Sexual desire and structural injustice

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Is it unjust that some people are less sexually desired than others? We might have sympathy for the sexually undesired but supposing they suffer an outright injustice can seem absurd. Mere disadvantage is not injustice. However, I argue that political injustices can sometimes arise from the distribution and character of our sexual desires, and that we can be held responsible for correcting these injustices. I draw on a conception of structural injustice to diagnose unjust patterns of sexual attraction, which are taken to arise when socio-structural processes shaping the formation of sexual desire compound systemic domination and capacity-deprivation for the occupants of certain social positions. Individualistic and structural solutions to the problem of unjust patterns of sexual attraction are assessed in the context of racialised sexual aversion, racial fetishism, and the desexualisation of people with disabilities. While both forms of intervention can help, some of the advantages of structural approaches are laid out. A schema for assigning political responsibilities for addressing this injustice is proposed, with some limits identified to the kinds of state and social responses that are justified. Finally, the status of the merely aesthetically unappealing is considered, with a relational egalitarian approach concluding that they are rarely subject to structurally unjust patterns of sexual desire, and only when exposed to outright oppression or second-class citizenship as a result of their appearance.
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First archival date: 2020-10-16
Latest version: 2 (2020-10-16)
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