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.
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.
Yes, as everyone knows, the religious right controls television, Hollywood movies, CBS, NBC, ABC, the New York Times and all the universities.
No...wait...actually, the liberals control all these! So where have the puritans, laughed at on every sitcom, managed to grab control back? Um...nowhere, so it's difficult to see the point of the book.
She solemnly announces, "We are experiencing sex in crisis" (p 3). Then, on the same page, she disproves her theory by chattering happily about Viagra, which she happily notes has meant even the very elderly can be promiscuous. Does this sound like sex in crisis?
The crisis continues in the next chapter where she talks about Evangelicals. Aiming her razor wit at the enemy, Herzog notes that, "Evangelicals incessantly...admit that they are drawn to the very things they say they despise" (p 39). I am shocked, shocked to hear that people are drawn to sin. Then, with relish, she relates every shred of evidence proving Evangelicals actually like sex and therefore are hypocrites.
By page 69, after pointless rambling, she relates the terrifying facts of the Evangelical Glen Eyrie project which was actually against gay rights and made an initiative to "Pressure politicians to commit to opposing any gay-friendly legislation" (p 69).
Christians staying by the same morals they've been teaching for 2,000 years? Let us all pause to take a few deep breaths.
Besides the incoherent writing and flawed logic, Herzog fails at the most basic level by not tackling the problems the sexual revolution has created.
She keeps pushing thorough sexual education as if it were a magical cure all. She's blind to the obvious: since we began sex education in our schools, the illegitimacy rate skyrocketed to over 40%, sexual diseases are so common Herpes medicines are standard commercials, and some 1,200,000 abortions occur every year.
Even in the UK, which has pushed one of the most clinical, pro-sex, pro-condom teaching given to children before they can read, sex education has been a catastrophic failure. After thirty years of intensive, intrusive sex ed, the UK has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe and a soaring abortion rate.
Even the very left Alan Guttmacher Institute, a part of Planned Parenthood, shows fewer than 20 percent of all pregnancies nationwide end in abortion, 72 pregnancies end in abortion in New York for every 100 births. Funny, since New York practically throws condoms from you on every corner. So the most rigorous pro-contraception education in the US has resulted in...why, the highest rate of abortion! Amazing.
These are common enough facts. So why won't Herzog acknowledge and discuss them?
Herzog refuses to admit that the sexual revolution has harmed people. And the people most harmed by all the collapsing marriages and freewheeling sex are the children. Children need a mother and father who will love and take care of them.
Children who live in single parent households are at huge risk for abuse compared to those children living with their biological parents. Statistically, these children will perform poorly in schools and are much more likely than their peers with married parents to develop drug and alcohol problems. Research shows they are TWENTY TIMES more likely to end up in prison, and at much, much greater risk of suicide and lifelong emotional problems than those children raised with their mother and father.
Herzog badly needs to read such books as "Abolition of Marriage" and "Fatherless America".
And it is the research--and massive, simply massive piles of it, not to mention dozens of new books--that is so convincing. I am simply aghast that anyone who has even the smallest brush with it could believe differently, so I am forced to conclude Herzog avoided it like the plague.
The dividing line between the bright and the poorly educated right now in the US is marriage, as per "State of Our Unions 2010".
Only 10% of the Ivy league students have divorced parents, the rest are still living with their natural parents. And mind, we are talking here only about divorced parent, we are not even bothering to factor in illegitimate children.
Children raised in a single parent household end up with, on average, a lower IQ than children raised by their genetic parents. This trend is especially clear in boys. Research shows boys are more hurt than girl by being raised in a broken home.
Illegitimate children tend to have an even lower IQ than that.
And here is a really depressing finding: the children who have lived with a stepfather or stepmother do even worse than either the children of divorced or illegitimate children. I remember stumbling over this fact, and how upset I was. It became clear, as the thousands of studies on stepchildren rolled in, that they seemed to suffer more than any other group, which on the face it, seemed at first very odd.
Children raised by a single parent are much more likely to be emotionally disturbed (especially boys), and, alarmingly, this continues throughout their lives. No, they don't bounce back.
Children raised by a single parent graduate from both high school and college in much smaller numbers, and, once again, especially boys.
Children raised in a single parent household experience reading and school problems in much, much higher numbers.
Children raised in a single parent household are far less likely to take advanced classes.
Children raised in single parent households are much less likely to experience success in later jobs. Boys, especially.
Children raised in single parent household rarely qualify for gifted classes. And when they do, it is usually at a much lower level than those raised by their genetic parents.
Children raised in single households show a hugely increased chance of ending up in 'problem' kid classes or special ed classes. They are also twice as likely to be suspended or expelled from school.
Children raised in single parent households are twice as likely to be arrested, and comprise some 85% of the prison population.
Children raised by single mothers are twice likely to be treated for emotional and behavioral problems
Children of single mothers are twice as likely to drop out of high school.
A recent researcher, studying the data from the famous Terman study of gifted children, realized that, even among these gifted, well off children, the children whose parents had divorced were far less likely to be successful. And, strangely, they died five years earlier than those whose parents remained married.
The fact is we are simply ignoring the serious, terrible harm our culture is doing to young children.
We all have a right to live the lives we want to live, but we have no right to harm small children. And when we harm the vast majority of our children --today, only about 45% of our children grow up in intact homes--you can be sure we have caused severe damage to the future of this nation.
I would also like to point out that the research has been worldwide. We have studies from poor, rural countries, from Europe--all over. And they all say the same thing. May I repeat that? They all say the same thing. Only about 5% of the studies show any kind of encouraging result.
Some other good books on the subject include "The State of Our Unions 2010" which presents statistics showing marriage is disappearing among the poor in America, "Marriage and Caste in America" which also presents evidence on the subject, "Fatherless America", which talks about the research proving children raised in single parents households are harmed, and "The Abolition of Marriage", which has the best in-depth research on marriage, divorce, children, and single parenting.
At any rate, skip this silly book.
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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