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Serpent in the Garden

Amish Sexuality in a Changing World

James A. Cates

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The first book to examine the complexity of sexual identity, philosophy, and behavior in Amish culture.

The Amish offer a startling contrast to the postmodern view of sexuality and gender roles. After the sexual revolution of the 1960s, mainstream American culture never looked back. Meanwhile, the Amish never looked forward. In twenty-first-century Amish communities, heteronormative sexuality is still based on a unifying principle: an understanding of sexuality as emerging from a divine plan. In the eyes of the Amish, sex is squandered by those who embrace it as hedonistic or who carve out a…

The first book to examine the complexity of sexual identity, philosophy, and behavior in Amish culture.

The Amish offer a startling contrast to the postmodern view of sexuality and gender roles. After the sexual revolution of the 1960s, mainstream American culture never looked back. Meanwhile, the Amish never looked forward. In twenty-first-century Amish communities, heteronormative sexuality is still based on a unifying principle: an understanding of sexuality as emerging from a divine plan. In the eyes of the Amish, sex is squandered by those who embrace it as hedonistic or who carve out a sexual identity that moves them away from that singular, God-given purpose. But this communal emphasis on sex for procreation does not mean that the Amish do not possess a complex range of sexual identities and opinions.

In Serpent in the Garden, clinical psychologist James A. Cates breaks new ground in the study of Amish sexuality by examining this shrouded, rarely discussed subject. The first book to bring Amish sexuality into primary focus, this volume argues that, because the Amish are a sexual minority, queer theory is the ideal framework from which to observe their views on sex, sexuality, and gender. The book offers a broad view of sexuality in Amish culture that includes the challenges that gays and lesbians face in the community, as well as an exploration of Amish gender roles, their views toward intimacy, their responses to cases of child sexual abuse, and the role of fetishes among the Amish. Cates draws from multiple perspectives and years of research on the Amish themselves. He also looks at pushback against alternative behaviors or identities, as well as Amish success in keeping mainstream values at bay.

With this book, Cates establishes Amish sexuality as a topic worthy of professional attention. Offering readers a more sophisticated understanding of the Amish and of sexual expression among cultures, Serpent in the Garden will appeal to scholars working on gender and sexuality, the Amish, and social service professionals who serve the Amish community.

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Serpent in the Garden

James A. Cates

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Reviews

In Serpent in the Garden, Dr. James A. Cates draws on years of work within the Amish community to provide a much-needed professional perspective on the Amish understanding of sexuality and sexual behavior. Throughout, Cates treats this difficult subject with honesty and care. This groundbreaking work will be a valuable resource for clinicians, researchers, and professionals in diverse fields.

Anabaptist sexuality is a subject that desperately needs more study. Serpent in the Garden takes an important step toward filling this gap. Scholars will converse with it for many years to come.

In this fascinating and provocative book, Cates draws on decades of experience living and working alongside Plain People to explore the gendered and sexual dimensions of Amish life in all their spiritual and worldly complexity. A humble and humbling inquiry into an aspect of Amish life, and indeed American life, that is notoriously difficult to study.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
224
ISBN
9781421438726
Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Chapter 1. The Pilgrim Journey: Amish Discipline
Chapter 2. Peculiar People, Queer Theory
Chapter 3. The Birds and the Bees (and the Horses and the Cows): Learning about Sexuality
C

Preface
Acknowledgments
Chapter 1. The Pilgrim Journey: Amish Discipline
Chapter 2. Peculiar People, Queer Theory
Chapter 3. The Birds and the Bees (and the Horses and the Cows): Learning about Sexuality
Chapter 4. "Knowing" One Another: Ramifications of the Physical Act
Chapter 5. Gender Roles: Housework and Harvesting
Chapter 6. Intimacy: The True Serpent in the Garden
Chapter 7. Suffer Little Children: Child Sexual Abuse
Chapter 8. Victorian's Secret: Paraphilias and the Amish
Chapter 9. The Love That Won't Shut Up: Sexual Minorities and the Amish
Epilogue. Rubbing Shoulders with Rahab: Emerging Views on Sexuality
Appendixes
A. Suggestions for Further Reading
B. Professional Interaction and Amish Sexuality
C. A Quick Guide to Other Plain Groups
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

James A. Cates

James A. Cates is a board-certified clinical psychologist and licensed addiction counselor in northeast Indiana. He is an associate professor at Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne.