SEX IN HISTORY chronicles the pleasures- and perils- of the flesh from the time of mankind’s distant ancestors to the modern day; from a sexual act which was bried, crude and purposeful, to the myriad varieties of contemporary sexual mores. Reay Tannahill’s scholarly, yet accessible study ranges from the earliest form of contraception (one Egyptian concoction included crocodile dung) to some latter- day misconceptions about it- like the men who joined their lovers in taking the pill ‘just to be on the safe side.’ It surveys all manner of sexual practice, preference and position (the acrobatic ‘wheelbarrow’ position, the strenuous ‘hovering butterflies’ position…) and draws on souces as diverse as THE ADMIRABLE DISCOURSES OF THE PLAIN GIRL, the EXHIBTION OF FEMALE FLAGELLANTS, IMPORTANT MATTERS OF THE JADE CHAMBER and THE ROMANCE OF CHASTISEMENT. Whether writing on androgyny, courtly love, flagellation or zoophilia, Turkish eunuch’s Greek dildoes, Taoist sex manuals or Japanses geisha girls, Reay Tannahill is consistently enlightening and entertaining.
A man admits that, when drunk, he tried to have sex with an eighteen-year-old girl; she is arrested and denies they had intercourse, but finally begs God’s forgiveness. Then she is publicly hanged alongside her attacker. These events took place in 1644, in Boston, where today they would be viewed with horror. How–and when–did such a complete transformation of our culture’s attitudes toward sex occur? In The Origins of Sex, Faramerz Dabhoiwala provides a landmark history, one that will revolutionize our understanding of the origins of sexuality in modern Western culture. For millennia, sex had been strictly regulated by the Church, the state, and society, who vigorously and brutally attempted to punish any sex outside of marriage. But by 1800, everything had changed. Drawing on vast research–from canon law to court cases, from novels to pornography, not to mention the diaries and letters of people great and ordinary–Dabhoiwala shows how this dramatic change came about, tracing the interplay of intellectual trends, religious and cultural shifts, and politics and demographics. The Enlightenment led to the presumption that sex was a private matter; that morality could not be imposed; that men, not women, were the more lustful gender. Moreover, the rise of cities eroded community-based moral policing, and religious divisions undermined both church authority and fear of divine punishment. Sex became a central topic in poetry, drama, and fiction; diarists such as Samuel Pepys obsessed over it. In the 1700s, it became possible for a Church of Scotland leader to commend complete sexual liberty for both men and women. Arguing that the sexual revolution that really counted occurred long before the cultural movement of the 1960s, Dabhoiwala offers readers an engaging and wholly original look at the Western world’s relationship to sex. Deeply researched and powerfully argued, The Origins of Sex is a major work of history.
In this wide-ranging history, Richard Bernstein explores the connection between sex and power as it has played out between Eastern cultures and the Western explorers, merchants, and conquerors who have visited them. This illuminating book describes the historical and ongoing encounter between these travelers and the morally ambiguous opportunities they found in foreign lands. Bernstein’s narrative teems with real figures, from Marco Polo and his investigation into the harem of Kublai Khan; the nineteenth-century American missionary Isabella Thoburn and her efforts to stamp out the “sinfulness” of the Mughal culture of India; Gustave Flaubert and his dalliances with Egyptian prostitutes; to modern-day sex tourists in Southeast Asia, as well as the women that they both exploit and enrich. Provocative and insightful, The East, The West, and Sex is a lucid look at a pervasive and yet mostly ignored subject. From the Trade Paperback edition.
The Subordinated Sex traces the enduring, powerful legacy of male attitudes toward women, their sexuality, and their roles as wives and mothers. Traditionally the creators and chroniclers of opinion, men have until recently written a history that reflects only their own convictions and impressions–a history rarely punctuated by a female voice and founded on an almost universal belief in women’s inferiority.
Acclaimed as a pioneering study when first published in 1973, Vern Bullough’s work has since established itself as a standard in historical literature on women. Updated and revised with Sarah Slavin and Brenda Shelton, The Subordinated Sex is a vast survey ranging from prehistoric to contemporary times, examining a diversity of cultures, and taking into account writings from a great variety of sources. From a consideration of Babylonian legal codes to Victorian prescriptive medical pamphlets, medieval clerical treatises to Islamic erotic poetry, Bullough and his coauthors recount not only how men have portrayed women but also how they have justified their subordination of the opposite sex.
In recent years, women have successfully challenged males’ self-designated role as gatekeepers of written records and have found within the past a more complete view of how women lived, what they thought, and what they achieved. By focusing, however, not on women’s history but on the history of men’s attitudes toward their female companions, The Subordinated Sex reveals, more than any other single work, the conditions that sparked the feminist movement and the reasons it must inspire a change in the lives of men as well as women.
‘Sex underlies human existence, and if human life is sacred, how can sex not be?’ As squeamish as India is today about sex, this is also the land where queens once copulated with head horses at religious ceremonies, where the art of love-making was declared the revelation of the gods and recorded in elaborate detail in the kama sutras and prostitution was a form of sacred offering at temples adorned with erotic sculptures. Using India as a paradigm, Rita Banerji illustrates that sexual morality is not an absolute but a facet of living that undergoes periodic upheavals. She delineates four major periods in Indian history when there were significant shifts in the collective social perception of sex and sexuality, and the associated customs and beliefs. What causes this revision in sexual ethos? To explain this, Sex and Power proposes a modified version of Nietzsche’s slave versus master morality theory. The theory, which is tested against the dynamics of each of the four defined periods, establishes that the moral overview of any given period is determined not by a set of pre-existing ethics but by the existent power structure of the period in question. The accepted moral code actually serves the party in power. How would this theory play out in the context of India today? Banerji examines this question at length as one of extreme urgency, and concludes that the three most burning issues facing the country today—population explosion, AIDS and female genocide—are the manifestations of a collective sexual malfunctioning of society and need to be redressed in the context of an existent social and economic power hierarchy.
The Routledge History of Sex and the Body provides an overview of the main themes surrounding the history of sexuality from 1500 to the present day. The history of sex and the body is an expanding field in which vibrant debate on, for instance, the history of homosexuality, is developing. This book examines the current scholarship and looks towards future directions across the field.
The volume is divided into fourteen thematic chapters, which are split into two chronological sections 1500 ¿ 1750 and 1750 to present day. Focusing on the history of sexuality and the body in the West but also interactions with a broader globe, these thematic chapters survey the major areas of debate and discussion. Covering themes such as science, identity, the gaze, courtship, reproduction, sexual violence and the importance of race, the volume offers a comprehensive view of the history of sex and the body. The book concludes with an afterword in which the reader is invited to consider some of the ¿tensions, problems and areas deserving further scrutiny¿.
Including contributors renowned in their field of expertise, this ground-breaking collection is essential reading for all those interested in the history of sexuality and the body.
In this gracefully written, accessible and entertaining volume, John Semonche surveys censorship for reasons of sex from the nineteenth century up to the present. He covers the various forms of American media–books and periodicals, pictorial art, motion pictures, music and dance, and radio, television, and the Internet. The tale is varied and interesting, replete with a stock of colorful characters such as Anthony Comstock, Mae West, Theodore Dreiser, Marcel Duchamp, Opie and Anthony, Judy Blume, Jerry Falwell, Alfred Kinsey, Hugh Hefner, and the Guerilla Girls. Covering the history of censorship of sexual ideas and images is one way of telling the story of modern America, and Semonche tells that tale with insight and flair. Despite the varieties of censorship, running from self-censorship to government bans, a common story is told. Censorship, whether undertaken to ward off government regulation, to help preserve the social order, or to protect the weak and vulnerable, proceeds on the assumption that the censor knows best and that limiting the choices of media consumers is justified. At various times all of the following groups were perceived as needing protection from sexually explicit materials: children, women, the lower classes, and foreigners. As social and political conditions changed, however, the simple fact that someone was a woman or a day laborer did not support stereotyping that person as weak or impressionable. What would remain as the only acceptable rationale for censorship of sexual materials was the protection of children and unconsenting adults. For each mode of media, Semonche explains via abundant examples how and why censorship took place in America. Censoring Sex also traces the story of how the cultural territory contested by those advocating and opposing censorship has diminished over the course of the last two centuries. Yet, Semonche argues, the censorship of sexual materials that continues in the United States poses a challenge to the free speech that is part of the f
“These superb new translations offer new perspectives on women’s history to English-language readers and, as Guido Ruggiero notes in the Introduction, effectively promote the use of gender as a category of analysis.”–Jeffrey R. Watt, The Sixteenth Century Journal. Selections from Quaderni Storici.
At a time when almost any victimless sexual practice has its public advocates and almost every sexual act is fit for the front page, the easiest, least harmful, and most universal one is embarrassing, discomforting, and genuinely radical when openly acknowledged. Masturbation may be the last taboo. But this is not a holdover from a more benighted age. The ancient world cared little about the subject; it was a backwater of Jewish and Christian teaching about sexuality. In fact, solitary sex as a serious moral issue can be dated with a precision rare in cultural history; Laqueur identifies it with the publication of the anonymous tract Onania in about 1722. Masturbation is a creation of the Enlightenment, of some of its most important figures, and of the most profound changes it unleashed. It is modern. It worried at first not conservatives, but progressives. It was the first truly democratic sexuality that could be of ethical interest for women as much as for men, for boys and girls as much as for their elders.The book’s range is vast. It begins with the prehistory of solitary sex in the Bible and ends with third-wave feminism, conceptual artists, and the Web. It explains how and why this humble and once obscure means of sexual gratification became the evil twin — or the perfect instance — of the great virtues of modern humanity and commercial society: individual moral autonomy and privacy, creativity and the imagination, abundance and desire.
The ancient Greeks and Romans considered it degrading to both parties yet depicted it prolifically in art and literature. The Early Christian Church called it “the worst evil,” punishable by seven years of penance and fasting (murder was one year). Nearly all of the 13 original American colonies had laws against it—except Georgia. A Victorian handbook for young brides advised how to “dampen his desire to kiss in forbidden territory.” Attitudes about oral sex have varied through the centuries and across cultures—a death sentence in some nations, a religious practice in others. This book explores its history as well as its impact on world events.