Sex in Crisis: The New Sexual Revolution and the Future Of American Politics Hardcover – Jun 26 2008
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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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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 [...]
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