They know their neighbors; they know their village; they know their land. They have their own vernacular that everyone who lives there understands because their father and mother taught them, just like they were taught by their fathers and mothers. The book is a survey of one man’s quest to bring the lives of his ancestors into the light. It is a description of what it is to belong somewhere.
Venus’s love for her sister, and Serena’s recognition of it, has also shown us the transcendent power of family, the possibility of forgetting the accolades and the worldly recognition and the desire for advantage and finding instead deeper connections and possibilities of love.
What Emba most successfully conveys throughout the entirety of her brief book is an awareness that we are never “our own.” This is certainly right, but she does not go far enough in revealing just how radical this interdependence is, and why it warrants placing sex back within the context of marriage and family-building. While Rethinking Sex speaks to an audience fed up with sexual disappointment, it omits family and marriage as forms of belonging and responsibility that stem from our sexuality.
The lengthy drift from family to individual as the primary social unit carries an alluring promise of autonomy and individualism which sounds so good, so freeing, but it comes up lacking in times of crisis.