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Sex in Crisis: The New Sexual Revolution and the Future of American Politics [Hardcover]

Dagmar Herzog

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Book Description

July 1 2008
The Religious Right has fractured, the pundits tell us, and its power is waning. Is it true - have evangelical Christians lost their political clout? When the subject is sex, the answer is definitively no.Only three decades after the legalization of abortion, the broad gains of the feminist movement, and the emergence of the gay rights movement, Americans appear to be doing the time warp again. It's 1950s redux. Politicians-including many Democrats-insist that abstinence is the only acceptable form of birth control. Fully fifty percent of American high schools teach a "sex education" curriculum that includes deceptive information about the prevalence of STDs and the failure rates of condoms. Students are taught that homosexuality is curable, and that premarital sex ruins future marital happiness. Afraid of sounding godless, American liberals have failed to challenge these retrograde orthodoxies.The truth is Americans have not become anti-sex, but they have become increasingly anxious about sex-not least due to the stratagems of the Religious Right. There has been a war on sex in America-a war conservative evangelicals have in large part already won.How did the Religious Right score so many successes? Historian Dagmar Herzog argues that conservative evangelicals appropriated the lessons of the first sexual revolution far more effectively than liberals. With the support of a multimillion-dollar Christian sex industry, evangelicals crafted an astonishingly graphic and effective pitch for the pleasures of "hot monogamy"-for married, heterosexual couples only. This potent message enabled them to win elections and seduce souls, with disastrous political consequences.Fierce, witty, and brilliant, Sex in Crisis challenges America's culture of sexual dysfunction and calls for a more sophisticated national conversation about the facts of life.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (July 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465002145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465002146
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 14.6 x 20.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,219,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

John Gagnon, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Emeritus, The State University at Stony Brook, coauthor of "Sexual Conduct" and "The Social Organization of Sexuality""The religious right has repackaged its anti-sex messages in a secular wrapping to suit the changing cultural and social world over the last decades, but inside the box is the same old message, sexual abstinence and sexual ignorance for all, except in marriage. What is new is that if the sex you are having is not heterosexual, marital and serving God's purposes it is the source of mental and physical illness in addition to being sinful. Dagmar Herzog has carefully documented the ways in which the religious right has through distortion and falsehood taken over the language of sexual health and played upon the sexual fears of the American public and its politicians to invalidate all other forms of sexuality. This is an important book about the way in which the sexual conversation in the United States has been shanghaied to advance the religious and secular agendas of the far right."

About the Author

Dagmar Herzog is Professor of History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the author of two pioneering books, Intimacy and Exclusion and Sex after Fascism, as well as numerous scholarly articles on the history of human sexuality.

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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book: -Interesting Read May 29 2009
By David J. Roof - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is an excellent book, -very interesting and illuminating.

It's not simply `against' the right or overly partisan. The book takes a critical look at left and right political policy. -Very critical of the Clinton administration.

It considers the new approach to sexuality on the right, which I think people on the right might find very valuable and insightful (if you can read outside a political orientation).

Some elements of the book are speculative (it's on sexuality) or you might not agree with the conclusions of the author, but it's a well documented and well researched book. It also deals with many emerging factors (i.e. the growth of internet porn, sexual pharmacology...). I opens many issues worth consideration in a new and illuminating light.
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating May 6 2014
By BookMonster - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read this for my History of Sexuality class. Very informative and an interesting read. Some of it made me furious - which kept me engaged in the reading. I didn't skim through it like I do with most class readings or just read what was required - I actually sat down to read the whole thing cover to cover. I actually kept this one instead of selling it back which should tell you something right there.
10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Please Be Objective Aug. 9 2008
By Leslie Bary - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Jeri Nevermind - actually I believe it is since abstinence only and other dishonest forms of sex education were instituted that the rate of unplanned pregnancies has risen so sharply. And part of actual sex education, as opposed to fearmongering and empty moralizing, would be to teach fathers responsibility, and women assertiveness (as opposed to obedience and "just saying no"). The very largest proportion of abortions, illegitimate children, etc. among my students are had by women from religious families, trained to obey men ("have sex with me!" "now abort the child, it is not convenient to me!" "but have this one, because God has told me you should!").
10 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting in places but doesn't make the case Aug. 27 2008
By Alan A. Elsner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book has some interesting material but the author never manages to justify her overall argument: that the Christian right has changed the way Americans think about sex, making us all more anxious, more hypocritical and more dissatisfied.
I'm no supporter of the Christian right but not every ill in our society can be laid at their door and the author failed to persuade me of this. She begins with the claim that the invention of Viagra in the late 1990s and the sudden availability of Internet pornography fundamentally changed our understanding of sex. She states on page 10, without offering a scintilla of evidence, "Viagra changed how everyone thought about sex." It made every man even into old age a potential Lothario. Well, excuse me, I just don't buy it. Two pages later, Herzog is suddenly arguing the exact opposite -- that men in huge numbers had become bored with sex. The evidence quoted here is a few magazine articles.
That's basically the method throughout. You'll find here an enormous amount of footnotes -- Herzog has read everything and once an assertion appears in print, no matter where, it can be quoted and footnoted. But she never goes out and speaks to real people herself (or at least the book never includes their opinions). This is therefore an "academic" book for a popular audience. It falls between the stools -- not rigorous enough to be academic, not entertaining enough to be popular.
Herzog always seems to have both sides of the argument. Christian evangelicals now embrace sex but only within marriage. That doesn't seem wrong to me. What's her alternative? She never quite says.
I too oppose the waste of dollars on "abstinence only" sex education. It doesn't work. But that's the point. Far from changing the behavior of young people, or changing our societal attitudes toward sex in general, it's water off a duck's back. And now the political pendulum is swinging away from the Christian right as well as such policies.
It's true, as Herzog notes, that the Republicans spent years using homophobia to win elections. But what's the result? Public acceptance of gay marriage and gays in general has only risen.
The best chapter concerns the Bush administration's war against condoms in the international fight against HIV. There, she's on firmer ground. The United States has done enormous harm in the world with its damaging policy opposing the use of condoms to fight AIDS. As a result, people have died and societies set backward.
This book could have been a lot better without making extravagant claims. I suspect the publisher pushed Herozg to do so, thinking she could widen her audience beyond academic circles. But it's a bridge too far.
For more about me and my book Gates of Injustice: The Crisis in America's Prisons (Prentice Hall Paperback) go to [...]
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. Nov. 16 2009
By Dr. C - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is an enlightening look at the effects on our lives of the moral tightening around topics of sexuality that comes from the powerful religious right.

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