The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 18, 1998

Cristina L. H. Traina
Pages 177-196

Passionate Mothering
Toward an Ethic of Appropriate Mother-Child Intimacy

Women's informal accounts of their experience, news reports, and psychological and endocrinological studies concur that maternal-infant relations are inevitably erotic, if not explicitly sexually charged. In a culture that both affirms pursuit of "natural" pleasure and condemns overt eroticism in any relationship between unequals, maternal erotic experience is problematic. This essay gathers insights from the literatures of psychoanalysis, naturalism, maternal practice, and victim advocacy, as well as the Christian theological ethics of Lisa Sowle Cahill, Christine E. Gudorf, and Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore, to construct a tentative descriptive and prescriptive account of maternal eroticism.