Elevate Difference

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

Sexual historian Dagmar Herzog's book, Sex in Crisis, takes a look at the construction of sexuality after the sexual revolution in the mid-late 1900s. She analogizes the struggle to claim and determine legitimized, acceptable sexual practices (or absence thereof) to a war, which she believes the Christian Right is winning. Herzog explores the ways in which Christian writings on sex offer detailed, enticing descriptions of sex and sexual desire, all with the aim of inducing convictions against pre- and extra-marital sex, as well as activities deemed "homosexual". She observes that the Religious Right have construed homosexuality as the opposite of heterosexuality, with glorifications of one and hostile criticisms of the other.

This opening chapter is about the increased anxiety the American public has about sex and lays out a number of complicated issues that have emerged after the sexual revolution, many of which Herzog addresses in future chapters: the morality and physiological health of viewing pornography; the contradictory message that arises when public representations of sexuality in mass media have heightened, but people are told to remain chaste; the myriad questions regarding the female orgasm; and the effects of Viagra on the ways we imagine healthy, functioning sexuality, and sexual desire. Herzog cites the latter as being responsible for "raising destabilizing questions about the connections between bodies and emotions: what exactly was turning the man on - the drug or woman?" It's all about the different sides and their respective messages, which purport to persuade one of their convictions and politics.

Herzog brings in an interesting spin on the discussion of American sexuality when she uses the presidential campaign of 1992 (the first time homosexuality was openly discussed, she argues). This relevant historical analysis demonstrates the war over sex. There are other eye-opening discussions, including a fascinating chapter about AIDS and the current Bush administration's response to international AIDS crisis. She paints the picture as one in which neoliberal practices promote abstinence instead of safer sex, contributing to already existing economic and health crises in third world nations.

For a book of its size, Sex in Crisis is loaded with easy-to-understand information on every page.

Written by: Yujean Park, July 27th 2008

Sounds like a fascinating read. Thanks for the post.

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