspective themes the author explores in this book will push readers to really think about life and the impact that trauma and sexuality can have on a person’s life altogether. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Dr. Avgi Saketopoulou is a Cypriot and Greek psychoanalyst based in New York. She is on faculty at the NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, where she also trained, and teaches in other psychoanalytic institutes. Her published work has received several psychoanalytic awards, such as the annual JAPA Essay Prize, the Ruth Stein Prize, the Symonds Essay Prize, and the Ralph Roughton Award while her interview on relational psychoanalysis is in the permanent collection of the Freud Museum in Vienna. In 2022, she received Div.39’s Scholarship and Research Award and her essay, co-authored with Dr. Ann Pellegrini, received the first Tiresias Essay Prize from the IPA’s Sexual and Gender Diversities Studies Committee. That work will appear in a forthcoming volume titled “Gender Without Identity” coming out in Spring 2023 from the Unconscious in Translation Press. Dr. Saketopoulou’s monograph, “Sexuality Beyond Consent: Risk, Race, Traumatophilia” is published by the Sexual Cultures Series, NYU Press.

More information about her can be found on her website

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