Sexuality: A Very Short Introduction

Sexuality: A Very Short Introduction

Language: English

Pages: 168

ISBN: 0199298025

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Is our sexuality determined primarily by our genes? Or is it shaped by the social norms and expectations we happen to be born into. This Very Short Introduction provides an accessible, thoughtful and thought-provoking introduction to major debates around sexuality in the modern world, highlighting the social and political aspects of sexuality. It critically explores different ways of defining and thinking about sexuality and shows that many of our assumptions about what is "natural" in the sexual domain have, in reality, varied greatly in different historical or cultural contexts. The volume also examines ways in which governments have tried to regulate citizens' sexualities in the past-through policies and laws concerning public health, HIV/Aids, prostitution, and sex education-paying special attention to the particular zeal with which women's sexuality has been policed. The volume concludes by discussing political activism around sexuality more widely, focusing on the ways in which feminists, lesbians and gay men, as well as religious fundamentalists have transformed our ways of thinking about sexuality in the past few decades.

About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.

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cure deviant sexuality has been widely documented. For example, psychoanalysts such as the American Sandor Rado argued from the 1940s that deviancy from heterosexuality could be ‘unlearned’. By the 1950s and 1960s, aversion therapy was increasingly used to ‘cure’ sexual deviants such as cross-dressers, fetishists, transsexuals, homosexuals, and lesbians in countries including the Soviet Union, the UK, the US, Canada, and South Africa. Gay men were more frequently targeted than lesbians since

of male sexuality as the expression of natural, uncontrollable drives which should not be interrupted; a view which puts obvious constraints 82 on women’s possibilities for negotiating safer sex. Furthermore, normative female identity creates the dilemma for women that, on the one hand, contraception and Aids protection are seen as female responsibilities, while, on the other hand, women feel they should refrain from asking for anything that might spoil their partners’ sexual pleasure.

prevention campaigns to take into account the emotional and irrational aspects of sex. Sexuality Eugenic ‘race improvement’ Whereas state policies around Aids put the main emphasis on treatment, support, and transformation of sexual practices of individual citizens, other types of state action regarding sex have been primarily driven by collective concerns. At the collective level, sexuality carries particular symbolic importance, since it is through reproductive sexuality that the nation is

is not a synonym for women’. 13. Pfizer/The Impotence Association magazine advertisement, featuring the football legend Pelé, which appeared in 2002 documented the impact of such changes on individual practices. Somewhat ironically, the primary agents in the transformation of sexual truths and relations of power are those that medicine and sexology had constructed as marginal in relation to hegemonic male heterosexuality, namely women and homosexuals of both sexes, as we have seen throughout

through both formal and informal political processes – the range and scope of the diversities that will be outlawed or banned. 126 As this volume has argued, sexual needs, values, and emotions are the products of specific historical contexts. Current practices may contribute to undermining concepts of ‘sexuality’, but, whatever changes scientific and technological developments will bring to our bodies and relationships, future meanings of sex will be shaped by society and politics. The future

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